Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Academic Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: The Ut Transform Project

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Academic Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: The Ut Transform Project

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Starting from the early '80s, there has been a substantial increase in the interest in entrepreneurial activity among universities in the US, and in many countries in Europe and Asia. The observation that entrepreneurs are a significant contributor to economic growth and job creation fueled the interest of public institutions and governments (Gans & Stern, 2003; Liao & Welsch, 2003; Lüthje & Franke, 2003; Oakey, 2003; Schramm, 2006; Hsu et al., 2007; Tracey & Phillips, 2007; Delgado et al., 2010; Glaeser et al., 2010; Delgado et al., 2012; Chatterji et al., 2013; Volchek et al., 2014). The acknowledgement that entrepreneurship is a discipline that can be learned has led to a myriad of different approaches to entrepreneurship education programs (Aronsson, 2004; Henry et al., 2005; Krueger, 2007). Furthermore, the enactment of the BayhDole Act in the 1980's reinforced the mandate for commercializing research via robust university technology transfer processes (Siegel & Phan, 2005), a phenomenon also known as academic entrepreneurship. Rivalry, competitiveness, and the increasing pressure to find new financing channels has pushed many universities to foster academic entrepreneurship by establishing technology transfer offices with the main goal of patenting and licensing intellectual property. In recent years, academic entrepreneurship has changed dramatically.

Universities now play a major role in promoting the creation of new firms on their campuses, or within close proximity in the surrounding area. The proliferation of entrepreneurship courses and programs on campuses has led to more students involved in technology venture start-up activities and has evolved to include faculty and staff. Technology managers and researchers should rethink entrepreneurship in the academy to take into account these changes (Siegel & Phan). Achieving success with technology start-ups is important to schools because academic institutions need to adjust to new challenges, such as decreased amounts of federal research funding, increased emphasis on technology commercialization, pressure to limit tuition fee increases, and an overall criticism that the U.S. is losing its competitive edge in innovation and product development (Schramm, 2006). The creation and maintenance of a transformational and progressive entrepreneurial ecosystem within the university environment is essential to foster, support, develop, and commercialize new technologies (Kuratko, 2005). Such an ecosystem could help change academic mindsets and cultures and also result in higher competiveness in global markets, increased external funding via follow-up research dollars, enhanced educational environment for students and faculty gaining translational research experience, increased marketability of university graduates, and greater financial returns to the university via technology commercialization. In this paper, we present the results of our experiment in this arena, describing a multiphase approach to benchmarking, educating, soliciting, and funding technology commercialization projects across the University of Texas System academic institutions and health science centers.

ACADEMIC ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The enactment of the Bayh-Dole Act in the USA in 1980 pushed universities to establish technology transfer offices (TTO) with the aim to increase the commercialization of federallyfunded scientific research. The technology commercialization process can occur through several modes, with traditional TTO's focusing on a mission of facilitate the patenting and licensing of new technologies. In 2012 alone, the annual licensing revenues generated by U.S. universities were $2.6 billion. More recently, scholars and policy makers have understood that the role of the individual scientist or engineer is crucial in order to successfully commercialize the university intellectual property. Consequently, ttos increasingly devote more attention to the creation of technology risk reduction activities and spin-off firms by scientists and faculty (Wright et al. …

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