National and Regional Perspectives
Edited by Michael Fritsch
Chapter 9: Universities, Entrepreneurship, and Local Economic Development
Thomas Åstebro and Navid Bazzazian1 INTRODUCTION The last 30 years have seen an increasing rate of spin-offs from university research: the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) which collects quantitative data on licensing activities at US universities and research institutions reports 3,376 spin-offs between 1980 and 2000, and another 2,885 between 2001 and 2007. This acceleration is not confined to the US. There is a concomitant increase in other countries across the world. An increasing fraction of academics are engaging in entrepreneurial activities (Thursby and Thursby, 2007) and more companies are started based on research at universities than these numbers reveal since not all spin-offs are disclosed to universities and faculty may also start up businesses that are not based on university intellectual property rights (IP).2 While university spin-offs have been increasing in absolute terms, licenses of university patents to established firms strongly dominate over spin-offs as a form of technology commercialization. In 2007 there were eight times as many executed licenses to each university spin-off. However, spin-offs are becoming relatively more important as the relationship was even larger a decade ago; 12 licenses per start-up in 1996 (AUTM data). This literature review spans several areas of research with a focus on the impact of universities on local entrepreneurship and economic development. There is also some original research; several secondary datasets are re-analyzed and we add some primary interview and case data from a few universities.3 We do not examine the broader economic impacts of universities on...
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