The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 42–65 | Cite as

Convergence or path dependency in policies to foster the creation of university spin-off firms? A comparison of France and the United Kingdom

  • Philippe Mustar
  • Mike WrightEmail author


This paper examines attempts by French and UK governments to fill the gap between the US and Europe with respect to the creation of academic spin-offs. Analysis of the contrasting cases of the UK and France, shows that there is no convergence of national policies to foster the creation of firms by academics. Rather, the two countries demonstrate different rationales and approaches to policy in this area. In UK, the rationale for spin-off policy is mainly to develop a third stream of financing. Spin-offs are a part of a policy to commercialize technology and knowledge created by universities. Policy is at the university level, leading to the creation of diverse structures. Public schemes bring public money directly to universities. In France, the rationale for policy towards the creation of new ventures by academics is the development of high technology new ventures as part of a technological entrepreneurship policy. The notion of a third stream of financing for universities is an argument that is never advanced. The UK has placed the universities at the heart of policies aimed at the creation of spin-offs, this is not the case in France.


Academic entrepreneurship Universities Technology transfer Technology policy 

JEL Classification

N13 O31 O32 



Financial support from the PRIME network is acknowledged as are comments from an anonymous referee.


  1. Caloghirou, Y., Vonortas, N. S., & Ioannides, S. (2002). Science and technology policies towards research joint ventures. Science & Public Policy, 29, 82–94. doi: 10.3152/147154302781781065.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carlson, B. (2006). Internationalisation of innovation systems: A survey of the literature. Research Policy, 35, 56–67. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2005.08.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chabbal, R. (1995). Le système financier français face à l’investissement innovation. Rapport au Ministre des Entreprises et du Développement économique. Paris: La Documentation Française.Google Scholar
  4. Cicurel, M. (1995). Rapport au Ministre de l’Industrie et au Ministre de l’Economie sur le financement des entreprises de haute technologie.Google Scholar
  5. Clarysse, B., & Muldur, U. (2001). Regional cohesion in Europe? An analysis of how EU public RTD support influences the techno-economic regional landscape. Research Policy, 30, 275–296. doi: 10.1016/S0048-7333(99)00113-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 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(2), 183–216. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2003.12.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Direction de la technologie. (2004). Innovation et recherche technologique, État de la situation et bilan au 31 décembre 2003. Paris: Ministère délégué à l’Enseignement supérieur et à la Recherche.Google Scholar
  8. Direction de la technologie. (2005). Innovation et recherche technologique, État de la situation et bilan au 31 décembre 2004. Paris: Ministère délégué à l’Enseignement supérieur et à la Recherche.Google Scholar
  9. Direction de la technologie. (2006). Innovation et recherche technologique, État de la situation et bilan au 31 décembre 2005. Paris: Ministère délégué à l’Enseignement supérieur et à la Recherche.Google Scholar
  10. DIUS. (2008). Innovation nation. London: DIUS.Google Scholar
  11. Dosi, G., LLerena, P., & Sylos Labini, M. (2006). The relationships between science, technologies and their industrial exploitation: An illustration through the myths and realities of the so-called ‘European Paradox’. Research Policy, 35, 1450–1464. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2006.09.012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Etzkowitz, H., Webster, A., & Healey, P. (Eds.). (1998). Capitalizing knowledge. New intersections of industry and academia, SUNY.Google Scholar
  13. European Commission. (2000). Progress report on the risk capital action pan. Brussels and Luxembourg: European Commission.Google Scholar
  14. Georghiou, L. (2001). The United Kingdom national system of research, technology and innovation. In P. Larédo & P. Mustar (Eds.), Research and innovation policies in the new global economy (pp. 252–296). Cheltenham: An International Comparative Analysis, Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  15. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P., & Throw, M. (1994). The new production of knowledge, the dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Goldfarb, B., & Henrekson, M. (2003). Bottom-up versus top-down policies towards the commercialisation of university intellectual property. Research Policy, 32, 639–658. doi: 10.1016/S0048-7333(02)00034-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Guillaume, H. (1998). La technologie et l’innovation. Paris: La documentation française.Google Scholar
  18. Kuemmerle, W. (2001). Comparing catalysts of change: Evolution and institutional differences in the venture capital industries in the U.S., Japan and Germany, research on technological innovation. Management and Policy, 7, 227–261.Google Scholar
  19. Lawton Smith, H., & Ho, K. (2006). Measuring the performance of Oxford University, Oxford Brookes University and the government laboratories’ spin-off companies. Research Policy, 35, 1554–1568. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2006.09.022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lemola, T. (2002). Convergence of national science and technology policies: The case of Finland. Research Policy, 31, 1481–1490. doi: 10.1016/S0048-7333(02)00077-X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Leydesdorff, L., & Etzkowitz, H. (2001). The transformation of university-industry-government relations. Electronic Journal of Sociology.
  22. Liu, X., & White, S. (2001). Comparing innovation systems: A framework and application to China’s transitional context. Research Policy, 30, 1091–1114. doi: 10.1016/S0048-7333(00)00132-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lockett, A., Murray, G., & Wright, M. (2002). Do UK venture capitalists still have a bias against investment in new technology firms? Research Policy, 31, 1009–1030. doi: 10.1016/S0048-7333(01)00174-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mason, G., Beltramo, J.-P., & Paul, J.-J. (2004). External knowledge sourcing in different national settings: A comparison of electronics establishments in Britain and France. Research Policy, 33, 53–72. doi: 10.1016/S0048-7333(03)00106-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Muller, P., & Surel, Y. (1998). L’analyse des politiques publiques (p. 156). Paris: Montchretien.Google Scholar
  26. Mustar, P. (1988). Science & innovation. Paris: CPE International, Economica.Google Scholar
  27. Mustar, P. (1994). Science & innovation 1995. Paris: Economica.Google Scholar
  28. Mustar, P., & Laredo, P. (2002). Innovation and research policy in France (1980–2000) or the disappearance of the Colbertist state. Research Policy, 31, 55–72. doi: 10.1016/S0048-7333(01)00107-X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mustar, P., Renault, M., Colombo, M., Piva, E., Fontes, M., Lockett, A., et al. (2006). Conceptualising the heterogeneity of research-based spin-offs: A multi-dimensional taxonomy. Research Policy, 35(2), 289–308. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2005.11.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. NAO. (2006). Supporting small business. HC 962 Session 2005–6.Google Scholar
  31. OECD. (2002). Benchmarking industry-science relationships. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  32. OECD. (2003). Turning science into business, patenting and licensing at public research organisations. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  33. PACEC. (2006). Mapping of government services for small business. London: Small Business Service.Google Scholar
  34. Pestre, D. (2000). The production of knowledge between academies and markets: A historical reading of the book the new production of knowledge. Science, Technology & Society, 5(2), 169–181. doi: 10.1177/097172180000500202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Poti, B., & Reale, E. (2000). Convergence and differentiation in institutional change among European public research systems: The decreasing role of public research institutes. Science & Public Policy, 27, 421–431. doi: 10.3152/147154300781781751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Roberts, E. B. (1991). High tech entrepreneurs: Lessons from MIT and beyond. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Roberts, E. B., & Malone, D. E. (1996). Policies and structures for spinning out new companies from research and development organizations. R&D Management, 26(1), 17–48. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9310.1996.tb00927.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sainsbury, L. (2007, October). The race to the top: A review of government’s science and innovation policies. HM Treasury.Google Scholar
  39. Saxenian, A. (1994). The origins and dynamics of production networks in Silicon Valley. Research Policy, 20(5), 423–438. doi: 10.1016/0048-7333(91)90067-Z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. SQW. (2005). Interim evaluation of knowledge transfer programmes funded by the Office of Science and Technology through the science budget. Cambridge: SQW.Google Scholar
  41. UNICO. (2005). Survey of UK commercialisation shows a doubling of licensing activity in 2004. UNICO.Google Scholar
  42. Technology Strategy Board. (2008). Connect and catalyse: A strategy for business innovation 2008–2011.Google Scholar
  43. Wright, M., Binks, M., Vohora, A., & Lockett, A. (2003). UK University commercialization survey: Financial Year 2002. NUBS/UNICO/AURIL.Google Scholar
  44. Wright, M., Clarysse, B., Mustar, P., & Lockett, A. (2007). Academic entrepreneurship in Europe. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  45. Wright, M., & Filatotchev, I. (2008). Stimulating academic entrepreneurship and technology transfer: A case study of Kings College London commercialization strategies. In R. P. O’Shea & T. J. Allen (Eds.), Building technology transfer in research universities: An entrepreneurial approach. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Wright, M., Lockett, A., Clarysse, B., & Binks, M. (2006). University spin-out companies and venture capital. Research Policy, 35(4), 481–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wright, M., Vohora, A., & Lockett, A. (2002). Annual UNICO-NUBS survey on university commercialization activities. NUBS/UNICO.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre de Sociologie de l’InnovationMines ParisTechParisFrance
  2. 2.Centre for Management Buy-out ResearchNottingham University Business SchoolNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Erasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations