Cambridge Journal of Economics, 36(3): 679-702

This article is written in collaboration with Elisa Giuliani.

Emerging economies are now becoming more central in global competition. To achieve this, many countries have invested to develop into ‘knowledge economies’. Universities have a role to play in this transformation, both as generators of new knowledge as well as actors that can interact with the local industry and contribute to its innovativeness. This paper explores, using two case studies in the Chilean and South African wine industry, how universities connect international science to domestic industry. It finds that this connection occurs through a few ‘bridging researchers’, who display particular characteristics compared with their colleagues. Bridging researchers are more ‘talented’ than average researchers, both because they publish more in international journals and/or because they have received awards for their academic work. This finding may have significant policy implications, as policies aimed at strengthening the skills of these researchers should be welcomed in catching-up industries.