How innovative are spin-offs at later stages of development?
Comparing innovativeness of established research spin-offs
and otherwise created ﬁrms
Accepted: 15 November 2013 / Published online: 10 January 2014
Ó Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014
Abstract The literature argues that research spin-
offs (RSOs)—enterprises originating from a univer-
sity or research institute—appear to have higher
innovative potential and capabilities than other start-
ups, at least in the early stages of their development.
Yet, little is known about the innovative performance
of these companies at later development phases. Thus,
the main goal of this study is to investigate whether
there are any differences in research and development
(R&D) and innovation behavior between established
and/or mature RSOs and otherwise created ﬁrms and,
if so, to what extent they are driven by networking and
cooperation activities as suggested by some scholars.
To this end, we employ probit regression analysis and
a matching approach using survey data on more than
6,000 East German ﬁrms, among which are 179 RSOs.
Our ﬁrst ﬁndings suggest that established RSOs
engage in R&D and innovation activities more
frequently than companies whose genesis was of
another type. Nevertheless, the results obtained when
accounting for collaboration measures show that the
precedence of RSOs in further development stages
over otherwise created ﬁrms in terms of innovation
outputs is related to their higher intensity of cooper-
ation activity and close, face-to-face interactions with
universities, and not to type of ﬁrm creation.
Moreover, our ﬁndings reveal that cooperating in
various ﬁelds may be of different importance for
speciﬁc inputs and outputs of the innovation activity.
Finally, based on our results, we draw some implica-
tions for both practicing managers and public
Keywords Spin-offs Á R&D Á Innovation Á
JEL classiﬁcations O30 Á M20 Á L20
Research on spin-off enterprises and their unique role
in the economy is a fast-growing ﬁeld (Rothaermel
et al. 2007). In addition to licensing, collaboration,
and consultancy, spinning off a venture from a
research institution is an excellent means of commer-
cializing scientiﬁc results. Even though many spin-
offs are not signiﬁcant creators of employment (Callan
2001; Cardozo and Engleman 2004; Mustar 1997,
2001; Geroski et al. 1997), scholars argue that these
ﬁrms contribute signiﬁcantly to economic and social
welfare due to their important share in national and/or
regional innovation systems (Cooke et al. 1997; Helm
and Mauroner 2007; Mustar et al. 2008).
In fact, research spin-offs (RSOs) have a running
head-start in knowledge/technology transfer, seeing
A. Lejpras (&)
BSP Business School Berlin Potsdam,
Calandrellistraße 1-9, 12247 Berlin, Germany
Small Bus Econ (2014) 43:327–351