Structural Capital of University Spin-Out Firms: The Moderating Role of University Incubators

Nola Hewitt-Dundas, Colm Burns

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


University incubators (UI) are generally believed to be important in the successful commercialisation of university spin-outs (USO) with over half of all UK Universities having established an on-campus UI. In this chapter we examine the value of UIs in the spin-out process, focusing on the structural networks of USOs located in a UI as compared to USOs in a University with no access to a UI. Our primary research question is therefore: to what extent does the structural network of USOs with access to an on-campus UI differ from USOs without? The research therefore con-tributes to a growing critique of the effectiveness of UIs in commercialis-ing academic research and the recognition of positive direct and indirect externalities from participation in networks. Through network mapping of all USOs from two research intensive universities, we profile and ana-lyse the formal and informal network ties of USOs to various partners in-ternal and external to the host university. Through interviews we also consider how these networks enhance the resources and capabilities of USOs. Our findings highlight significant differences, with USOs located in a UI having more informal but fewer formal ties, both to other USOs as well as within the host University. In contrast, location in an incuba-tor was not found to affect the extent and nature of ties with external or-ganisations. Reasons for these differences are examined through inter-views with the USOs and point to various factors including the proactive brokering role of incubator and university staff, university bureaucracy, the hidden networks of executive board members across USOs, university equity investment policy and complementary technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUniversity Evolution, Entrepreneurial Activity and Regional Competitiveness
EditorsDavid B Audretsch, Erik E Lehmann, Michele Meoli, Silvio Vismara
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)ISBN 978-3-319-17713-7
ISBN (Print)ISBN 978-3-319-17712-0
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameInternational Studies in Entrepreneurship


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