Does Exposure to University Research Matter?―Evidence from Europe
This paper addresses the behavior and performance of young companies established by entrepreneurs who have been previously exposed to academic research for a considerable amount of time. We use data from a large survey of young companies established in ten European countries and eighteen high-tech, low-tech and knowledge-intensive service sectors. While a fair amount of similarity exists in terms of business motivation and client focus, our findings reveal the group of firms founded by Ph.D. holders to exhibit extensive dependence on university graduates and post graduates as employees, higher reliance on venture capital funding, higher dependence on internal R&D and external scientific and research networks as sources of knowledge, better innovative performance especially in terms of new-to- the world products, increased awareness of intellectual property protection and, last but not least, better performance both in terms of both employment/sales growth and international sales. These we find as important―even though exploratory―indication of support for our basic premise that exposure of company founders to university research affects entrepreneurial incentives and behavior in ways that reflect higher levels of creation and use of scientific and technological knowledge and market niche specialization.