New venture creation in academia: preconditions and drivers for the emergence of academic spin-offs

Purpose of the paper: This study aims to explore determinants for the emergence of academic spin-offs (ASOs). We analyzed individual, institutional and infrastructural factors that lead to the emergence of ASOs and their influence on the business model choice of firms in their start-up phase.

Methodology: The analysis is based on quantitative and qualitative methods; the field of research is the life sciences faculty of the University of Siena.

Findings: Consultancy by researchers is a positive predictor of the propensity to create a business. Quality and quantity of scientific production are associated positively but only up to a certain threshold, beyond which academics have less inclination for entrepreneurship. University department size plays a decisive role: scarcity of resources may limit the emergence and growth of ASOs. Science parks and university-industry liaison structures play a crucial role in the emergence and survival of new businesses. The resources, competence and motivation of the founders are the main determinants of the choice of business model of ASOs during the start-up phase.

Research limitations: The analysis regarded one medium-sized university and a single (albeit large) scientific field, i.e. life sciences.

Managerial implications: The results can help managers assess ex ante which university careers potentially lead to the emergence of ASOs.

Originality of the paper: Few prior studies have considered qualitative and quantitative empirical evidence on factors influencing the emergence of ASOs and the choice of business model during the start-up phase.

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