Founding team composition and early performance of university—Based spin-off companies
October 20, 2013 Editor 0
Publication date: Available online 17 October 2013Source:Technovation
Author(s): Francesca Visintin , Daniel Pittino
The start-up of business ventures (university spin-offs—USOs) is an important channel that universities can use to transfer the results of public research to the economic system. Several empirical investigations however show that the majority of public-research spin-offs perform rather poorly (see for example Mustar et al., 2008. Science and Public Policy 35(2), 67–80). Therefore, identifying and analysing the obstacles that limit the success of this type of high-tech start-ups appears extremely important to better understand and, where possible, leverage their potential contributions in terms of innovation and growth. The existing literature on the performance of USOs studies these companies as any other high-tech start up, overlooking the peculiarities related to the presence of academic personnel in the entrepreneurial/management team. The aim of this paper is to fill this gap by analysing the relationship between founding teams and USO performance through a multi-level approach to the team demography. In particular, we try to account for some of the peculiar features which may shape the functioning of USO founding teams and arise mostly from the need to properly balance the scientific and commercial orientation with one another. The empirical analysis, carried out on a sample of 103 Italian USOs, shows that founding teams with a composition that promotes simultaneously differentiation and integration of academic and non-academic profiles, exhibit superior levels of performance in terms of growth.
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