The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 653–666 | Cite as

Determinants and consequences of university spinoff activity: a conceptual framework

  • Rory P. O’SheaEmail author
  • Harveen Chugh
  • Thomas J. Allen


The characteristics and behavior of university spinoff activity is an important subject in economic and management studies literature. Such studies merit research because it is suggested that university innovations stimulate economies by spurring product development, by creating new industries, and by contributing to employment and wealth creation. For this reason, universities have come to be highly valued in terms of the economic potential of their research efforts. The aim of this paper is to offer a framework for the study of academic entrepreneurship that explains different aspects of university spinoff behavior in a coherent way. We suggest that the existing literature on this topic can be categorized into six separate streams and synthesized in a framework that captures the determinants and consequences of spinoff activity.


University spinoffs Academic entrepreneurship 

JEL Classifications

L31 M13 O31 O32 


  1. Allen, T. J., & Sosa, M. L. (2004). 50 years of engineering management through the lens of the IEEE Transactions; T-EM Nov. 391–395.Google Scholar
  2. Allen, T. J., Tushman, M. L., & Lee, D. M. (1979). Technology transfer as a function of position in the spectrum from research through development to technical services. Academy of Management Journal, 22(4), 694–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Association of University Technology Managers FY (2001). The AUTM Licensing Surveys; University Start-up Data. AUTM Inc., Norwalk, Connecticut.Google Scholar
  4. Association of University Technology Managers FY (2004). The AUTM U.S. Licensing Survey.Google Scholar
  5. Audretsch, D. (2000). Is University Entrepreneurship Different? Mimeo, Indiana University.Google Scholar
  6. Bank Boston (1997). MIT: The Impact of Innovation. Bank Boston Economics Department Special Report, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  7. Birley, S. (2002). Universities, academics and spinout companies: lessons from imperial. International Journal of Entrepreneurship Education, 1(1), 1–21.Google Scholar
  8. Blumenthal, D., Campbell, E. G., Causino, N., & Louis, K. (1996). Participation of life science faculty in research relationships with industry. New England Journal of Medicine, 335, 1734–1739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carlsson, B., & Fridh, A.-C. (2002). Technology transfer in United States universities: a survey and statistical analysis. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 12, 199–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clarysse, B., Wright, M., Lockett, A., Van de Velde, E., & Vohora, A. (2005). Spinning out new ventures: A typology of incubation strategies from European research institutions. Journal of Business Venturing, 20, 183–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Colyvas, J., Crow, M., Gelijns, A., Mazzoleni, R., Nelson, R. R., Rosenberg, N., & Sampat, B. N. (2002). How do university inventions get into practice? Management Science, 48(1), 61–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dahlstrand, A. (1997). Growth and inventiveness in technology-based spinoffs firms. Research Policy, 26(3), 331–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Davenport, S., Carr, A., & Bibby, D. (2002). Leveraging talent: Spin-off strategy at industrial research. R & D Management, 32(3), 241–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Debackere, K. (2000). Managing academic R&D as business at K.U. Leuven: Context, structure and process. R&D Management, 30(4), 323–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Degroof, J.-J., & Roberts, E. B. (2004). Overcoming weak entrepreneurial infrastructures for academic spin-off ventures. Journal of Technology Transfer, 29(3–4), 327–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DiGregorio, D., & Shane, S. (2003). Why do some universities generate more start-ups than others? Research Policy, 32(2), 209–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Djokovic, D., & Souitaris, V. (2007). Spinouts from academic institutions. A literature review with suggestions for further research. Journal of Technology Transfer (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  18. Druilhe, C., & Garnsey, E. (2004). Do academic spin-outs differ and does it matter? Journal of Technology Transfer, 29(3–4), 269–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ensley, M. D., & Hmieleski, K. M. (2005). A comparative study of new venture top management team composition, dynamics and performance between university-based and independent start-ups. Research Policy, 34, 1091–1105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Feldman, M. P., & Desrochers, P. (2004). Truth for Its own sake: Academic culture and technology transfer at the Johns Hopkins University. Minerva, 42(2), 105–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Feldman, M. P., & Francis, J. (2003). Fortune favors the prepared region: The case of entrepreneurship and the capitol region biotechnology cluster. European Planning Studies, 11, 765–788.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Florida, R., & Kenney M. (1988). Venture capital-financed innovation and technological change in the United States. Research Policy, 17, 119–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. George, G., Jain, S., & Maltarich, M. (2006). Academics or entrepreneurs? Entrepreneurial identity and invention disclosure behavior of university scientists. Paper presented at the University Technology Transfer and Commercialization of Research: Antecedents and Consequences Symposium, Academy of Management Conference, Atlanta, USA.Google Scholar
  24. Goldfarb, B., & Henrekson, M. (2003). Bottom-up vs. top-down policies towards the commercialization of university intellectual property. Research Policy, 32(4), 639–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hague, D., & Oakley, K. (2000). Spin-offs and Start-Ups in UK Universities. Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP) Report.Google Scholar
  26. Kenney, M. (2000). Understanding Silicon Valley: The anatomy of an entrepreneurial region. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kenney, M., & Goe, W. R. (2004). The role of social embeddedness in professorial entrepreneurship: A comparison of electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley and Stanford. Research Policy, 33, 691–707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kirby, D. A. (2006). Creating entrepreneurial universities in the UK: applying entrepreneurship theory to practice. Journal of Technology Transfer, 31(5), 599–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lacetera, N. (2006). Different missions and commitment power in R&D organization: Theory and evidence on industry-university relations. MIT Sloan School Working Paper 4528-05.Google Scholar
  30. Lenoir, T., & Giannella, E. (2006). Mapping the impact of federally funded extra-university research and development on the emergence of self-sustaining knowledge domains: The case of microarray technologies. Paper presented at the University Technology Transfer and Commercialization of Research: Antecedents and Consequences Symposium, Academy of Management Conference, Atlanta, USA.Google Scholar
  31. Link, A. N., & Siegel, D. S. (2005). Generating science-based growth: An econometric analysis of the impact of organizational incentives on university-industry technology transfer. European Journal of Finance, 11(3), 169–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lockett, A., & Wright, M. (2005). Resources, capabilities, risk capital and the creation of university spin-out companies. Research Policy, 34(7), 1043–1057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Louis, K. S., Blumenthal, D., Gluck, M. E., & Stoto, M. A. (1989). Entrepreneurs in academe: An exploration of behaviors among life scientists. Administrative Science Quarterly, 34(1), 110–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Markman, G. D., Gianiodis, P. T., Phan, P. H., & Balkin, D. B. (2004). Entrepreneurship from the ivory tower: Do incentive systems matter? Journal of Technology Transfer, 29(3–4), 353–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Markman, G. D., Gianiodis, P. T., Phan, P. H., & Balkin, D. B. (2005). Innovation speed: Transferring university technology to market. Research Policy, 34, 1058–1075.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Meseri, O., & Maital, S. (2001). A survey of university-technology transfer in Israel: Evaluation of projects and determinants of success. Journal of Technology Transfer, 26(1–2), 115–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mowery, D. C., & Shane, S. (2002). Introduction to the special issue on university entrepreneurship and technology transfer. Management Science, 48(1), v–ix.Google Scholar
  38. Murray, F. (2006). Exchange relationships & cumulative innovation: standing on the shoulders of oncomouse. Paper presented at the University Technology Transfer and Commercialization of Research: Antecedents and Consequences Symposium, Academy of Management Conference, Atlanta, USA.Google Scholar
  39. Mustar, P. (1997). spin-off enterprises: how french academics create Hi-Tech companies: The conditions for success or failure. Science and Public Policy, 24(1), 37–43.Google Scholar
  40. Mustar, P., Renualt, M., Colombo, M.G., Piva, E., Fontes, M., Lockett, A., Wright, M., Clarysse, B., & Moray, N. (2006). Conceptualising the heterogeneity of research-based spin-offs: A multi-dimensional taxonomy. Research Policy, 35, 289–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ndonzuau, F. N., Pirnay, F., & Surlemont, B. (2002). A stage model of academic spin-off creation. Technovation, 22(5), 281–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nerkar, A., & Shane, S. (2003). When do startups that exploit academic knowledge survive? International Journal of Industrial Organization, 21(9), 1291–1410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nicolaou, N., & Birley, S. (2003a). Academic networks in a trichotomous categorisation of university spin-outs. Journal of Business Venturing, 18(3), 333–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nicolaou, N., & Birley, S. (2003b). Social networks in organizational emergence: The university spinout phenomenon. Management Science, 49(12), 1702–1725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. O’Shea, R. P., Allen, T. J., Chevalier, A., & Roche, F. (2005). Entrepreneurial orientation, technology transfer and spinoff performance of U.S. Universities. Research Policy, 34, 994–1009.Google Scholar
  46. O’Shea, R. P., Allen, T. J., Morse, K. P., O’Gorman, C., & Roche, F. (2007). Delineating the anatomy of an entrepreneurial university: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Experience. R&D Management, 37(1), 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Powers, J., & McDougall, P. (2005). University start-up formation and technology licensing with firms that go public: A resource based view of academic entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 20(3), 291–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Radosevich, R. (1995). A model for entrepreneurial spin-offs from public technology sources. International Journal of Technology Management, 10(7/8), 879–893.Google Scholar
  49. Roberts, E. (1991). Entrepreneurs in high technology, lessons from MIT and beyond. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Roberts, E., & Malone, D. E. (1996). Policies and structures for spinning off new companies from research and development organizations. R&D Management, 26, 17–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rogers, E. M., Takegami, S., & Yin, J. (2001). Lessons learned about technology transfer. Technovation, 21(4), 253–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sampat, B. N. (2006). Patenting and US academic research in the 20th century: The world before and after Bayh-Dole. Research Policy, 35, 772–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Saxenian, A. (1994). Regional advantage: Culture and competition in silicon valley and route 128. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Shane, S. (2004a). Academic entrepreneurship: University spin-offs and wealth creation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  55. Shane, S. (2004b). Encouraging university entrepreneurship: The effect of the Bayh-Dole act on university patenting in the United States. Journal of Business Venturing, 19(1), 127–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Shane, S., & Stuart, T. (2002). Organizational endowments and the performance of university start-ups. Management Science, 48(1), 154–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Siegel, D. S., Waldman, D., & Link, A. (2003). Assessing the impact of organizational practices on the relative productivity of university technology transfer offices: An exploratory study. Research Policy, 32, 27–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Siegel, D. S., Waldman, D., Atwater, L., & Link, A. (2004). Toward a model of the effective transfer of scientific knowledge from academicians to practitioners: Qualitative evidence from the commercialization of university technologies. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 21, 115–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Smilor, R. W., Gibson, D. V., & Dietrich, G. B. (1990). University spinout companies: Technology start-ups from UT-austin. Journal of Business Venturing, 5, 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sorenson, O., & Stuart, T. E. (2001). Syndication networks and the spatial distribution of venture capital financing. American Journal of Sociology, 106, 1546–1588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Steffensen, M., Rogers, E. M., & Speakman, K. (1999). Spin-offs from research centers at a research university. Journal of Business Venturing, 15, 93–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Stuart, T. E., & Ding, W. W. (2006). When do scientists become entrepreneurs? The social structural antecedents of commercial activity in the academic life sciences. American Journal of Sociology 112(1), 97–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Thursby, J., & Kemp, S. (2002) Growth and productive efficiency of university intellectual property licensing. Research Policy, 31, 109–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Vanaelst, I., Clarysse, B., Wright, M., Lockett, A., Moray, N., & S’Jegers, R. (2006). Entrepreneurial team development in academic spinouts: An examination of team heterogeneity. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 30(2), 249–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Vohora, A., Wright, M., & Lockett, A. (2004). Critical junctures in the development of university high-tech spin-out companies. Research Policy, 33, 147–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wallmark, J. T. (1997). Inventions and patents at universities: The case of Chalmers University of Technology. Technovation, 17(3), 127–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wright, M., Birley, S., & Mosey, S. (2004a). Entrepreneurship and university technology transfer. Journal of Technology Transfer, 29(3–4), 235–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wright, M., Lockett, A., Clarysse, B., & Binks, M. (2006). University spin-out companies and venture capital. Research Policy, 35, 481–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wright, M., Vohora, A., & Lockett, A. (2004b). The formation of high-tech university spinouts: The role of joint ventures and venture capital investors. Journal of Technology Transfer, 29(3–4), 287–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Zucker, L. G., Darby, M. R., & Armstrong, J. (1998a). Geographically localized knowledge: Spillovers or markets? Economic Inquiry, 36, 65–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zucker, L. G., Darby, M. R., & Brewer, M. B. (1998b). Intellectual human capital and the birth of U.S. biotechnology enterprises. American Economic Review, 88(1), 190–305.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rory P. O’Shea
    • 1
    Email author
  • Harveen Chugh
    • 2
  • Thomas J. Allen
    • 3
  1. 1.UCD School of BusinessUniversity College Dublin, National University of IrelandDublinIreland
  2. 2.Entrepreneurship Centre, Tanaka Business SchoolImperial College London, South Kensington campusLondonUK
  3. 3.MIT Sloan School of ManagementCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations