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The Role and Experience of Inventors and Start-ups in Commercializing University Research: Case Studies at the University of California

Abstract

This chapter from the author's dissertation summarizes findings from case studies of university-based start-up firms. The case studies contribute descriptive accounts to support and illuminate emerging empirical research on this specialized set of start-ups. The case studies highlight several interesting findings related to the special role of inventors and the university in developing the technology as well as how the operating experience of these firms compares and contrasts with standard beliefs about start-ups. For example, the case studies document the stark contrasts among university-based start-ups with respect to both the importance of intellectual property and the company's ability to access venture capital. The case studies also highlight the importance of the inventor's personal (or tacit) knowledge in developing the technology. Finally, university inventions in the electronics and semiconductor fields, unlike pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, were the result of research that had been conducted years earlier in corporate laboratories. Hence, technology was transferred into the university.

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