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Scoping paper: Developing University Innovation Capacity: How can innovation policy effectively harness universities’ capability to promote high-growth technology businesses?


  • Einar Rasmussen

    (Bodø Graduate School of Business (HHB), University of Nordland)

  • Paul Benneworth

    (Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) at the University of the Twente)

  • Magnus Gulbrandsen

    (Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK), University of Oslo)


Some universities and departments have been very successful in stimulating university spin-off firms (USOs). This has persuaded policy makers and university administrators to devote considerable resources to improve universities' capabilities to promote USOs, but with little tangible results. Related research has considered why some universities contributes more to business innovation than others, but whether the majority of universities can become innovation hotbeds remains an open question. This paper takes a novel interdisciplinary approach integrating insights from two separate literatures, academic entrepreneurship and university management. We start by taking the firm’s perspective and seek to understand the challenges faced by USOs and how universities can assist these firms in developing their entrepreneurial competencies. The structure and main purpose of universities are very different from that of new technology businesses and the transition from being an academic research activity to become a commercial business activity poses challenges both for the university and the USO. Much research on universities’ entrepreneurial capability focuses on ‘what’ universities can do to support USOs at the expense of ‘why’ universities’ might choose to promote USOs when they are under many intense competing demands from outside. We explore not only what universities can do to support USOs, but also how universities experience USOs’ support demands, and the circumstances under which universities can develop capability to promote USOs. We address the barriers that arise between universities and USOs and discuss mitigating factors which support the competencies of USOs whilst at the same time meet the different university stakeholders’ needs.

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  • Einar Rasmussen & Paul Benneworth & Magnus Gulbrandsen, 2013. "Scoping paper: Developing University Innovation Capacity: How can innovation policy effectively harness universities’ capability to promote high-growth technology businesses?," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20131007, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tik:inowpp:20131007

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