Entrepreneurship and the Financial Community
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Entrepreneurship and the Financial Community

Starting up and Growing New Businesses

Edited by Bart Clarysse, Juan Roure and Tom Schamp

This highly accessible book brings together the insights of leading academics and researchers to promote a better understanding of the role of private equity providers in the development of growth-oriented start-ups and the management of growth processes.
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Chapter 11: Dynamics of University Spin-Out Companies: Entrepreneurial Ventures of Technology Lifestyle Businesses?

Richard T. Harrison and Claire M. Leitch


11. Dynamics of university spin-out companies: entrepreneurial ventures or technology lifestyle businesses? Richard T. Harrison and Claire M. Leitch 1. INTRODUCTION According to a recent commentary in the (London) Financial Times (11 May 2004, p. 13) by Jonathon Guthrie, [There are] growing doubts surrounding university spin-outs, the 1,000 or so new businesses set up to commercialise university research. . . . the government has been using taxpayers’ cash to stimulate the spin-outs that it uses as proof it is succeeding in making boffins more commercially-minded. But . . . there were no figures . . . to prove that costs – including public investment – were less than the sales of products, intellectual property or spin-out equity. The businesses could as easily have been destroying value as creating it. Furthermore, [There is a] need for better measurement of the returns produced by university spin-outs. Without this, it is impossible to see whether they are creating value – leaving the debate on whether spin-outs beat collaboration or licensing to fall back on the voodoo of anecdotal evidence. A central theme in economic, industrial and technology policy discussions across Europe in recent years has been the link between wealth creation and competitiveness in a knowledge-driven global economy and the exploitation of scientific and technological developments in scientific laboratories and universities. Indeed, the higher education sector is increasingly seen as having a significant role to play in regional economic development. Not only are universities important engines of technological development and growth, but they can potentially act as catalysts for the...

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