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Mattia Cattaneo and Michele Meoli

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Silvio Vismara and Michele Meoli

Spanning monetary rewards to self-enhancing goals, existing studies on individual motivations to establish academic spin-offs share a positive inclination. Nevertheless, this type of firm does not outperform other start-ups. With a longitudinal study of 559 spin-offs from 85 Italian universities in the period 1999 to 2013, and controlling for several university- and context-level factors, we find that a lack of academic job positions at a regional level results in a higher propensity to spin-offs. Accordingly, we argue that academics sometimes become entrepreneurs as a second-best solution, because of shortcomings in the market for knowledge. This effect is negatively moderated by the teaching load in technology-based spin-offs, and by administrative support in non-technology spin-offs. We argue that a lack of administrative support might create an incentive to spin-off non-technology firms replacing the role of administrative staff.

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Alice Civera, Michele Meoli and Silvio Vismara

Much attention has been devoted to academic entrepreneurship during the last thirty years, especially to academic spin-off activity. Starting from our own contribution to academic spin-off literature, we identify the main gaps in literature and we outline an agenda for additional research on some aspects of academic entrepreneurship, namely the establishment and performance of academic spin-offs in terms of individual, university, and system levels. As a generalization, a change of paradigm is required in order to address the multiple changes affecting the commercialization of university knowledge due to the numerous stakeholders involved, the variety of innovative entrepreneurial mechanisms, and the more “strategic approach” of universities toward entrepreneurship.