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Origins and Outcomes

Origins and Outcomes: The roles of spinoff founders and intellectual property in high technology venture outcomes

AMD 3:1 - 10.5465/amd.2014.0138

by Jennifer L. Woolley 

Spinoff firms originate from several sources including universities, existing firms, and government research centers. Thus far, work on spinoff activity has focused on factors that influence the creation and performance of corporate spinoffs, with recent attention turning to those from universities. Spinoffs from government laboratories and research centers have largely been overlooked. Additionally, little work has compared the outcomes of different spinoff types. Using a database of all nanotechnology firms founded between 1981 and 2002, this study examines academic, corporate and government spinoffs as well as other start-ups across five outcomes including firm cessation, acquisition, liquidation, bankruptcy, venture capital and government small business innovation funding. The data show that lineage, both in terms of intellectual property and founder background, does influence outcomes; however, each type of firm origin has provocative distinctions. These findings unpack the categorization of spinoffs firms to clarify the role of early knowledge transfer mechanisms and initial resource portfolios of firms. Implications for the study of microfoundations of entrepreneurship are discussed.

Keywords: Technology origins, academic entrepreneurship, spinoffs, university-industry links, intellectual property transfer, acquisition, firm survival, government R&D, entrepreneurship

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