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University Invention, Entrepreneurship, and Start-Ups

  • Celestine Chukumba
  • Richard Jensen

This paper develops a game-theoretic model that predicts when a university invention is commercialized in a start-up firm rather than an established firm. The model predicts that university inventions are more likely to occur in start-ups when the technology transfer officers (TTOs) search cost is high, the cost of development or commercialization is lower for a start-up, or the inventor's effort cost in development is lower in a start-up. We test the theory using data from the Association of University Technology Managers, the National Research Council, and the National Venture Capital Association. Licensing is more likely in general, and especially so in start-ups, by universities with higher quality engineering faculty and older TTOs. Start-ups are more likely by universities in states with larger levels of venture capital. TTO size has no effect on start-ups, but does increase licenses. Conversely, universities that earn greater licensing royalties have fewer start-ups but more licenses. The number of start-ups is decreasing in the interest rate, increasing in the S&P 500, and unaffected by levels of industrial research funding and the presence of a medical school. All of these results are consistent with the predictions of our theory.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11475.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11475
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  1. Richard A. Jensen & Jerry G. Thursby & Marie C. Thursby, 2003. "The Disclosure and Licensing of University Inventions," NBER Working Papers 9734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jerry Thursby & Marie Thursby, 2005. "Gender Patterns of Research and Licensing Activity of Science and Engineering Faculty," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 343-353, October.
  3. Samuel Kortum & Josh Lerner, 2000. "Assessing the Contribution of Venture Capital to Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(4), pages 674-692, Winter.
  4. Marie Thursby & Richard Jensen, 2001. "Proofs and Prototypes for Sale: The Licensing of University Inventions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 240-259, March.
  5. Owen-Smith, Jason & Powell, Walter W, 2001. " To Patent or Not: Faculty Decisions and Institutional Success at Technology Transfer," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(1-2), pages 99-114, January.
  6. Jerry G. Thursby & Marie C. Thursby, 2004. "Are Faculty Critical? Their Role in University-Industry Licensing," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(2), pages 162-178, 04.
  7. Macho-Stadler Inés & Pérez-Castrillo David & Veugelers Reinhilde, 2005. "Licensing of University Inventions: The Role of a Technology Transfer Office," Working Papers 201022, Fundacion BBVA / BBVA Foundation.
  8. Dechenaux, Emmanuel & Thursby, Marie & Thursby, Jerry, 2009. "Shirking, sharing risk and shelving: The role of university license contracts," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 80-91, January.
  9. Donald Siegel & David Waldman & Albert Link, 1999. "Assessing the Impact of Organizational Practices on the Productivity of University Technology Transfer Offices: An Exploratory Study," NBER Working Papers 7256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Maryann Feldman & Irwin Feller & Janet Bercovitz & Richard Burton, 2002. "Equity and the Technology Transfer Strategies of American Research Universities," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 105-121, January.
  11. Paula E. Stephan, 1996. "The Economics of Science," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1199-1235, September.
  12. Levin, Sharon G & Stephan, Paula E, 1991. "Research Productivity over the Life Cycle: Evidence for Academic Scientists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 114-32, March.
  13. Hoppe, Heidrun C. & Ozdenoren, Emre, 2005. "Intermediation in Innovation," CEPR Discussion Papers 4891, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Di Gregorio, Dante & Shane, Scott, 2003. "Why do some universities generate more start-ups than others?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 209-227, February.
  15. Thursby, Jerry G & Jensen, Richard & Thursby, Marie C, 2001. " Objectives, Characteristics and Outcomes of University Licensing: A Survey of Major U.S. Universities," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(1-2), pages 59-72, January.
  16. Jerry G. Thursby & Marie C. Thursby, 2000. "Who is Selling the Ivory Tower? Sources of Growth in University Licensing," NBER Working Papers 7718, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Thomas Hellmann, 2007. "The Role of Patents for Bridging the Science to Market Gap," NBER Chapters, in: Academic Science and Entrepreneurship: Dual Engines of Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Scott Shane & Toby Stuart, 2002. "Organizational Endowments and the Performance of University Start-ups," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 154-170, January.
  19. Thursby, Jerry G. & Kemp, Sukanya, 2002. "Growth and productive efficiency of university intellectual property licensing," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 109-124, January.
  20. Lerner, Josh, 1999. "The Government as Venture Capitalist: The Long-Run Impact of the SBIR Program," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72(3), pages 285-318, July.
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