Starting up and Growing New Businesses
Edited by Bart Clarysse, Juan Roure and Tom Schamp
Chapter 11: Dynamics of University Spin-Out Companies: Entrepreneurial Ventures of Technology Lifestyle Businesses?
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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