The nature of academic entrepreneurship in the UK: Widening the focus on entrepreneurial activities
We argue that the current focus of the academic entrepreneurship literature, which is mostly on patent-based activities such as spinouts and licensing, should be widened to also include other informal commercial and non-commercial activities that are entrepreneurial in nature. We define as entrepreneurial any activity that occurs beyond the traditional academic roles of teaching and/or research, is innovative, carries an element of risk, and leads to financial rewards for the individual academic or his/her institution. These financial rewards can occur directly or indirectly via an increase in reputation, prestige, influence or societal benefits. Informal activities are particularly common in disciplines such as the social sciences, the creative arts and the humanities and are often overlooked by TTOs and by the academic literature. Our aim is to fill this gap by empirically analysing the determinants of academic engagement in a wider range of activities than those that are typically considered. Our findings have implications for the practice of academic entrepreneurship, and for the effectiveness of university efforts to promote entrepreneurial activities via the formal IP system and through TTOs. Our analysis is based on a recently completed survey of UK academics, providing micro-data on over 22,000 academics in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. The data are complemented using institution-level information on financial and logistical support for entrepreneurial activities.
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