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Does the Academic Structure Discourage the Creation of Spin-offs?

Does the Academic Structure Discourage the Creation of Spin-offs?
Monday, 6 November 2017

Even though we can talk about different situations where universities are trying to promote more spin-off creation (see the articles below for some examples), we should consider that the academic structure of universities can actually discourage this process. For example, in order to achieve academic recognition, professors and PhD students are often required to publish a certain amount of scientific articles, however, these articles may never gain much traction [1].

This means that professors and students must dedicate a large about of time writing academic papers and are often discouraged from publishing in the popular media. The opinions of these professionals are, therefore, often hidden from the public eye and research can be buried and never found. [2] In turn, this means that the academics have less time to dedicate to other endeavours such as starting a new company with the knowledge and experience that they have [1].

Academic entrepreneurs, on the other hand, do have the ability to impact policy and interact with the public [1]. And we can see that wealth creation can start at universities [3]! Many different types of academics have been able to enter into this entrepreneurial world and many different disciplines, from natural scientists to historians, have been represented within the successful group of business starters [4].

However, this means that many academic entrepreneurs nowadays live almost double lives—that of an academic and that of an entrepreneur. And that their non-academic work is hardly noticed within the university system is unrecognised. Therefore, perhaps we should consider re-structuring the academic system to count startups and entrepreneurial ventures as valid academic contributions. [1]

See more about universities promoting spin-offs here: