Theres a rush to start universities on the road to fostering innovation and commercialisation. This is odd given that we, like every country, have an existing plethora of support already. The paper below suggests that the effect of university support may be very mixed and in fact may simply substitute support not add to it. So, no, not A Good Thing
tha abstract :
In this paper, we analyze the extent to which University-Level Support Mechanisms (ULSMs) and Local-Context Support Mechanisms (LCSMs) complement or substitute for each other in fostering the creation of academic spin-offs. Using a sample of 404 companies spun off from the 64 Italian Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics universities (STEM universities) over the 2000-2007 period, we show that the ULSMs’ marginal effect on universities\’ spin-off productivity may be positive or negative depending on the contribution offered by different LCSMs. Specifically, in any given region, ULSMs complement the legislative support offered to high-tech entrepreneurship whereas they have a substitution effect with regard to the amount of regional social capital, regional financial development, the presence of a regional business incubator, regional public R&D expenses as well as the level of innovative performance in the region. Results support the idea that regional settings’ idiosyncrasies should be considered for universities to develop effective spin-off support policies. This paper contributes to the debate on the evaluation of economic policies supporting entrepreneurship.
and an intersting takeaway from the conclusions ; given that we have already quite a well developed social structure, good financial conditions (really, in a global sense, we do), lots of existing incubators, and government support for R&D…
the marginal effect of ULSMs on spin-off productivity (and this finding holds for all of the different ULSMs taken into account in our analysis) decreases in contexts where the social capital index, the regional financial development index, the presence of a regional incubator, the government R&D expenses in the region, and the regional innovativeness index all have a positive marginal contribution to spin-off productivity (substitution effect). In these contexts, universities would be better off not pursuing incremental investments in ULSMs.