We examine the determinants of multinational firms' propensity to conduct R&D activities in host countries, with specific attention to the influence of host countries' university research. We consider heterogeneous locational drivers related to the type of R&D activity: basic research, applied research, development for local markets, and development for global markets. Drawing on official survey data on R&D activities by 498 Japanese multinational firms in 24 host countries and estimating two-stage models, we find that the likelihood that firms conduct R&D in a host country is generally increasing in the strength of university research. Conditional on a firm's R&D presence, university research strength is associated with a greater propensity to conduct (basic) research activities rather than (local) development, while the intensity of host country university - industry collaboration is most strongly associated with applied research. Host country experience and the depth of the firm's manufacturing presence are also associated higher propensities to engage in research.