The creation of academic spin-offs has received great attention in innovation policy for the last couple of years. Throughout Europe policy programmes have been introduced to stimulate entrepreneurial activities of academic persons. Academic spin-offs are assigned to be highly innovative, and thus help to strengthen a regions or even a countries innovative ability, improve competitiveness and finally foster economic growth. The prevalent view is that spin-offs are mostly established directly after leaving the academic institution. However a survey of around 20:000 newly founded firms carried out in Germany in 2001, which is also the data base for the following paper, revealed that 50 percent of all German academic spin-offs founded between 1996 and 2001 were established 4 years or more after the founder left his academic institution. Despite this time-lag all spin-offs contributed to technology and knowledge transfer. The contribution could be inferred by the method academic spin-offs were identified. This fact is not surprising, but rather new as the possibility of "late" founding was known but mostly ignored in the spin-offs literature. This paper focuses on the contribution of the existence of complementarities in skills and the intensity of technology and knowledge transfer, to the time which elapses after the founder has left the academic institution. The results of a duration analysis made in this paper suggest that spin-offs with a higher intensity of knowledge transfer are established closer to the time directly after leaving university. Furthermore, spin-offs which are founded in teams have significantly shorter time-lags than those established by a single founder. Additionally, foundation is accelerated if the founder(s) studied certain combinations of academic subjects rather than a single subject. This supports the presumption that in order to establish a firm a broad spectrum of complementary skills is necessary which can either be obtained by market and business experience of a single founder or by forming a team.

Schopen, Kathrin (2008), University Spin-Off’s Transfer Speed – Analyzing the Time from Leaving University to Venture, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 08-034, Mannheim, published in: Research Policy. Download

Keywords

academic spin-offs, technology transfer, skill complementarities