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Academic spinoffs as a value driver for intellectual capital: the case of the University of Pisa

Giovanna Mariani (University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy)
Ada Carlesi (University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy)
Alfredo Antonino Scarfò (University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 8 January 2018




The purpose of this paper is to discuss academic spinoffs (ASO) as an expression of the value creation of university technology transfer (TT) investments. More recently, scholars have emphasised intellectual capital’s (IC) importance, also for universities in obtaining competitive advantages and by creating value. Such spinoffs are key to regional development, as a primary aspect of universities’ IC.


The authors tested the aim through a sample of the University of Pisa’s spinoffs. The authors measured the value the university’s third mission investment generates on the area by means of entrepreneurship through two different approaches. First, the authors defined a multiplier of the TT investment (university TT multiplier) and then explored the IC components’ contributions to the ASOs’ enterprise value (EV).


The results show that the University of Pisa’s TT investments positively impact the local community through the spinoff system, both in economic terms and in IC. In the long term, these investments can enrich scientific humus and entrepreneurial mindsets.

Research limitations/implications

This is an exploratory study of the University of Pisa’s impacts on the local economy. The results are limited to the context of Pisa and to the TT policy. Another limitation is the subjectivity of the EV estimation.

Practical implications

The results can have some practical implications. The large portfolio of university stakeholders (policymakers, families, students, companies, financiers, etc.) ask for information, especially on long-term results: in a simple way, the multiplier is able to communicate important feedbacks to support their decision-making process.

Social implications

With the multiplier, the authors give a tool to measure the social enrichment.


In the study, the authors propose a new tool to measure the impact of the investment in TT on the local community.



Mariani, G., Carlesi, A. and Scarfò, A.A. (2018), "Academic spinoffs as a value driver for intellectual capital: the case of the University of Pisa", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 202-226.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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