The start-up processes of academic spin-offs and non-academic ventures

Abstract: New and small firms are important for the national economic growth, and hence there is a growing interest among policy makers and researchers in understanding the start-up processes among new ventures in order to facilitate more new venture creations. Prior research addressing new ventures' start-up processes focus mainly on the individual behind the venture or different activities in the start-up process. The overall purpose of this study is to increase the understanding of new venture start- up processes, particularly by comparing academic spin-offs and non-academic ventures. This purpose includes giving a holistic picture of the start-up processes, and therefore my study addresses the individual entrepreneur, the new venture and the activities undertaken during the start-up process. To meet the overall purpose, six case studies have been conducted, where three founders of new ventures in each type of venture has been interviewed and complementary secondary data has been collected. The findings imply that the start-up process differs between academic spin-offs and non-academic ventures, mainly due to their origin. In addition, three factors have influenced the start-up process and the outcome of it. First, the entrepreneur(s) affect(s) the idea formulation, the business concept and the recognized opportunity. Second, the venture's business concept affects what activities the new venture has to undertake in order to get a successful start-up. Third, the venture's entry strategy also affects what activities have to be undertaken in order to reach the targeted market and to get competitive advantages over existing companies. Similarly, the start- up process itself can cause changes in the business concept as well as in the venture's entry strategy. Moreover, the findings also imply that academic spin-offs have a more complex start-up process than non-academic ventures. This complexity might be due to the academic spin-offs' more significant dependency on external resources, which they got access to through cooperation and networking and by early establishing a professional board of directors. The non-academic ventures could to a larger extent manage their start-up process by relying on their own resources and competencies. Consequently, there is a need to distinguish between academic spin-offs' and non-academic ventures' start-up processes in order to facilitate a more effective creation of new ventures and thereby economic growth in a region or a nation.

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