Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate contingency factors on the emergence of university spin‐off firms. The institutional and organisational factors the paper explores comprise the transfer potential of the university, the strategy and characteristics of the University Technology Transfer Organisations and specific support for spin‐off formation. Design/methodology/approach – Based on a unique data set, this cross‐sectional study analyses the population of 54 higher education institutions in Germany. At this, 31.4 per cent of the German universities with technology transfer activities participated in this study. Findings – The research identifies a high degree of heterogeneity in the qualification of University Technology Transfer Offices (UTTO) staff and the existence of an entrepreneurship support programme as important antecedents of spin‐off formation. In addition, the results reveal that pursuing different or multiple transfer strategies will not be detrimental to the establishment of spin‐offs. Practical implications – It seems that there is still a lack of consensus with respect to the importance of spin‐offs as an effective channel to transform research results into economic value. Furthermore, universities aiming at the promotion of spin‐offs need appropriate regulations which do not jeopardise the usage of research outcomes for entrepreneurial purposes. Originality/value – This study contributes to enhance the knowledge on what promotes and inhibits the formation of university spin‐off firms, as it first analyses a considerable population of UTTOs in Germany and explicitly considers underexplored and new contingency factors.
Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 14, 2014
Keywords: Germany; Universities; Academic entrepreneurship; Spin‐off firms; Technology transfer offices
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