Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research
Edited by Robert Blackburn, Frédéric Delmar, Alain Fayolle and Friederike Welter
Chapter 8: Entrepreneurial networks in university spin-offs: an analysis of the external entrepreneur model
There has in recent years been a huge policy interest in university spin-offs as a way of commercializing technology based on publicly funded research. Empirical studies have fuelled this interest by showing that these ventures contribute disproportionately to economic growth and regional development. Steffensen et al. (2000), for example, provide evidence that university spin-offs tend to locate close to the parent university, which means that their economic benefits in terms of job creation and taxable wealth accrue locally. Moreover, Shane (2004) shows that university spin-offs have high survival rates and a high likelihood of attracting venture capital compared to the average start-up. University spin-offs can in this respect be seen as highly potent ventures that can provide value, wealth and satisfaction for a range of different actors in the innovation system, including entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and policy makers (Wright et al. 2007). Despite their inherent high-growth potential, university spin-offs also face a range of critical challenges and uncertainties in the start-up phase that risk hampering their development (Lockett and Wright 2005). One important means for coping with these issues is social networks, where entrepreneurs interact and engage with key stakeholders to achieve their objectives and strategies (Birley 1985). Studies have in this respect shown that the ability to effectively interact and network with critical constituencies may increase the legitimacy, reputation and credibility of both the firm and the entrepreneur (Baum et al. 2000; Jack 2005; Anderson et al. 2007).
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