In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of formation of new firms that aim to exploit commercially scientific knowledge developed in universities and other public research organizations. Science-based entrepreneurial firms (SBEFs) are generally considered as a key driver of the rejuvenation of European high-tech industries. Nevertheless, the available evidence indicates that most SBEFs are not fast-growing. In fact, there is the need for a better assessment of the role played by these firms in an advanced economy. The central issue is that there is extensive research concerning entry into science-based entrepreneurship, but little research on their evolution, possible exit from it, and the positive externalities it provides to third parties. The aim of this focused seminar, which is built on the results of the REBASPINOFF PRIME project, was precisely to help close this gap so as to foster the scientific debate on these issues and to set the ground for the design of more effective public policy measures in this area. The seminar focused on the dynamics of SBEFs (What factors constrain or favour their development, where have SBEFs failed and what have been the causes and consequences of failure) and on the impact of SBEFs on its ecosystem (How have SBEFs developed partnerships with other firms and institutions, What have been the consequences of the movement towards science-based entrepreneurship for parent research organizations ?)
A selection of the papers presented at the seminar gave rise to a special issue of the Journal of Technology Transfer, edited by Massimo G. Colombo, Philippe Mustar, Mike Wright (vol 35, number 1, February 2010).