Universities and start-up creation by Ph.D. graduates: the role of scientific and social capital of academic laboratories

Alessandro Muscio, Sotaro Shibayama, Laura Ramaciotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigates how the characteristics of university laboratories influence the propensity of Ph.D. students to entrepreneurship, and thus, contribute to the transfer of academic knowledge to society. As determinants of Ph.D. entrepreneurship, we focus on the lab scientific and social capital as well as on the business experience that Ph.D. students acquire during their training period. The empirical exercise is based on questionnaire survey data of 5266 Ph.D. students in Italian universities in all subject areas. First, we find that 6.7% of the Ph.D. graduates engage in startup activities, and thus, Ph.D. training seems to contribute to knowledge transfer through entrepreneurship. Second, Ph.D. entrepreneurship is driven by business experience, in the forms of industry collaboration and industrially applicable research projects, during their training period. Third, the lab scientific capital is negatively associated with Ph.D. entrepreneurship, suggesting a conflict between scientific excellence and entrepreneurship, but this effect is mitigated if students acquire business experience. Fourth, the lab social capital increases the chance of startup when students have business experience. We further investigate the effects of lab environment by distinguishing between startups that are based on university research and startups that are not, finding different determinants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-175
JournalJournal of Technology Transfer
Issue number1
Early online date2021 Feb 4
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration

Free keywords

  • Academic training
  • Entrepreneurial university
  • Firm creation
  • Ph.D
  • Start-up
  • Student entrepreneurship


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