This paper tries to uncover some of the economic factors that encourage firms to seek information from universities and government labs or to collaborate with these institutions. We exploit the information contained in the second community innovation surveys (cis2) for france, germany, ireland and spain. We estimate an ordered probit model on the importance of knowledge sourcing from universities and government labs controlling for selection bias, and a trivariate probit model explaining the decisions to innovate, collaborate in innovation, and in particular collaborate with universities and government labs. R&d-intensive firms and radical innovators tend to source knowledge from universities and government labs but not to cooperate with them directly. Outright collaborations in innovation with universities and government labs is characteristic of large firms, firms that patent or those that receive government support for innovation. Members of an enterprise group tend to cooperate in innovation but not directly with universities or government labs.