“As the developed world continues its slow climb out of the financial crisis, policymakers and companies increasingly look to research universities to generate new ideas and to contribute to innovation and economic development. Academic entrepreneurship—the formation of companies based on intellectual property generated by faculty members—is of particular interest given the publicized success of companies such as Lycos from Carnegie Mellon University and Silicon Graphics and Genentech from Stanford.
The recent and rapid growth of spinoffs is promising. According to the Association of University Technology Managers, the number of companies spun out of universities in the U.S. more than doubled between 1996 and 2005—from 200 to nearly 450.
“Research shows that these companies are not only more likely to attract venture capital and have an initial public offering, but, compared to non-university startups, they also have a higher propensity to survive over time. Consequently, numerous universities have created incubators, venture funds, and other programs to encourage spinoff establishment and growth.”
While these developments are important, new research seeking to understand a startup’s definition of success reveals the motivations and growth aspirations of university academic entrepreneurs may may not always be aligned with greater expectations of spinoffs for economic development.