Sunday, March 15, 2009

Short Review of "Academic Entrepreneurs or Entrepreneurial Academics?" (Meyer)

Short Review of "Academic Entrepreneurs or Entrepreneurial Academics? Research based Ventures and Public Support Mechanisms" (Martin Meyer)

Meyer published this article during my first year of graduate studies in 2003 when I was shuffling back and forth to Dubai many evenings a week at an entrepreneurial university's offshore campus. Other than that I had never heard of Wollongong. Dubai's annual educational expo has no doubt expanded in size due to Dubai's groundbreaking development of the Knowledge Village concept whereby several more entrepreneurial universities and colleges have set up shop there as well as similar undertakings in nearby Qatar.

In Australia itself I began to hear of something which does not yet appear to have taken off in Canada. Namely this would be the triple helix model of knowledge production, or government-university-business developments which Meyer discusses in this article. He compares spin-offs from private business to university incubated developments to attempt to clarify the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each origin.

He relies on data collected within the last ten to twenty years or so first citing a French study which highlighted the importance of the entrepreneurial ability to develop multiple linkages between large varieties of business sectors in relation incubator success. Meyer also descibes mixed conclusions over the necessity of growth orientation particularly regarding the priorities of academic inspired innovation and development targets especially when the orignator remains fully employed perhaps as a professor. Further he notes that many start up firms over-rely on technological factors and under-develop business management skills.

Meyer's research indicated as of 2003 that the vast majority of business start-ups are heavily endorsed by corporations rather than academia and that the greatest of support services for such developments remains funding support. His case study findings indicated that the largest proportion of successful incubators rely ona wide and diverse network of inter-connected business relationships with contrasts illustrated in two basic forms of start-up.

The first is described as an incubator heavily reliant on grants from public research funds, with moderate growth, insubstantial business training or advisement and a token list of business support networks. The second is described as possessing strong IPO launches and ATP financing assistance with business savvy board of directors and supervisory planners which ensure high business incubation network support and concurrent high growth. Finally Meyer concludes that the more business analysis training and experience that technologists receive favourbaly impacts the success of their incubator start up efforts.

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