This paper attempts to investigate the role of universities in industrial innovation in emerging economies using a firm-level survey database from China. It also benchmarks the Chinese pattern against that of the UK. It finds that domestic universities have played a significant role in the promotion of the diffusion of frontier technology and the creation of new country- or firm-level innovation outcomes in China. In contrast to the traditional view that collaboration with universities will lead to greater novel innovation (an outcome which is supported by our evidence from the UK), the contribution of domestic universities to the creation of ground-breaking innovations is limited in China. International innovation collaboration with foreign universities, especially those in the Newly Industrialised Economies and the emerging South, appears to be fruitful in enhancing in the creation of ground-breaking innovations in Chinese firms.