How Much Does the External CEO Matter in University Spin-Off?

How Much Does the External CEO Matter in University Spin-Off?

Anna Szopa (Jagiellonian University, Poland) and Tadeusz Marek (Jagiellonian University, Poland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4530-1.ch002
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Abstract

Deficiency of business understanding and experience, strong industry competition, and small firm fragility are some of the most often cited arguments that justify business failure. This chapter presents the impact that top management can have on the development of new firms. The findings are based on case studies consisting out of three firms spun off from the University of Maryland and the University of Central Florida. The source data is gathered from observations, semi-structured interviews, commercial databases, as well as publicly available data. The results show that external Chair Executive Officers (CEO) positively influence the process of creation and management of university spin-offs.
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Managing University Spin-Off Companies

University spin-off companies are considered to be: “One of the most effective ways to contribute to the renewal of the industry while exploiting academia-developed technology” (Powers, McDougall, 2005). University spin-offs are the principal mechanism for knowledge and technology transfer within the research and development centers (Bercovitz & Feldmann, 2006). These modern business enterprises are initiated by faculty, students, graduates and other staff to the commercial exploitation of ideas and technologies. Accelerate the process of commercialization of research through combining market mechanisms and resources of higher education and implement innovative solutions (Tamowicz, 2006). The role of university spin-off in knowledge and technology transfer is presented in Picture 1.

Figure 1.

The role of university spin-off in knowledge and technology transfer (Adapted from [Mirabent, et al. 2012])

Roberts and Malone (1996) identify four principal fundamentals of university spin-offs:

  • 1.

    Technology originator that develops technology.

  • 2.

    Parent organization where researches are conducted by the technology originator.

  • 3.

    Entrepreneur who efforts to create and manage a new business venture.

  • 4.

    Investor who provides financial support.

It is essential to emphasize university spin-offs’ specific characteristics, in reference to the life cycle. Besides the four phases of firms’ development:

  • 1.

    Seed sowing stage-stage.

  • 2.

    Expansion stage.

  • 3.

    Maturity stage.

  • 4.

    Decline stage.

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