The Role of Entrepreneurship Theory and Methods, Practice and Policy
Edited by Sameeksha Desai, Peter Nijkamp and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 13: University Spin-offs: An Exploration of Age-patterns of Obstacles to Growth
Marina van Geenhuizen and Danny P. Soetanto 13.1 THE EUROPEAN PARADOX Growth of small high-technology firms has become a prominent issue in the past decades as they represent a potentially important opportunity to increase economic growth and innovation in regional and urban economies (for example Acs, 2002; Acs and Audretch, 1990). Small hightechnology firms are seen as contributing significantly to the creation of new jobs and to innovation of the (regional) economy through knowledge transfer and linkages with larger firms (for example van Geenhuizen et al., 2004; OECD, 2001). Accordingly, start-up and early growth processes have been the focus of considerable research effort, with the aim to identify factors and conditions that contribute to start-ups’ success or act as barriers. However, there is also a debate about the role of small hightechnology firms, mainly due to their heterogeneous nature. Some of them have remained oriented locally, use short time horizons in planning and have a limited propensity to grow, while others – including the so-called first-movers – are highly specialized in their innovation and, accordingly, aim at growth in international markets (for example Storey and Tether, 1998; Heirman and Clarysse, 2004). Many small high-technology firms are spin-offs from universities and research centers. Following Pirnay et al. (2003), academic spin-offs can be defined as a particular type of spin-off, created for the purpose of commercially exploiting knowledge, technology or research results developed within a university. In addition, the company founder(s) must come from the university, and the transfer of knowledge from the...
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