The development, growth, and performance of university spin-offs: a critical review

Abstract

The literature examining university spin-offs is expanding rapidly. While most studies have examined the antecedents of spin-off creation at universities, the impact of spin-offs commercializing university research cannot be properly assessed without considering how these firms develop, grow, and perform over time. This study provides a systematic review of a recent research stream addressing the development, growth, and performance of university spin-offs. By critically analyzing 105 research papers published since 2000, this paper makes two main contributions. First, we present a conceptual framework outlining the variety of outcomes used in the literature to assess the development, growth and performance of university spin-offs, as well as the determinants of these outcomes at different levels of analysis. Second, we critically assess gaps in the extant literature and discuss promising directions for future research. We conclude that the university spin-off phenomenon provides an excellent empirical context for conducting research that contributes to more general theoretical discussions related to entrepreneurship, innovation and management.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    https://www.autm.net/resources-surveys/research-reports-databases/licensing-surveys/fy2016-licensing-survey/.

  2. 2.

    Thompson Reuters—www.wokinfo.com.

  3. 3.

    The literature search was conducted in October 2016.

  4. 4.

    See http://wokinfo.com/essays/impact-factor/.

  5. 5.

    The journals are, in order of coverage in the database: Journal of Technology Transfer, Research Policy, Technovation, R&D Management, Management Science, Journal of Business Venturing, Industrial and Corporate Change, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice.

  6. 6.

    Mixed method studies are divided equally between the qualitative and quantitative studies.

  7. 7.

    We would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for this point.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful for helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript from the editors and three anonymous referees. Also, we would like to thank Karl Wennberg, Claire Leitch, Øyvind Bjørgum, Øystein Widding and Roger Sørheim. The manuscript was prepared as part of the Ph.D. thesis of the first author. All responsibility for errors of thought or fact remains with the authors.

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Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 7, 8 and 9.

Table 7 Journal special issues and sections related to USO research
Table 8 Database template used to summarize the retrieved literature on USO DGP
Table 9 List of all 105 research papers included in the literature review. Citations collected from Google Scholar November 25th 2016

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Mathisen, M.T., Rasmussen, E. The development, growth, and performance of university spin-offs: a critical review. J Technol Transf 44, 1891–1938 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-018-09714-9

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Keywords

  • Academic entrepreneurship
  • Academic spin-offs
  • Firm growth
  • Literature review
  • Research-based spin-offs
  • University entrepreneurship
  • University spin-offs
  • New venture growth
  • Venture performance

JEL Classification

  • M13
  • L26
  • L25
  • O32
  • O33