We study the role of geography in R&D networks by means of a quantitative, micro-geographic approach. Using a large database that covers international R&D collaborations from 1984 to 2009, we localize each actor precisely in space through its latitude and longitude. This allows us to analyze the R&D network at all geographic scales simultaneously. Our empirical results show that despite the high importance of the city level, transnational R&D collaborations at large distances are much more frequent than expected from similar networks. This provides evidence for the ambiguity of distance in economic cooperation which is also suggested by the existing literature. In addition we test whether the hypothesis of local buzz and global pipelines applies to the observed R&D network by calculating well-defined metrics from network theory.