Theoretical, Empirical and Political Perspectives on the Initial Stage of Cluster Evolution
Edited by Dirk Fornahl, Sebastian Henn and Max-Peter Menzel
Chapter 9: The Role of the University in the Genesis and Evolution of Research-based Clusters
9. The role of the university in the genesis and evolution of researchbased clusters Donald Patton and Martin Kenney* The modern research university, by its commitment to research and the advancement of science and technology, continuously produces inventions, as well as the occasional technological breakthrough, that provide the type of opportunities that allow entrepreneurs to create new firms. The discovery of these opportunities, and assembling the resources to exploit them, has been described as the entrepreneurial event (Feldman 2001) or as the act of entrepreneurial discovery (Kirzner 1997), and the promotion of these entrepreneurial opportunities is now seen by some observers as a major responsibility of the university. Histories of cluster development reveal that cluster emergence (Braunerhjelm and Feldman 2006) is an evolutionary process that requires an initial seeding or triggering event, followed by entrepreneurial activity that builds upon this event. This initial triggering event is frequently the result of serendipity, and can in no way be planned or anticipated.1 A triggering event can also be part of a planned government initiative to stimulate cluster development. In the cases discussed in this chapter these triggering events are the discoveries that emerge from research conducted by the university. In general the first stage of cluster evolution requires a seeding event which produces an economic opportunity, the presence of entrepreneurs who have the knowledge to discover this opportunity and are in a position to act upon it, and the existence of resources for new firm formation in the cluster that are available...
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