Project Management in IT Type University Spin-Offs

Project Management in IT Type University Spin-Offs

Anna Szopa (Jagiellonian University, Poland) and Beata Jałocha (Jagiellonian University, Poland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4753-4.ch008
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Poor project management in IT companies, strong industry competition, and small firm fragility are some of the most often cited arguments to justify business failure. This chapter provides an integrated view of concepts involved in information technology project management in university spin-off companies. It includes a presentation of a success story of an IT university spin-off, which from the very beginning of its activity focused mainly on project management processes. The chapter explains how university spin-off organizational structure influences the project management process and discusses important methods and approaches that can determine IT spin-off successes.
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University Spin-Off Companies

The technology and knowledge are transferred from the research organizations to the industrial adopters, just before the process of commercial application of academic research. University spin-offs are a perfect tool for technology transfer. The university spin-off process is initiated inside the university which creates and facilitates the spin-off process, both formally and informally. However it is necessary to underline that university spin-offs find their parallel in the corporate entrepreneurship concept (Sharma, Chrisman, 1999). This feature follows the logic of Bjørnåli, Gulbrandsen (2009) who describe spin-off as a new business initiative within already existing company or organization, started by an employee or a relative small group. They underline that spin-off company becomes independent with its own feasibility in terms of legal, technical and commercial structure, and refers to the separation from the parent unit to a new activity created for the commercial exploitation of resources.

The process of transformation is complex and sometimes possess challenges for both the spin-off project and the context which it operates; the clash of scientific and industrial culture often leads to difficulties and sometimes to failure of the new venture (Samsom, Gurdon, 1993). Vohora et al. (2004) claim that “without developing or accessing the capability to combine scientific knowledge with a commercially feasible offering that satisfies an unfulfilled market need, academic scientists would not be able to proceed towards commercializing their technologies” (p. 149). In reference to intellectual property university spin-offs are defined as “a company founded to exploit a piece of intellectual property created in an academic institution” (Shane, 2004, pp.25).

University spin-off companies are initiated by faculty, students, graduates and other staff who either leave university to start company, or create company while is still inside the university (Rappert, 1999). The university spin-off ventures are established to exploit new research results, in which new information and new technology plays an important role; accelerate the process of commercialization of research, combine market mechanisms and resources of higher education and accelerate the implementation of innovative solutions (Ramusen, 2006).

University spin-off companies are a particular expression of academic entrepreneurship. They are the primary mechanism for knowledge and technology transfer within the research and development projects, and can be supported by government and private funds (Bercovitz, Feldmann, 2006).

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