On February 18 Porto Business School was the meeting point for students, researchers, policy makers and executives, to participate in a talk titled “Fifteen Years of Academic Entrepreneurship in Italy,” by Riccardo Fini, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Bologna (UNIBO), and Research Fellow at Imperial College Business School London.
Riccardo Fini has been collecting and studying solid evidence about the characteristics and the performance of startups and spinoffs in academic environments in Italy for over 15 years. Providing a thorough overview of this area of entrepreneurial activity, Fini presented the TASTE project (Taking Stock: External engagement by academics), which aims at systematically mapping entrepreneurship from Italian university labs, providing reliable data to better understand the determinants of their high growth, and key success formulas. As the principal investigator of this project, Riccardo Fini has studied, using a multileveled-structured database, the performance levels, patenting activities and strategies that have shaped the academic entrepreneurship environment in Italy throughout the years. For this work to stay relevant, however, it is important to “keep it alive, and updated,” stated Fini, who recently shared all the information collected in the scope of the project with the Italian Government.
His research is mostly focused on the individual-level determinants of entrepreneurship, aiming at contributing to the theoretical debate on the foundation of entrepreneurial activities. The data and the analysis that Riccardo Fini brought to the audience’s attention were important contributions to help understand the importance of monitoring successes and failures, and understanding the key ingredients for longevity, in new, maturing, and established companies of academic origins, something that seems to be missing in the Portuguese entrepreneurial environment, as discussed with the audience throughout the talk.
Analogous efforts are being thought out for Portugal. The challenges are well identified, and “these are the facts and figures that Portugal needs to obtain from a similar initiative,” emphasized José Manuel Mendonça, Scientific Director of UTEN Portugal. The synergies and collaborations that arise from the international partnerships with American universities can be an important leverage for a detailed and wide analysis, and this is where the UTEN Portugal Program plays a key role, with its broad network of Technology Transfer Offices, Laboratories, and Incubators. According to Jorge Farinha, the vice-president of Porto Business School, who is “proud to host these joint events,” networking moments, as well as presenting studies that can add value to Portugal, are important for the progress of the academic environment, and to keep the dialogue flowing.
This was UTEN’s first talk for 2015, in the hopes that this will be a year of collaborations, joint endeavors and international partnerships.