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An empirical analysis of the relationship between university investments in the Technology Transfer Offices and academic spin-offs


  • Donato Iacobucci

    () (Università Politecnica delle Marche)

  • Alessandra Micozzi

    () (Università Politecnica delle Marche)

  • Andrea Piccaluga

    () (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa)


The aim of this paper is to analyze the role of Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) in promoting the creation of academic spin-offs and contributing to their performance. Specifically, it aims to identify the relationship between the resources invested in TTOs and the creation and growth of academic spin-offs. The empirical analysis refers to Italy, where a law passed in 1999 allowed academicians to be actively involved in newly-established companies for the ‘industrial use of research’. Even if spin-offs existed, de factu, before 1999, since then, almost all Public Research Institutions (PRIs) have developed specific regulations for the creation of academic spin-offs and provided resources to promote and support them. We used the data on the flow of academic spin-offs and resources invested in TTOs in Italian universities during the period 2002-2010 to investigate if and how investments in TTOs contributed to the set-up and performance of spin-offs. The results of the empirical analysis show that in a first phase academicians reacted more readily than universities to the opportunity offered by the new legislation, which may in part be due to the organizational rigidity that characterizes PRIs in Italy. However, the empirical analysis also shows that after this initial phase the size of the TTO (in terms of employees), which is the result of investments by the university, has a positive influence on the number of spin-offs set up by universities. However, we found no relationship between the resources invested in TTOs and the performance of spin-offs, which probably depends more dependent from both long term investments in research and the (economic) characteristics of external environment in which the university is located.

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  • Donato Iacobucci & Alessandra Micozzi & Andrea Piccaluga, 2015. "An empirical analysis of the relationship between university investments in the Technology Transfer Offices and academic spin-offs," Working Papers 1504, c.MET-05 - Centro Interuniversitario di Economia Applicata alle Politiche per L'industria, lo Sviluppo locale e l'Internazionalizzazione, revised Feb 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:cme:wpaper:1504

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Helen Lawton Smith, 2007. "Universities, innovation, and territorial development: a review of the evidence," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 25(1), pages 98-114, February.
    2. Clarysse, Bart & Wright, Mike & Lockett, Andy & Van de Velde, Els & Vohora, Ajay, 2005. "Spinning out new ventures: a typology of incubation strategies from European research institutions," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 183-216, March.
    3. Rory O’Shea & Harveen Chugh & Thomas Allen, 2008. "Determinants and consequences of university spinoff activity: a conceptual framework," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 33(6), pages 653-666, December.
    4. Fini, Riccardo & Grimaldi, Rosa & Santoni, Simone & Sobrero, Maurizio, 2011. "Complements or substitutes? The role of universities and local context in supporting the creation of academic spin-offs," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1113-1127, October.
    5. Lockett, Andy & Wright, Mike, 2005. "Resources, capabilities, risk capital and the creation of university spin-out companies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1043-1057, September.
    6. Riccardo Fini & Rosa Grimaldi & Maurizio Sobrero, 2009. "Factors fostering academics to start up new ventures: an assessment of Italian founders’ incentives," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 34(4), pages 380-402, August.
    7. Massimo Colombo & Diego D’Adda & Evila Piva, 2010. "The contribution of university research to the growth of academic start-ups: an empirical analysis," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 113-140, February.
    8. Philippe Mustar & Mike Wright, 2010. "Convergence or path dependency in policies to foster the creation of university spin-off firms? A comparison of France and the United Kingdom," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 42-65, February.
    9. Geuna, Aldo & Nesta, Lionel J.J., 2006. "University patenting and its effects on academic research: The emerging European evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 790-807, July.
    10. Djordje Djokovic & Vangelis Souitaris, 2008. "Spinouts from academic institutions: a literature review with suggestions for further research," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 225-247, June.
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    academic spin-offs; TTO; set-up; growth;

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