Purpose – The aim of this paper is to present the results of a study examining the role played by academic entrepreneurs in science-based companies grown in university incubators. The authors aim to address whether the presence of academic entrepreneurs improves economic and financial performances. Moreover, the authors aim to verify whether different levels of involvement of academic entrepreneurs (i.e. shareholder, member of board of director) can contribute to different levels of financial performance. ‘
Design/methodology/approach – The research was carried out on a sample of science-based companies originating predominantly from Northern Italy, which had graduated from the Turin Polytechnic Incubator, called I3P. Data about the presence of academic entrepreneurs were obtained by interviewing the Incubator’s CEO, while companies’ financial performance was assessed by financial ratios analysis. A multiple linear regression model was developed to test the relationship between presence of academic entrepreneurs and financial performance, while controlling for the life cycle stage and the industry of the companies.
Findings – The results of the statistical analysis show that there is a negative relationship between the presence of academic entrepreneurs and the overall financial performance of the incubator’s graduated companies. However, there is a positive relationship between a deep involvement of academic entrepreneurs (acting both as shareholders and as directors) and financial performance.
Originality/value – Given the current debate about the different conditions under which university involvement provides advantages or disadvantages for newly created firms, this study provides empirical evidence about the presence and the role played by academic entrepreneurs on science-based companies by focusing on their financial outcomes. Also, little literature has addressed the performance of academic ventures after their graduation from incubators, and as such, the evidence is based on the performance after the companies’ graduation from the incubator.
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