The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 380–402 | Cite as

Factors fostering academics to start up new ventures: an assessment of Italian founders’ incentives

  • Riccardo FiniEmail author
  • Rosa Grimaldi
  • Maurizio Sobrero


Why do university researchers decide to start-up a new venture? How can we distinguish between the different factors influencing such an important decision? To what extent are specific policies activated within universities relevant in the process of new venture creation? In this paper we try to answer these very significant questions, through an empirical analysis performed on a sample of 88 Italian academics involved in the creation of 47 spin-offs between 1999 and 2005. Our findings show that the availability of technologies with a potential for commercial exploitation, the possibility to access university infrastructures and the personal benefits are the most important incentives for academics. More generally, academics’ involvement in creating new ventures is not driven by an entrepreneurial attitude, but rather by the expectation of generating results which will enhance their academic position. Additional investments and efforts made by some universities to create more mechanisms to support spin-offs are not perceived as additional incentives. These results hold after controlling for academic founders’ institutional affiliation, status, and the companies’ growth over their first two years of existence. Implications for public policy and organizational processes are discussed.


Technology transfer Academic spin-off Founders’ incentives 

JEL Classifications

O31 O32 O38 



Financial support from the FIRB project (#RBNEO3ZLFW_001) is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Riccardo Fini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rosa Grimaldi
    • 1
  • Maurizio Sobrero
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ManagementUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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