Academic Spin-Offs in Italy: New Opportunities for Research Professionals

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:56
Oral Presentation
Augusto COCORULLO, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Naples, Italy
Stefano BOFFO, Università degli studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy
The paper investigates university spin-offs in Italy from two different perspectives. Firstly, the growing number of spin-offs as an opportunity for younger academics to be employed. An aspect related to the current condition of Italian academic workers, increasingly affected by budget constraints and university policies in the last twenty years. Secondly, the academic actors involved in the spin-offs creation process, in the light of their identity and self-perception. In the first part of the paper we use a quantitative method based on the analysis of data from official statistical sources (Anvur, Netval, Cineca); afterwards, a qualitative section, starts from the analysis of interviews of four case studies. We show that the growing number of spin-offs can (also) be explained as a result of the decline of stable positions in Italian universities and we explore four possible identity-working configurations of academic actors involved. We stress the role of university spin-offs as a tool for allow young scientific researchers to get a job and pursue their research activity. The “entrepreneurial environment” introduced by the university spin-offs forces the academic identities to be exposed to a so far unexperienced strain. If the university spin-offs are a valuable tool for enhancing research results, the new configuration of higher education that results seems to push the Italian universities towards a deep identity change, associated with the dilation of its missions, its boundaries and its disciplinary fields with the other spheres of society, such as the business or the financial sectors. We propose a new tool, called “matrix of trends”, addressed to describe spin-off actors following their orientation (academic or entrepreneurial). The “matrix of trends” presents all the possible configurations of a particular feature related to a subject or an event, in its crossing with an additional property, that is also divided between two extremes.