Table of Contents
Summary .............................................................................................................. 2
Academic entrepreneurship and university spin-off in literature .................. 3
Factors influence academic entrepreneurship ............................................................. 3
Transfer technology approaches .................................................................................... 4
Challenges in academic entrepreneurship ..................................................................... 5
Entrepreneurial Network in literature.............................................................. 6
The creation of entrepreneurial network ...................................................................... 7
Evaluating entrepreneurial network ............................................................................... 7
Obstacles and challenges in networking ........................................................................ 9
The implementation ......................................................................................... 10
Building my network as an academic entrepreneur ............................................... 10
How I do create my network practically .................................................................. 11
The needed resources in my network ....................................................................... 13
Conclusion ......................................................................................................... 13
The references ................................................................................................... 15
In this paper I explore three distinct concepts: academic entrepreneurship, university
spin-off firms, and social networking in order to build up a network for acquiring the
resources I need to start a university spin off and how I will develop and maintain it.
Academic entrepreneurship is defined as academic members within university behaveing in
such a manner as to be able to create business through transferring knowledge from university
to real life. Many factors have an impact on academic entrepreneurship. These include, among
others, university transfer technology policy, which is supposed to facilitate the process of
transferring technology to commercialization activities; technology transfer intermediaries,
which are supposed to manage transferring technology and build links with external partners
who have the capacity
for commercialization activities as well as
for running other
operations; and university characteristics, for example quality of the university’s research.
Different approaches can be followed to find external partners, who can carry
technology out to the market and cooperate in spinning off firms. Examples of this can be
looking for regional alliances, looking for partners through internet-based approaches or
through faculty-loyalty approaches. Academic entrepreneurship faces many challenges from
different aspects, like how to connect university scientists with the right contacts, how to
define the entrepreneurship policy and recognizing the challenges facing global academic
Having an entrepreneurial network is an important part for an academic entrepreneur
to support him in spinning off his business through providing resources, knowledge among
other supporting tools.. Building a network is significant for academic entrepreneurs
particularly in the first stages of establishing a business, when it needs resources and
experience which a new entrepreneur may not necessarily have. Firstly, networks can be
networking activities, then maintaining them and managing them
according to the need of the business. Network evaluation is necessary in order to improve the
performance and that can be achieved through measuring the performance in the three
different phases of building a network.
The last part of this paper is the implementation of the theoretical concepts based off my
real business case as an academic entrepreneur. For example, how to create my own network
to start my own business as an academic entrepreneur and which kind of network partners I
need to carry my business to success.
Academic entrepreneurship and university spin-off in literature:
Academic entrepreneurship is creating an environment in order to exploit knowledge and
to stimulate entrepreneurial behaviors within a university, between its members (Sijde, 2002).
The concept also includes research and education behaviors which lead one to become
income-oriented through taking risk, which creates stability for the university through getting
involved in business activities (Balázs, 1996). Academic entrepreneurship provides
experiential opportunities for students through a Start-up company in a real world situation
which makes the students focused and helps them to understand how to run a business.
(Malcolm Kahn, interview 2011)1
University spin-off firms can be defined as a special kind of spin-off, established in order
to exploit technology – which has been developed within a university – commercially (Danny
P., 2010). To spin off a firm, one needs resources for both running and growing the business.
The main way to get these required resources is through networking, which can influence the
growth of university spin-offs according to tightness, strength, social heterogeneity and how
far away network partners are (Danny P., 2010). Social networks play a critical role,
particularly in the early stage of spin-offs, and the profile of these networks should be built on
a resource-based perspective (Danny P., 2011).
Factors influence academic entrepreneurship
There are many factors that influence academic entrepreneurship and transferring
technology like university technology transfer policies, technology transfer intermediaries,
and university characteristics (Aida Caldera, 2010):
University technology transfer policies (Aida Caldera,2010)
The universities aim to facilitate knowledge transfer using a fast and efficient
method to carry it to the commercial stage. So the strategy should be clear and have
guidelines to manage the transfer of the knowledge without obstacles and without bad
influences on the university since its first mission is teaching and research. One of the
main problems, which should be solved through the policies, is disclosing the knowhow to TTO (Siegel et al., 2003, 2007). However, some studies (Aida Caldera, 2010)
Vice-president for Enterprise Development and Licensing SIT, Malcolm Kahn said students are the customers
of a university, and they need the skills to enter the workforce in a prepared fashion
show that through well-defined licensing contracts one can still encourage the
inventors to disclose their ideas
Technology transfer intermediaries(Aida Caldera,2010)
It is necessary to have an intermediary between the idea providers and the
commercialization agents in order to manage the process of transferring the
technology- and here, TTO and Science Park play a role. The researchers in the
university disclose their inventions to the university TTO. TTO also evaluates the
invention’s equality, obtaining patents, fixing licensing contracts and also helps in
spin-offs. Successful transferring does not only rely on the quality of the invention, but
also on the TTO’s experience in transferring the knowledge. A science park is
important to facilitate the interaction between the university and the firms which were
established by the university.
University characteristics(Aida Caldera,2010)
The university characteristics- also known as institutional characteristics- which
consists of e.g. the size of the university, the quality of research or the location, has a
positive impact on the performance, in addition to the quality of the technology.
Transfer technology approaches:
Many different approaches can be followed to transfer technology to
commercialization stage (Robert E., 2007). The university usually does not have the resources
to carry the technology to the commercialization activities. So it needs a link between it and
the external part which has the capability to carry inventions further examples of this includes
bearing patent cost or commercialization activities. Transfer technology can be happen
Regional alliance (Robert E., 2007): this kind of third part is recommended to small
research universities which have no capability to support a seasoned and highly able
licensing Commercializing Innovations.
Internet-based Approaches (Robert E., 2007): This kind is closely related to regional
alliances. This approach is about linking who owns the idea to who is ready to
implement it by using the internet to facilitate the commercialization.
Faculty loyalty (Robert E., 2007): This approach is considered to be the most widely
used. It fits better for well-run universities, because the faculty takes risks by giving
up their intellectual rights which encourages the external agents to commercialize it,
and this model generates more revenue for the university. Moreover, it makes the
university’s administration focus on its activities.
Figure nr.1 illustrates the links between the university and the external partner - according
to the articles I went through and my own understanding- in order to start up a new business.
In domain nr.1, it shows that the university can be linked to an external partner through TTO.
Furthermore, it shows how a Science Park is used to evaluate and develop the university’s
scientists. In domain nr.2, it shows the different approaches used (they are explained above)
in order to look for a third part that is going to carry the technology further to the
commercialization stage. Finally, in domain nr.3, we can see how the university and external
partner cooperate to establish a firm, and how the Science Park collaborates in developing the
idea behind the business.
Figure nr.1: Illustration of the linkages between the university and the external partner in order to transfer
Challenges in academic entrepreneurship
Science students from different scientific fields, which have
good ideas for
business, and who want to launch a business but without leaving their field, have a
lack of appropriate contacts to help them by providing the resources to carry their
ideas out of the university and making it generate revenue ( Jerry McGuire,
interview 2010) 2
Defining certain entrepreneurship policies in an organization in order to recognize
both the entrepreneurial and scholarly activities (Jerry McGuire, interview 2010).
Jerry McGuire, Associate Vice Chancellor of Economic Development at the University of North Carolina,
Greensboro discusses the trends and changing expectations of a college education and community
I want to touch on some challenges and obstacles facing academic global start-ups,
because I believe it is important for the world in general. In the case of an
academic global start-up, there are 3 main challenges to consider ( Jose M. ,2003):
o Lack of commitment towards internationalization: It is important to build a
global vision for academic entrepreneurs who have little or no management
experience that makes them able to identify international business
opportunities. Moreover, in order to set up global activities, they need a
global partner- something which is hard to find (Jose M., 2003).
o Lack of managerial experience and international skills. Many scientists
don’t have experience in entrepreneurship or business to play role in global
start-up (Jose M., 2003).
o Lack of resources for internationalization. Resources like time, money, and
credibility which are necessary to reach different markets in different
countries (Jose M., 2003).
Entrepreneurial Network in literature.
A Network usually consists of many nodes and connections between them, and that is
the structure of the network (Walker 1988). Networking activities have a positive influence on
the founders and their start-up’s success. Networking also means having a trusted group of
contacts, who exchange relations
either between individuals,
institutions or between individuals and organizations like firms, universities, authorities, etc
(Witt Petter, 2004).
Building and maintaining large entrepreneurial network is important and
recommended when an entrepreneur wants to have a successful start-up where he can use his
personal network contacts to drive benefits for it. A start-up business requires knowledge and
skills which an entrepreneur might not have. In order to get benefits, some features should be
characteristic of the network partners like entrepreneurial experience, social competency, their
level of education, among others (Sandaran P., 2002, P.69).
The creation of entrepreneurial network (Witt Petter, 2004):
1. The first chain called “networking activities” where an entrepreneur creates, sustains
and extends his entrepreneurial networks
2. The second chain called “network structure” where the entrepreneur has to analyze the
structural characteristics of his network at some points, and it can be the same as
measuring the result of the networking activities in the earlier stage.
3. The third chain is called “the benefits received from the network.” It can be close to
the firm’s performance to measure the benefit of the information and any other
services received through the network.
Figure nr.2 demonstrates the networking model according to the articles I have read and
my own opinion. The first phase shows the creation of the network and how the infinity
operation sustains and expands the network. In the second phase, the entrepreneur evaluates
his network to see the result of the networking activities, and in case of unsatisfied results, he
can return back to the first phase to make the network better. In the third phase, an
entrepreneur evaluates the benefits he got through the network, and in case of a negative
evaluation, the entrepreneur has to return back to the second phase to evaluate the network
There is a positive relationship between networking and benefits. For example the large
amount of networking activities that an entrepreneur has gotten engaged in, how large the
personal network is, and how central his position is within the network- all these factors
mentioned can define how much benefit an entrepreneur will gain through the network.
Evaluating entrepreneurial network
Measuring entrepreneurial network within the three aforementioned phases can be done
using some criteria for each phase (Witt Petter, 2004).
1. In the first phase (creating, maintaining, and expanding), the network can be
measured through time spent on networking and frequency of communicating to
actual network partners
2. In the second phase (network structure analysis), the network can be measured
through the number of network partners with whom the entrepreneur discusses
business ideas, the diversity of the network, and the density of the network, which
means the contacts between the network partners.
3. In the third phase (evaluating the benefits from the network), the network can be
measured through the frequency of new information provided by the network, and
the extent of support from the network partners.
Figure2: Model- from my point of view- of creating network till getting the benefits
An entrepreneur creates and develops some external relationship with sets of actors
which are defined as those who do the activities and control the resources, and they can be
informal partners and/or formal organizations (Sandaran P., 2002, p.70-72). Also there are
other kinds of actors who are considered as temporary and can be categorized in three
categories (see figure nr.3): a social network of actors- including relatives, friends and
acquaintances; inter-firm network of actors, which consists of other firms; and a supporting
network of actors- including governmental agencies, NGOs, and banks, which support
emerging businesses (Sandaran P., 2002, p.70-72). However, the actors are still not limited to
individuals and organizations. There are some common areas or characteristics of the actors in
the network, who control resources and activities, as well as developing relationships through
exchange processes like having their own goals. Diversity of knowledge and the actors
maintains the link between them thanks to the resources and activities provided (Sandaran P.,
Figure 3: the actors and the mutual relationships with the entrepreneur from my understanding
In order to have a good cooperation or alliance between the network’s members, the
trust and commitment between them should be developed, because as long as higher trust and
commitment between the partners exists, the higher the alliance’s performance will be
Obstacles and challenges in networking:
Many obstacles can be faced either within the network structure or before, while building the
Life-cycle stage (Christine E., 2010): which means lack of time for partners to
communicate, sometimes it needs daily communicating, especially in start-up
Lack of knowledge about residents (Christine E., 2010): the lack of knowledge that
a company has about others because of lack of contact.
Lack of trust (Christine E., 2010): lack of trust leads to avoiding sharing information
with other partners.
No diversity (Rob Cross, 2011): It is important to have the right people. That is, have
many different categories of relationships in order to fill all the knowledge gaps
No quality of partners (Rob Cross, 2011). If there is no quality in the ties, then there
will not be any development in the performance. The partner should be eligible to
provide new information, resources, mentoring, sense-making, feedback among others
This section is about how to apply the theoretical concepts on my real life business. I
believe that I need an entrepreneurial network when it comes to running my business project
because of my needs to get a deeper market insight. This is due to the fact that I do not think I
can get complete market insight by myself due to a lack of experience in business/marketing
experience in marketplace of various countries like Norway, as well as a lack of
understanding of Norwegian culture. Also I believe I need a network because it can give me
the chance to discover new business opportunities through exchanging opinions. I think social
networking can help me to reach the right decision by reaching the right people who can help
me to sharpen my decision. Social networking can also give me access to customers who can
give me feedback about my business as well as suggestions on how to make my service or
product better. Furthermore, a social network can help me to gain access to people in order to
develop my business further not just technically, but also in any other way that improves my
business in general. . I believe also that I need a team to manage my tasks and this team can
be created through a social network.
I think in order to build my entrepreneurial network; I have to work on myself to
develop my skills in such a way that it can give my brand some features that will convince
potential partners to get involved in my network. Also I think I need to improve my skills
because networking myself is about showing my skills or selling myself to others through
sharing my ideas, my knowledge, my experience, and my opinions. I can show my skills also
through offering advice when it comes to some points in my field.
Building my network as an academic entrepreneur
I believe that when I want to build my network, I should take care of some points.
Finding out who I need in my network which fits my required resources
according to my business. For example, which field my business belongs to,
which market it is going to work in, what kind of operations are going to run
through my business etc….
Daring to introduce myself and exploit every opportunity I can get to introduce
myself to potential partners for my network, e.g. Through the university,
social life, and so on.
Maintaining my network by continuously contacting the partners via periodic
emails or regularly calling them by phone. I will also maintain my network by
helping the partners in the form of giving advice or offering my resources.
Managing my network by dividing it among different levels according to my
needs because I do not think I can give every link in the whole network the
same priority as it can result in costing me time, money and revealing ideas or
knowledge without getting anything in return. I think there should be mutual
benefit, so I think I can put more effort on the network’s partners which are
more relevant to my needs.
How I do create my network practically
Preparing to create my network: here I need to identify specific steps which can
make me reach my goal of building a network:
o Identifying my needs such as resources, services and knowledge which are
required for my business.
o Identifying some potential partners as individuals or companies where I can expect
to receive some benefit from working with them.
o Defining partners which I think they can influence the processes of my business
through asking their opinions or advices. Or through people who can help me to
take the right decision.
o Identifying how and where to meet potential partners, for example at school, in
conferences, during social life’s events, to name a few. .
o Building my brand in order to be a potential partner for others also and making
myself a convincing salesman for them.
Executing building my network
1. Building my brand and reputation.
o Start building my brand and sell myself as a potential partner for others.
This can be accomplished by differentiating myself from others in that I
have specific, desirable features. For example using my knowledge in I.T.
and my skills which I got through the BCE program.
o Being aware of opportunities where I can be recognized by others, for
example through school events, conferences, workshops, social events
o Bringing value to myself by for example offering advice and showing
interest in a variety of topics.
o Showing confidence in my acting and in my opinions, and through showing
that, I know what I want exactly and have devised plans to achieve my
o Be careful to maintain an untarnished reputation, in case someone was to
run a background check on me, for example if someone decides to google
me, what they would find. Or how do others talk about me.
o Showing interesting in people I meet.
o Being positive when doing a favor because it might be returned.
2. Maintaining the network
o After meeting people, it is important to contact them shortly after the initial
o Using modern tools for keeping in contact with partners. For example,
LinkedIn or through the social media site, Facebook.
o Sending positive e-mails periodically.
o Creating reasons that will make others remember me.
o Taking care of others’ needs, and taking the initiative to offer advice or
help when applicable.
o Avoiding talking badly about them in front of others.
o Creating some social events and concentrate on enjoying their company.
o Don’t talk business all the time which might make others tired and possibly
jeopardize the partnership as a consequence.
3. Managing the network
o Defining the needed resources, experiences, knowledge and other needed
things for my business
o Determine which partners from my network have the defined needs in
order to categorize them in the most important level of partners to spend
more time and more effort for increasing the partnership with them, and
categorize the less important partners in another category in order to spend
the appropriate time for them which will save my time.
o In case lack of the required partner. I need to go back again to creating and
The needed resources in my network
o Mentor: particularly in the first stages in business, I think I need a guy
with experience about the market and known of the tricks in the market to
avoid falling down.
o Connector: I think I need a guy to be as door opener who knows a lot of
people who might be part of my team. People are often hold good
information, and are able to find opening that other don’t see.
o Industry insider: I need to a guy holds expertise within the specific field.
Provide insights about future opportunities and developments
o Realist: I need a guy who can provide reality check to plans and challenge
my efforts to reach goal.
o Dreamer- visionary- : I need a guy who can provide inspiration and see
o Coach: I need a guy who can help with critical decisions and transitions
After exploring many articles about academic entrepreneurship, university spin off,
technology transfer and entrepreneurial network, I think all these topics deserve focusing
on in order making university a source for supporting the economy and develop the
market further continuously. I think in order to growing academic entrepreneurship up,
university should focus first of all about building a good policy and strategy for that to
make the process of technology transfer goes smoothly. Secondly I think university has to
work on connecting science students with proper network which can help them to carry
out their ideas to success.
If I want to apply the concept of academic entrepreneurship on university of Tromso, I
think the university has a good opportunity of in that field because of the unique
geographical location which makes it unique in some fields, and because of it is
surrounded by good business environment in Tromso city which can enhance building
good network in order helping students to exploit their ideas within the university.
Moreover because of the entrepreneurship awareness in the university which it can be
noticed by the frequent conferences, or through business school.
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