A Framework for Longitudinal Analysis of University Spin-Offs

A Framework for Longitudinal Analysis of University Spin-Offs

Fernando Almeida (INESC TEC, Faculty of Engineering, Oporto University, Portugal) and Eugénio Cunha (INESC TEC, Faculty of Engineering, Oporto University, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5412-7.ch001


The creation of university spin-offs plays a fundamental role in the technology transfer process between universities and the business field. Universities have developed for themselves internal processes within their technology transfer offices in order to collect this information. However, this data is only available locally and often outdated. Furthermore, the number of frameworks that allow the study and simultaneously access to this data in an integrated way is still small on a global scale, and in Portugal, there isn't a repository which contains this information. This study proposes the establishment of a framework for longitudinal analysis that could identify and characterize the evolution and performance of Portuguese university spin-offs. The repository is built exclusively in open source technologies and offers the potential to characterize and analyze the evolution and performance of university spin-offs in different perspectives, such as individual factors; organizational factors; institutional factors; and scientific, educational, and commercial outputs.
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Today's most advanced economies are based on the greatest availability of knowledge. The competitiveness of the society, people or companies is based on their ability to access to knowledge, in order to meet the challenges of contemporary society. In this new paradigm, universities perform a central role, because they are important producers of new knowledge that have direct and indirect impact in the educational formation of society and competitiveness of companies.

At the same time, frequently, the knowledge created within universities will have a commercial application and a commercial value which can be exploited through commercialization activities (Perkmann et al., 2013). Nevertheless, only fairly recently universities have serious invested in expanding to this new role. Universities have been playing a critical role in society because alongside their traditional roles as training and research institutions, they also help to foster economic and social development. But this economic role has been primarily a function of their first two roles – the training and education of students and the generation of new knowledge. The Universities that in many parts of the world have started to invest in the creation of internal mechanisms aimed at supporting academic entrepreneurship in its different forms (Fryges & Wright, 2014) have witnessed that these internal, university-level mechanisms and policies have contributed significantly to the professionalization of activities that encourage the exploitation of research results (Baldini et al., 2014). In addition to the traditional mandates of teaching and research, knowledge transfer has become a third mission in which academic institutions engage.

In general, the concept of the third mission encapsulates many of the rising demands of the university to take a more visible role in stimulating and guiding the utilization of knowledge for social, cultural and economic development (Carot et al., 2012). In order to embrace the third mission, universities needs to readapt and reorganize in order to perform new activities, such as IPR and patenting, licensing, carry out entrepreneurship training, internal incubation, support spin-off creation and help them in the market (Reichenfeld, 2010).

In this paper, we propose the establishment of a framework for longitudinal analysis of University spin-offs in order to facilitate the mission of knowledge transfer offices that, could they easily identify and characterize the evolution and performance of university spin-offs along several years of analysis. This is the first repository for longitudinal analysis of university spin-offs in Portugal that offers great potential to characterize, discuss and mitigate open issues in literature related to several dimensions of spin-offs analysis. Furthermore, the repository is exclusively built on open source technologies, can be accessed by Web and mobile devices and offers interactive features that let users easily understand the main events and occurrences associated with each university spin-off. The paper is organized as follows: First, we clarify the adopted concept of spin-off and we perform a revision of literature in university spin-offs by highlighting the contribution made by the main results on this subject. Then, we present a list of similar initiatives conducted by other universities and R&D institutions. Subsequently, we present the approach adopted in the development of this project. After that, we discuss the contributions made by our project. Finally, we draw the conclusion of our work.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Application Programming Interface (API): Routines developed to allow two software programs to communicate with each other.

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA): Financial indicator that represents how much a company generates of resources through its operational activities.

Big Data: Very large sets of data that can only be stored, used, and analyzed with the help of technological tools and methods.

Return on Equity (ROE): Represents the amount of net income returned as a percentage of shareholders equity.

Return on Capital Employed (ROCE): Financial ratio that measures a company’s profitability and the efficiency with which its capital is employed.

Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs): Technology transfer center or unit offered by a higher education institution that is established to facilitate the commercialization of the university’s scientific and technical research findings for the benefit of the community.

JavaScript: Client-side programming language. It is used to control HTML and CSS, in order to implement dynamic behaviors on the page.

User Interface: Represents the user interaction layer, that is, everything that is visually perceptible on some platform and leads the user to a positive interaction.

Return on Assets (ROA): An indicator that measures how profitable a company is relative to its total assets.

Cascade Style Sheets (CSS): Language used to define the presentation of web pages built with markup language, such as hypertext markup language (HTML).

Comma-Separated Values (CSV): Comma separated values file which allows data to be saved in a table structured format.

PHP: Programming language widely used for Web development that can be embedded within HTML.

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