نوع شناسی دانش محور "پشتیبانی شرکت مادر" (اسپین آف) دانشگاه در زمینه توسعه اقتصادی منطقه ای
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|6968||2010||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||13763 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technovation, Volume 30, Issues 9–10, September–October 2010, Pages 519–532
Drawing on the literature pertaining to the role universities play in promoting technology transfer, this paper develops an insightful conceptualization of spin-off processes, and applies it to a current regional case study. The suggested typology of university spin-off/start-up firms is based on several variables, including the type of university sponsorship, university involvement in firm formation, the character of knowledge applied, and co-localization of the founders. The empirical case study is used to demonstrate the usefulness of this approach in analyzing spin-off firms, and their dynamics. The study is based on interviews conducted with university spin-offs/start-ups in the information technology (IT) sector located in the Kitchener and Guelph metropolitan areas. This region, which is home to the University of Waterloo – one of Canada’s premier science and technology universities – has experienced an impetus of spin-off processes originating from university research dating back to the 1970s. The results of our analysis expose several trends: Sponsored spin-offs are largely the result of particular university research projects, and apply specific knowledge inputs in the development of their initial core technology. Unsponsored spin-offs, which find their foundation in decentralized idea development outside of the university setting, almost entirely rely on generic broad knowledge bases for the development of innovative products and services, which have enabled the firm-formation process. Overall, it is surprising that even firms that have received some form of university support described the role the University of Waterloo had in their start-up process as marginal. The dynamic research approach applied in this study, which outlines the university’s changing role over time and the regional dynamics associated with spin-off firms, further demonstrates the potential of our typology. As such, our typology of university-related start-up/spin-off firms is designed to support studies concerned with the wider impact of universities on technology transfer and regional development.
In the social science literature, the advantages knowledge-based, technology-intensive firms can accrue from being in close proximity to a university have been widely recognized (Nelson, 1959 and Arrow, 1962). It is believed that high-tech ventures derive significant benefits from localized knowledge spillovers emanating from the two common tasks performed by universities; i.e., basic research and human capital creation (Audretsch and Lehmann, 2005). While these knowledge inputs are appealing to firms, access to these inputs appears to depend on the spatial proximity to a particular university (Fujita and Thisse, 1996 and Fischer and Varga, 2003). It was not until the late 1960s, when new information technology (IT) industries emerged, that scholars began to scrutinize the technology transfer mechanisms that led to the direct commercialization of university research through firm formation (Landström, 2005). The seminal works of Roberts (1968), who examined spin-off processes from MIT along Boston’s Route 128, and Cooper (1971), who studied spin-off phenomena in Silicon Valley, are especially notable in this regard. It was the institutional and structural change that began in the 1980s (such as the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act in the US) and increased labor mobility, along with a shift towards more flexible modes of production and venture capital financing, that propelled research efforts concerning university entrepreneurship and technology-based growth (see Rothaermel et al., 2007). University spin-off firms, also commonly called ‘university spin-outs’ or ‘research related start-up ventures’, are acknowledged in the literature as one of the key drivers of economic change and growth (Bercovitz and Feldman, 2006). Originally a phenomenon thought to be specific to North America, today most advanced national economies strive to generate economic wealth by exploiting and diffusing public research by means of university spin-offs (Clarysse et al., 2005). In many cases, however, such endeavors have had limited success (Callan, 2001). Surprisingly, much of the social science literature does not provide a clear-cut definition of the actual university spin-off phenomenon, despite a rapidly growing number of empirical and theoretical studies that span across multiple disciplines (Pirnay et al., 2003). As a consequence, the term ‘university spin-off’ frequently remains a vaguely defined concept, notwithstanding the apparent impact of such firms on the development of high-tech industries (Steffensen et al., 2000). Mustar et al. (2006: 290) conclude in their review that there is “an important gap in our comprehensive understanding of the diversity of RRSOs” (research-based spin-offs). It appears that this lack of clarity is related to the inherent heterogeneous nature of university spin-off processes, combined with the plurality of research methods applied to study them. This not only poses problems in comparing empirical studies, as researchers potentially present different realities under a common heading, but more importantly, it also obscures our understanding of the underlying processes that drive regional innovation, which, in turn, limits the policy relevance of this type of research (Mustar et al., 2006). Furthermore, spatial considerations, beyond the actual co-location of spin-off ventures and universities, in most cases are not incorporated into the research design, despite the widespread agreement that university spin-off processes support, and sometimes essentially influence, regional economic growth. In our view, it is not desirable to construct a restrictive definition of university spin-off firms by reducing the group of actors and institutions included in the research framework, as this may eliminate important interactive processes that were stimulated or shaped by local universities from the analysis. Instead, the development of a multi-faceted typology of university spin-off firms, which takes into account the heterogeneous nature of such ventures and the spatial context in which they occur, is, in our perspective, a fruitful approach to elucidating and streamlining the complex findings found in the literature, and their diverse theoretical and empirical foundations (see, especially, Pirnay et al., 2003). Drawing on the literature pertaining to the role universities play in promoting technology transfer, this paper aims to develop a spin-off typology that emphasizes a knowledge perspective, and links the spin-off phenomenon to regional development in a dynamic perspective. In particular, the objective of this paper is to discuss and define the university spin-off phenomenon in a regional context, and to suggest a taxonomy of spin-offs/start-ups based on several variables, including the type of university sponsorship, university involvement in firm formation, the type of university knowledge applied, and co-localization of the founders. We use the empirical findings from a recent regional case study to demonstrate the usefulness of this approach in classifying university-related start-ups/spin-offs; the genesis of these firms is of particular interest to this research. The start-up configuration is expected to be an indicator of future development prospects in terms of growth trajectories, and the potential wider regional economic impact these firms will project. Through the analysis of these varying configurations, we intend to find predictive patterns, which subsequently allow for the development of efficient policy programs. The empirical evidence utilized in our study is derived from 18 semi-structured interviews that were conducted in 2007 and 2008 with university spin-off/start-up firms located in the Kitchener and Guelph metropolitan areas, about 100 km west of Toronto, Canada. In media reports, these municipalities are often referred to as the Waterloo region, in part because of the role of the University of Waterloo as a regional driver of technologies, provider of high-quality technical skills, and generator of start-up firms. This region was chosen as a case study for our research, because it has experienced an impetus of spin-off processes originating from university research since the 1970s, which is unusual in the context of Canadian universities, and has subsequently been widely publicized. Similar to the findings of Mustar et al. (2006), that research-based spin-offs have become an important aspect of the technology transfer process, it is often suggested that regional growth and modernization in the Kitchener and Guelph metropolitan areas have been triggered by IT-related university spin-off activities (e.g. Bramwell et al., 2008). In particular, based on the activities of the University of Waterloo, numerous IT firms, such as Dalsa, Open Text, Research in Motion (RIM), Sybase, and Waterloo Maple, have been successfully launched. They have established a growing technology base in the region (Bathelt and Hecht, 1990, Bathelt, 1991, Parker, 2001 and Bramwell et al., 2008), which has led us to focus specifically on the role of IT spin-offs in the present research. While we are interested in how the university spin-off firms in our sample fit into the various categories developed in our typology, and whether the categories allow us to draw conclusions regarding the firms’ collective development potential, particular attention will be given to the university’s role at the time of firm formation and how this has changed over time. Our paper is thus structured as follows: In Section 2 we review some of the existing literature concerning university spin-off firms, with a focus on many of the critical issues identified in this stream of research. Based on these findings, we propose a typology of university spin-offs and university-related start-ups, which forms the foundation for our empirical investigation. Section 3 discusses the research approach and methodology applied, and in Section 4, we examine IT-based university-related start-ups/spin-offs in the Kitchener and Guelph metropolitan areas through the lens of our proposed typology. Section 5 summarizes the main findings and draws conclusions.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study set out with the goal of responding to the need to develop a wider practical typology of university spin-offs/start-ups that first emphasizes the role of knowledge linkages, second provides a regional analysis, and third adopts a dynamic perspective. The proposed taxonomy of university spin-off/start-up firms, which was subsequently tested in our regional case study, is effective in scrutinizing the different roles a local university plays in supporting firm formation processes of various types of new ventures, and how they progress over time. It allows us to evaluate the wider regional impact of university-related start-up and spin-off phenomena by, for instance, developing scenarios regarding the growth potential of these firms. The case study conducted has been quite informative for two reasons: On the one hand, it has illustrated the usefulness of our typology and demonstrated how it can be fruitfully applied in a regional context. On the other hand, this case has enabled us to investigate the role of university spin-offs/start-ups in regional growth and modernization processes, and to some degree ‘de-mystify’ the role the University of Waterloo has played in the Kitchener and Guelph metropolitan areas. The University of Waterloo is clearly a significant local source for innovation within this region, but only played a role in the formation process of about half of the firms interviewed. Eight of the 18 firms can be classified as unsponsored, decentralized start-ups, which did not derive their technological competence from specialized university research or university–industry joint ventures. The remaining 10 firms in the sample received, or utilized, at least some level of inputs or resources from the University of Waterloo that were, to a varying degree, important in the processes of establishing the business. Interestingly, a number of firms, which originally spun off from university-generated research, had relatively little input or stimulus from the university later on. At the same time, some unsponsored decentralized ventures considered the university as a vital element in their development, despite not having received support at the time the firm was established. The typology of spin-offs/start-ups put forward (Table 1 and Table 2) and the subsequent categorization of our sample firms (Table 4) clearly illustrate several important trends: First, sponsored spin-offs are the result of particular university research activities. They apply specific knowledge inputs in the development of their initial core technology. Second, unsponsored spin-offs that have their foundation in decentralized idea development outside the university setting strongly rely on broad generic knowledge in the development of innovative products. Overall, it is surprising that even the firms that received some kind of direct university support described the role of the university as relatively limited. Our survey also shows that once there were multiple firm founders, they were usually co-localized in the region, regardless of what type of knowledge was utilized. It would be difficult to make predictions regarding the growth potential of the individual university spin-off/start-up firms, as the firms vary significantly in age, level of specialization, and the resulting prospective market size. Interestingly, however, the non-co-localized spin-off type, which has a great potential to achieve wider market legitimacy in the start-up stage, occurred only as an exception in our sample population. Nevertheless, the vibrant merger and acquisition activities that have become apparent in this research indicate that many of the ventures have the capacity to attract the interest of other regional, national, or international firms, and, through this, stimulated growth in the regional IT sector. Employment levels and growth performance related to the spin-off process have, however, remained modest in many firms. Therefore, it seems premature to over-emphasize regional economic successes, and celebrate the development of a “post-industrial Waterloo” related to university-driven ventures (Perry, 2009). A narrow definition of spin-offs, which would focus on firms that are the result of direct university funding and specialized university research, would deem the suggested typology of ventures unnecessary. However, there are several arguments as to why our revised typology of university spin-off/start-up firms is particularly useful. Above all, unsponsored spin-offs based on decentralized idea development represent a significant portion of start-up businesses (almost half of all firms), and are unlikely to exist without the university. They benefit from regional research capacities and the advanced education of their technical staff in the generation of innovative products. Overlooking this group of university-related start-ups and their association with the university would eliminate a significant segment of high-tech ventures from the analysis. Considering that it is the collective of high-tech firms, which are commonly acknowledged in the literature as the key drivers of economic change and growth, all suggested categories of spin-offs/start-ups need to be included in a study that investigates the regional economic impact of a university. Firms that fall into the category of having modest or weak university involvement in their start-up process can provide important insights into a local university’s competencies in research and teaching, and how these benefit the local economy, rather than solely emphasizing and evaluating its ability to transfer technology and initiate firm formation processes in a linear mode through university research projects.