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Interactions between university spin-offs and academia: a dynamic perspective

Jens Laage-Hellman (Department of Technology Management, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Frida Lind (Department of Technology Management, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Christina Öberg (School of Business, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden and Ratio Institute, Stockholm, Sweden)
Tommy Shih (School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 28 April 2020

Issue publication date: 15 December 2020




This paper aims to investigate the nature and dynamics of the interaction between university spin-offs (USOs) and academia.


The theoretical framework is grounded in an interactive view based on the industrial marketing and purchasing literature on USOs and their development. The concepts of activity links, resource ties and actor bonds are used as a starting point for capturing the content and dynamics of the interaction. The empirical part of the paper consists of four case studies captured through interviews as the main data source and analysed to conclude how the interaction between the USO and academia developed over time.


The study identifies a multi-faceted and dynamic content of the interaction. The paper discerns and discusses research and development links, knowledge and equipment ties and social, legal, financial and organizational bonds with inventors, other academic partners and innovation support organizations. The dynamics are manifested both through changes within individual relationships and by adding/ending relationships. One main conclusion regards the existence of wave-like patterns of interaction with academic partners driven by the USOs’ needs and the establishment of customer relationships.


Most of the previous research has described a linear process in which the USO leaves academia once the idea has been transferred to a company. This paper contrasts this view by developing and using an analytical framework to capture the dynamic and continuous interaction between USO and academia.



The authors would like to thank the journal reviewers and participants at the IMP Forum, 2019 in Uppsala for valuable comments that helped us to improve this paper. The authors also would like to thank Forskningsstiftelserna Handelsbanken for financial support of our research.


Laage-Hellman, J., Lind, F., Öberg, C. and Shih, T. (2020), "Interactions between university spin-offs and academia: a dynamic perspective", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 12, pp. 1941-1955.



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