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Effects of the quality of science on the initial public offering of university spinoffs: evidence from Japan

A Correction to this article was published on 03 August 2022

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The systematic application of science plays a critical role in innovation, and universities are the largest source of scientific knowledge. This makes university knowledge transfer critical to the growth of knowledge-based economies. Academic entrepreneurship is a promising route for university knowledge spillover, and the creation of university spinoffs (USOs) has been supported by the national and local governments in Japan. Against a backdrop of recent findings suggesting that the quality of science signals growth potential of USOs, this study examines the relationship between the quality of scientific publications authored by university-based scientists affiliated with USOs and the probability of the firm owner intending the initial public offering. A national government’s USO database combined with Elsevier’s SciVal was analyzed. Estimated random-effects logistic regression models show that citation impact matters more than publication count. Meanwhile, field-weighted citation impact indicators do not exhibit significant effects. Moreover, comparison between USOs that exclusively aim to commercialize university patents and those defined by non-technological aspects emphasizes the heterogeneity in growth strategy among USOs.

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  1. Indicators other than forward citations that positively affect firm value include technology cycle time and science linkage (Hirschey & Richardson, 2001), patent litigation (Nakanishi & Yamada, 2007), patent scope or diversity (Chen & Chang, 2010), patent family (Fischer & Leidinger, 2014), and a composite indicator comprising forward citations, backward citations, patent family, and claims (Lanjouw & Schankerman, 2004).

  2. The mechanism through which science affects firm value may not be linear as assumed in this study. The moderating effect of entrepreneurial intermediaries (e.g., venture capitalists) on the relationship between the quality of science and USO performance has been examined in another paper (Fukugawa, 2022).


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This paper is a product of the research project Developing an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, conducted at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade, and Industry (RIETI). I thank the project members and participants in RIETI Discussion Paper Workshop and Innovation Economics Workshop for their comments on the draft. I particularly appreciate technical support by Shoji Takahashi (Elsevier). The usual caveats apply.


This study is financially supported by a grant-in-aid from the Nomura Foundation and another from the Zengin Foundation for Studies on Economics and Finance.

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Correspondence to Nobuya Fukugawa.

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The original online version of this article was revised: In the original publication of the article, the reference Fukugawa (2022) was incorrectly published.

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Fukugawa, N. Effects of the quality of science on the initial public offering of university spinoffs: evidence from Japan. Scientometrics 127, 4439–4455 (2022).

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