Small Business Economics

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

Parent universities and the location of academic startups

  • Stephan HeblichEmail author
  • Viktor Slavtchev


Academic startups are thought to locate in their parent university’s home region because being in the vicinity of a university provides cost advantages in accessing academic knowledge and resources. In this paper we analyze the importance of a different mechanism, namely, social ties between academic entrepreneurs and university researchers, for enabling and facilitating the access to academic knowledge and resources, and therefore for the location of academic startups. We employ unique data on academic startups from regions with more than one university and find that only the parent university influences academic entrepreneurs’ decisions to stay in the region while other universities in the same region play no role. Our findings suggest that the mere local availability of a university may not per se guarantee access to knowledge and resources; social ties are additionally required. The importance of social ties implies that academic knowledge and resources are not necessarily local public good. This holds implications for universities’ role in stimulating regional development.


University startups Academic startups Location choice Social proximity Spillovers 

JEL Classification

M13 L20 R30 



We thank Tom Astebro, Stefan Bauernschuster, Werner Bönte, Oliver Falck, Olav Sorenson and seminar participants at the Council for Regional Economics for insightful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of EconomicsUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK
  2. 2.Structural Change DivisionHalle Institute for Economic Research (IWH)Halle (Saale)Germany

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