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Exploring the Role(s) of Researcher-Based Projects in Swedish University Incubators

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Linus Brunnström
Guido Buenstorf
Maureen McKelvey
Publicerad i in Guclu Atinc (Ed.), Proceedings of the Eightieth Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
Publiceringsår 2020
Publicerad vid Institutionen för ekonomi och samhälle, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE)
Språk en
Ämnesord incubators, universities, Sweden, researchers
Ämneskategorier Ekonomi och näringsliv


University incubators are an important part of how universities interact with society (Perkmann et al., 2013; Perkmann et al., 2019). In recent years, they have expanded their role. Beyond supporting academic entrepreneurship, they host and work with a variety of projects initiated by university employees other than researchers (Lindholm-Dahlstrand & Politis, 2013), students (Culkin, 2013), and even individuals without prior ties to the university. The effects of this diversity in terms of founder types have not yet been investigated in an incubator setting. In this paper, we investigate how founder, project and incubator characteristics relate to the likelihood of different types of projects to become knowledge-intensive entrepreneurial firms that have the potential to bring transforming innovations into the market (Malerba & McKelvey, 2018). Specifically, using a Swedish national dataset covering 37 incubators and a total of 3,383 projects over a ten-year period and applying competing risk models, we analyze the probability of different types of projects to either complete incubation or fail, i.e. exit from the incubator without having “graduated” into a viable firm. Little research exists on the composition of founder backgrounds in university incubators. Prior studies have compared matched samples of incubated and non-incubated firms (Lasrado et al., 2015), or assessed the performance of university incubators relative to that of private ones (Ratinho et al., 2010; Rosenwein, 2000). The roles of university ties (Lasrado et al., 2015; Rothaermel & Thursby, 2005) and networking within single incubators (McAdam & Marlow, 2008) have also been explored. Our paper adds to the literature by providing further insight into how university incubators function, and by analyzing the development of projects with diverse founder backgrounds across a large number of university incubators. We are particularly interested in differences between researchers versus other types of project founders and their projects’ respective likelihood of successfully completing incubation. We further analyze the role of incubator characteristics such as the breadth of admitted projects and incubator experience. We find that projects initiated by researchers have a lower hazard to complete incubation than other founders, but that they seem to create spillover effects on all other projects. Focusing on smaller numbers of project types in terms of founder backgrounds appears to be beneficial

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