Project Description


To date, research on ecosystems has separated them into three categories, namely business, innovation,
and entrepreneurial; however, few studies have analyzed their outputs in terms of innovative business
creation. Innovative business creation can differ between university spin-offs and innovative start-ups,
and as far as we know, a comparison of the performance of each with respect to growth in sales has not
yet been provided. This paper contributes to providing theoretical and empirical insights into the
performance of innovation ecosystems, university spin-offs (USOs) and innovative start-ups (ISs) in
Italy and the effectiveness of ecosystem-level interactions. Through the lens of the innovation system,
the paper examines two datasets of 305 university spin-offs and 1494 innovative start-ups in Italy,
including firm- specific, university-specific, industry-specific, time-specific and ecosystem-specific data.
The empirical research takes place via panel data regression that compares the performances of
university spin-offs and innovative start-ups, measured by growth in sales. It emerges that sales growth
is positively related to ISs performance, while innovativeness and network building does not leverage
growth for all companies in the same way. Not surprisingly, innovative start-ups in High R&D sectors
show higher rates of growth in sales than USOs and are more closely connected with the regional
innovation ecosystem. Thus, to enhance growth for other early-stage innovative companies, especially if
coming from academia or sectors with lower R&D investments, it is important to invest in R&D
activities, in building relationships in the commercial world, and in particular in enhancing relationships
regarding sale activities, including staff exchange, specific training and ecosystem events regarding
innovation ecosystems, intertwining national, regional and sectorial systems.