This article provides a critical review and discussion of current literature on technology transfer, incubators, and academic entrepreneurship. Drawing upon the notion of robustness in social systems and public choice theory, we review, code, and taxonomize 166 studies to assess the likelihood that these initiatives will generate innovation and economic growth. We find that academic entrepreneurship initiatives are characterized by conflicting goals, weak incentive structures for universities and academics, and are contextually dependent upon factors such as university strength. Our results suggest that there are critical boundary conditions that are unlikely to be fulfilled when universities and policymakers enact policies to support academic entrepreneurship initiatives. Policymakers therefore need to be cautious in the potential design of such initiatives. We discuss how technology transfer from universities might be better achieved through alternative mechanisms such as contract research, licensing, consulting and increased labor mobility among researchers.
Related content: Working paper No. 271
Sandström,C., Wennberg, K., Wallin, M.W., & Zherlygina, Y. (2018). Public policy for academic entrepreneurship initiatives: a review and critical discussion. The Journal of Technology Transfer. DOI: 10.1007/s10961-016-9536-x