The Sources of Competitive Advantage in University Spin-Offs: a Case Study

Marco Greco, Michele Grimaldi, Laura Scarabotti, Massimiliano Maria Schiraldi


University Spin-Offs are incorporated to exploit the knowledge and skills achieved within Universities. Often, their competitive advantage is represented by specific know-how that may be hardly imitated by competitors. In this article we present an analysis of the intellectual capital assets owned by a University Spin-Off using a framework recently introduced in literature. The framework resorts to a series of structured interviews to key figures within the organization. The interviews are synthesized through the Analytic Network Process and the results are compared using graphical and cost/ benefit analyses. The implementation of the framework creates a useful panel for the planning of investments in intellectual capital assets in order to create value. Moreover, it may emphasize possible discrepancies among interviewees about the importance of each intellectual capital asset.


University Spin-Off; Academic Spin-Off competitive advantage; analytic network process; value drivers; intellectual capital assets; operations management; strategic framework

Full Text:

PDF [en]


ABRAMO, G., D’Angelo, C., Ferretti, M., Parmentola, A. (2012). An individual-level assessment of the relationship between spin-off activities and research performance in universities. R&D Management, 42(3), p. 225-242.

ALBERGHINI, E., Cricelli, L., Grimaldi, M. (2013). KM versus enterprise 2.0: a framework to tame the clash. International Journal of Information Technology and Management, 12(3/4), 320-336.

ANDRIESSEN, D. (2004). IC valuation and measurement: classifying the state of the art. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 5(2), 230-242.

ANDRIKOPOULOS, A. (2009). Accounting for intellectual capital: on the elusive path from theory to practice. Knowledge and Process Management, 12(3), 217-224.

BARNEY, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1), 99-120.

BATTISTA, C., Fumi, A., Schiraldi, M. (2012). The logistic maturity model: guidelines for logistic processes continuous improvement. Proceedings of the POMS 23rd Annual Conference. Chicago, Illinois, USA.

BATTISTA, C., Fumi, A., Laura, L., Schiraldi, M. (forth.). Multiproduct slot allocation heuristic to minimize storage space. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, forthcoming.

BATTISTONI, E., Fronzetti Colladon, A., Scarabotti, L., Schiraldi, M. (2013). Analytical Hierarchy Process for New Product Development. International Journal of Engineering Business Management, forthcoming.

BERCOVITZ, J., Feldman, M. P. (2006). Entpreprenerial Universities and Technology Transfer: A Conceptual Framework for Understanding Knowledge-Based Economic Development. Journal of Technology Transfer, 31(1), 175-188.

BERNHUT, S. (2001). Measuring the value of intellectual capital. Ivey Business Journal, 65(5), 16-20.

BONTIS, N. (1998). Intellectual capital: an exploratory study that develops measures and models. Management Decision, 36(2), 63-76.

BORGES, C., Filion, L. J. (2013). Spin-off process and the development of academic entrepreneur’s social capital. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 8(1), 21-34.

BRAY, M., Lee, J. (2000). University revenues from technology transfer: licensing fees vs.equity positions. Journal of Business Venturing, 15(5), 385-392.

BREGNI, A., D’Avino, M., De Simone, V., Schiraldi, M. (2013, April). Formulas of revised MRP. International Journal of Engineering Business Management.

BRUSH, C., Greene, P., Hart, M. (2001). From initial idea to unique advantage: The entrepreneurial challenge of constructing a resource base. Academy of Management Executive, 15(1), 64-78.

CANTNER, U., Goethner, M., Stuetzer, M. (2010). Disentangling the effects of new venture Team Functional Heterogeneity on New Venture Performance. Jena Economics Research Paper.

CHANDRA, A., Silva, M. (2012). Business incubation in Chile: Development, financing and financial services. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 7(2), 1-13.

CHEN, J., Zhu, Z., Xie, H. (2004). Measuring intellectual capital: a new model and empirical study. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 5(1), 195-212.

COLOMBO, M. G., Piva, E. (2008). trengths and weaknesses of academic start-ups: A conceptual mode. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 55(1), 37-49.

COLOMBO, M., D’Adda, D., Piva, E. (2010). The contribution of university research to the growth of academic start-ups: an empirical analysis. Journal of Technology Transfer, 35(1), 113-140.

CRICELLI, L., Grimaldi, M. (2010). Knowledge-based inter-organizational collaborations. Journal of Knowledge Management, 14(3), 348-358.

D’AVINO, M., Bregni, A., Schiraldi, M. (2013). A revised and improved version of the MRP algorithm: Rev MRP. Applied Mechanics and Materials, 328, p. 276-280.

D’AVINO, M., De Simone, V., Schiraldi, M. (2013, in press). Revised MRP for reducing inventory level and smoothing order releases: a case in manufacturing industry. Production Planning & Control.

D’AVINO, M., Macry Correale, M., Schiraldi, M. (2013, forthcoming). No news, good news: positive impacts of delayed information in MRP. International Journal of Management and Decision Making.

DALKIR, K., Wiseman, E., Shulha, M., McIntyre, S. (2007). An intellectual capital evaluation approach in a government organization. Management Decision, 45(9), 1497-1509.

ETZKOWITZ, H. (1998). The norms of entrepreneurial science: cognitive effects of the new university-industry linkages. Research Policy, 27(8), 823-833.

ETZKOWITZ, H., Leydesdorff, L. (2000). The dynamics of innovation: from national systems and “mode 2” to a triple helix of university-industry-government relations. Research Policy, 29(2), 109-123.

FALSINI, D., Fondi, F., Schiraldi, M. (2012). A logistics provider evaluation and selection methodology based on AHP, DEA and linear programming integration. International Journal of Production Research, Available online: 26 Apr 2012.

FALSINI, D., Fondi, F., Schiraldi, M. (2012). A logistics provider evaluation and selection methodology based on AHP, DEA and linear programming integration. International Journal of Production Research, 50(17), p. 4822-4829.

FREITAS, J. S., Gonçalves, C. A., Cheng, L. C., Muniz, R. M. (2011). Parsimonious Determinants of pre-incubated academic spin-offs initial performance: A configurational perspective. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 6(2), 50-65.

FUMI, A., Scarabotti, L., Schiraldi, M. (forth.). The effect of slot-code optimization in warehouse order picking. International Journal of Business Engineering and Management, submitted to.

FUMI, A., Scarabotti, L., Schiraldi, M. (forth.). The effect of slot-code optimization on travel times in common unit-load warehouses. International Journal of Services and Operations Management, forthcoming.

GRAS, J., Lapera, D., Solves, I., Jover, A., Azuar, J. (2008). An empirical approach to the organisational determinants of spin-off creation in European Universities. International Entrepreneurial Magazine, 4(2), 187-198.

GRECO, M., Branca, A., Morena, G. (2011). An experimental study of the reputation mechanism in a business game. Simulation & Gaming, 42(1), 27-42.

GRECO, M., Cricelli, L., Grimaldi, M. (2013). A strategic management framework of tangible and intangible assets. European Management Journal, 31(1), 55-66.

GRECO, M., Grimaldi, M., Hanandi, M. (2013). How to select knowledge management systems: a framework to support managers. International Journal of Engineering Business Management, 5(4), 1-11.

GRIMALDI, M., Cricelli, L., Greco, M. (2013). The assessment of the intellectual capital impact on the value creation process: a decision support framework for top management. International Journal of Management and Decision Making.

GRIMALDI, M., Cricelli, L., Rogo, F. (2012). A methodology to assess value creation in communities of innovation. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 13(3), 305-330.

KNOCKAERT, M., Spithoven, A., Clarysse, B. (2010). The innovation paradox explored: what is impeding the creation of ICT spin-offs. Forthcoming in Technology Analysis and Strategic Management.

KUJANSIVU, P. (2009). Is there something wrong with intellectual capital management models? Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 7(4), 300-307.

LIMAM Mansar, S., Reijers, H., Ounnar, F. (2009). Development of a decision-making strategy to improve the efficiency of BPR. Expert Systems with Applications, 36, 3248–3262.

MURRAY, F. (2004). The role of academic inventors in entrepreneurial firms: sharing the laboratory life. Research Policy, 33(4), 643-659.

MUSTAR, P. (1997). Spinoff enterprises. How French academics create hi-tech companies: The conditions for success and failure. Science and Public Policy, 24(1), 37-43.

NAHAPIET, J., Ghoshal, S. (1998). Social capital, intellectual capital, and the organizational advantage. Academy of Management Review, 23(2), 242-266.

O’SHEA, R., Chugh, H., Allen, T. J. (2008). Determinants and consequences of university spinoff activity: A conceptual framework. Journal of Technology Transfer, 33(6), 653-666.

POWERS, J., McDougall, P. (2005). University start-up formation and technol- ogy licensing with firms that go public: a resource-based view of academic entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 20(3), 291-311.

ROGERS, E. M. (1986). The role of the research university in the spin-off of high-technology companies. Technovation, 4(3), 169-181.

ROSENBUSCH, N., Brinckmann, J., Bausch, A. (2011). Is innovation always beneficial? A meta analysis of the relationship between innovation and performance in SMEs. Journal of Business Venturing, 26(4), 441-457.

ROTHAERMEL, F. T., Agung, S. D., Jiang, L. (2007). University entrepreneurship: A taxonomy of the literature. Industrial and Corporate Change, 16(4), 691-791.

SAATY, T. L. (1980). The Analytic Hierarchy Process. New York: McGrow-Hill.

SAATY, T. L. (1990). How to make a decision: the analytic hierarchy process. European Journal of Operational Research, 48(1), 9-26.

SAATY, T. L. (1996). Decision making with dependence and feedback: the analytic network process. Pittsburgh, PA: RWS.

SAATY, T. L. (2004). Fundamentals of the analytic network process — Dependence and feedback in decision-making with a single network. Journal of Systems Science and Systems Engineering, 13(2), 129-157.

SAATY, T. L. (2006). Fundamentals of Decision Making and Priority Theory with the Analytic Hierarchy Process. Pittsburgh: RWS.

SALMADOR, M. P., Bueno, E. (2007). Knowledge creation in strategy-making: Implications for theory and practice. European Journal of Innovation Management, 10(3), 367-390.

SHANE, S. (2002). Executive forum: University technology transfer to entrepreneurial companies. Journal of Business Venturing, 17(6), 537-552.

SHANE, S. (2004). Academic entrepreneurship: University spin-offs and wealth creation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

SIEGEL, D., Veugelers, R., Wright, M. (2007). Technology transfer offices and commercialization of university intellectual property: performance and policy implications. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 33(4), 640-660.

STEENKAMP, N., Kashyap, V. (2010). Importance and contribution of intangible assets: SME's managers' perceptions. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 11(3), 368-390.

TAN, H., Plowman, D., Hancock, P. (2008). The evolving research on intellectual capital. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 9(4), 585-608.

TROTT, P., Scholten, V., Hartmann, D. (2008). How university incubators may be overprotective and hindering the success of the young firm: Findings from a preliminary study. (p. 1-5). Europe: International Engineering Management Conference.

VAN BURG, E., Romme, A., Gilsing, V., Reymen. (2008). Creating university spin-offs: A science-based design perspective. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 25(2), 114-128.

VOHORA, A., Wright, M., Lockett, A. (2004). Critical junctures in the development of university high-tech spinout companies. Research Policy, 33(1), 147-175.

WRIGHT, M., Clarysse, B., Mustar, P., Lockett, A. (2007). Academic entrepreneurship in Europe. Cheltenham (UK): Edward Elgar.

WU, W., Lee, Y. (2007). Selecting knowledge management strategies by using the analytic network process. Expert Systems with Applications, 32(3), 841-847.


Copyright (c)

2017 © Universidad Alberto Hurtado - Facultad de Economía y Negocios. 
Erasmo Escala 1835 - Santiago, Chile.
Economic Analysis Review | Observatorio Económico | Gestión y Tendencias 

Journal Supported by Chimera Innova Group