University Spinoff Firms versus Innovative Startups: performance comparison in Italy

ENTREPRENEURSHIP (Prof.ssa Zucchella)

University Spinoff Firms versus Innovative Startups: performance comparison in Italy

Michele Modina - Francesco Capalbo - Marco Sorrentino - Gabriele Ianiro - Muhammad Fayaz Khan

Objectives.    Over the past twenty years, a new systemic and territorial view of innovation development processes has aroused growing interest among scholars and policymakers all over the world. New strands of literature regarding innovation (e.g., Adner, 2006; Carayannis & Campbell, 2009; Oh et al. 2016; Gomes et al., 2018) and entrepreneurial (e.g., Stam, 2015; Spigel, 2017; Acs et al., 2017) ecosystems have since tried to explain the mechanisms of value creation and value capture that should foster the development of innovation and high growth entrepreneurship at the regional and national level.

Parallel to those advancements, the European Union has set the development of innovation ecosystems as pillars for the last (2014-2020) and the present (2021-2027) programming periods. Nevertheless, as reported in the EU’s Regional Innovation Scoreboard (Hollanders et al., 2012; 2014; 2016; 2019; Hollanders & Es-Sadki, 2017), some countries have not improved their innovation performance over time, compared to the other member states. Among those, the case of Italy is particularly significant: despite being one of the major economies in the EU, it is still lagging behind other large European economies in terms of innovation and growth rates, and it is still a ‘moderate’ innovator.

In order to deal with this issue, the innovation ecosystem construct emerges as a suitable framework to give relevance to the role of regional actors in this regard, and to help understand how the relationships among ecosystem actors at the regional and national level may affect the overall performance (Adner, 2006; Carayannis & Campbell, 2009; Autio & Thomas, 2014; Brown & Mason, 2017; Gomes et al. 2018; Granstrand & Holgersson, 2020). Innovation ecosystems’ success, indeed, relies on the quality of the relations, the quality of the actors and the artifacts, and the quality of the institutions that characterize a region or a nation. However, although the literature on innovation ecosystems has advanced over time both on the theoretical and the empirical sides, it still lacks empirical evidence on specific contexts and groups of actors, thus leaving a gap in the understanding of how to create actor-specific policies to foster innovation development in a defined region or nation, as in the case of Italy.

Throughout the world, these ecosystems are populated by actors from the worlds of academia, industry, and government (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 2000), and by the media-based and culture-based public (Carayannis & Campbell, 2009). Among them, however, a central role in innovation ecosystems in Europe is played by Universities (Reichert, 2019), which have been recognized as “orchestrators” of local innovation networks, thanks to their efforts in raising quality human capital, producing impactful research, and establishing collaborative networks with other ecosystem actors with the goals of knowledge and value co-creation.

#innovation ecosystem #innovation strategies #innovative startup #startup performance #university spin-off