The development and deployment of technologies depend upon collaborations concurrently relying on proximity between partners. By employing publication data of German nanotechnology, we augment former findings on the relationship between proximity and collaboration in three ways. First, we shed light on how the various forms of proximity affect different stages of collaboration. Particularly, we split geographical proximity into pure physical and systemic proximity. By doing so, we can show that pure physical proximity plays a role early on, as it positively influences the formation of collaborations. In contrast, systemic proximity affects collaborations later on by inducing higher output. Second, innovation systems shape collaboration networks. We learn that specific features of publicly funded German research organizations influence the formation and output of collaborations via organizational proximity or a lack thereof. Third, cognitive proximity has by far the strongest magnitude of effect on both the formation and the output of collaborations. Particularly, existing partnership being cognitively diverse have a lot of potential. Therefore, research policy and university management might consider to stimulating current partnerships, being cognitively different.