The current paper is concerned with exploring the role of absorptive capacity in extending the reach of innovation-related collaboration in high technology small firms. Drawing on survey data from a sample of 316 Dutch high-tech small firms, engaged in 1245 collaborations, we explore the relationship between R&D expenditure and distance to collaboration partners. In general terms, we find most partners to be ‘local’. However, controlling for a variety of potential influences, higher R&D expenditure is positively related to collaboration with more distant organizations. The implications of our results for policy, practice and future research are discussed.