University technology commercialization through new venture projects: an assessment of the French regional incubator program

  • Zouhaïer M’Chirgui
  • Wadid Lamine
  • Sarfraz Mian
  • Alain Fayolle


This article assesses the performance of a technology business incubator program, established by the French government to support innovative new science and technology-based firms (NSTBF) that seek to commercialize laboratory research results. With a resource-based view and an institutional approach, this study predicts why some incubators may be more successful than others in supporting the development of NSTBF. An original longitudinal data set represents the results of a public incubator program, funded following the passage of a 1999 French law on innovation and research. The findings refer to a sample of 25 operationally active incubators and their 1200 graduated new ventures. This study contributes to the literature on business incubation by showing the importance of various incubator resource inputs for aiding NSTBF projects. It thus provides useful and timely feedback for researchers and policy makers.


Incubator Entrepreneurial university New science and technology-based firm Commercialization Resource-based view 

JEL Classification

M130 M320 M310 



The authors thank Asma Guerfeli of University of Tunis for his technical assistance in the statistical analysis.


  1. Aernoudt, R. (2004). Incubators: Tool for entrepreneurship? Small Business Economics, 23(1), 127–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aerts, K., Matthyssens, P., & Vandenbempt, K. (2007). Critical role and screening practices of European business incubators. Technovation, 27(1), 254–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen, D. N., & McCluskey, R. (1990). Structure, policy, services and performance in the business incubator industry. Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, 15(2), 61–77.Google Scholar
  4. Anand, J., & Delios, A. (2002). Absolute and relative resources as determinants of international acquisitions. Strategic Management Journal, 23(1), 119–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Babero, J. L., Casillas, J. C., Wright, M., & Garcia, A. R. (2014). Do different types of incubators produce different types of innovations? Journal of Technology Transfer, 39(2), 151–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1), 99–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bergek, A., & Norrman, C. (2008). Incubator best practice: A framework? Technovation, 28(1), 20–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bigliardi, B., Dormio, A. I., Nosella, A., & Petroni, G. (2006). Assessing science parks’ performances: Directions from selected Italian case studies. Technovation, 26, 489–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bodas Freitas, I. M., Geuna, A., & Rossi, F. (2013). Finding the right partners: institutional and personal modes of governance of university–industry interaction. Research Policy, 42(1), 50–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carroll, G. R., & Hannan, M. T. (1989). Density delay in the evolution of organizational populations: A model and five empirical tests. Administrative Science Quarterly, 34, 411–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chan, K. F., & Lau, T. (2005). Assessing technology incubator programs in the science park: the good, the bad and the ugly. Technovation, 25(10), 1215–1228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen, C.-J. (2009). Technology commercialization, incubator and venture capital, and new venture performance. Journal of Business Research, 62(1), 93–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Corona, L., Doutriaux, J., & Mian, S. A. (2006). Building knowledge regions in North America: Emerging technology innovation poles. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dettwiler, P., Lindelof, P., & Lofsten, H. (2007). Utility of location: A comparative survey between small new technology-based firms located on and off Science Parks—Implications for facilities management. Technovation, 26, 506–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dew, A., Llewellyn, G., & Balandin, S. (2004). Post-parental care: A new generation of sibling-carers. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 29(2), 176–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DiGregorio, D., & Shane, S. (2003). Why do some universities generate more start-ups than others? Research Policy, 32(1), 209–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Etzkowitz, H. (2002). Incubation of incubators: Innovation as a triple helix of university–industry–government networks. Science and Public Policy, 28(2), 115–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Etzkowitz, H., Mello, J. M. C., Almeida, M., & M, Almeida. (2005). Towards “meta-innovation” in Brazil: The evolution of the incubator and the emergence of a triple helix. Research Policy, 34(1), 411–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ferguson, R., & Olofsson, C. (2004). Science parks and the development of NTBFs—Location, survival and growth. Journal of Technology Transfer, 29, 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fini, R., Grimaldi, R., Santoni, S., & Sobrero, M. (2011). Complements or substitutes? The role of universities and local context in supporting the creation of academic spin-offs. Research Policy, 40, 1113–1127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Freel, M. (2003). Sectoral patterns of small firm innovation. Networking and Proximity, Research Policy, 32(5), 751–770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gardner, W., Mulvey, E. P., & Shaw, E. C. (1995). Regression analyses of counts and rates: Poisson, overdispersed Poisson, and negative binomial models. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 392–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gilbert, B. A., McDougall, P. P., & Audretsch, D. B. (2008). Clusters, knowledge spillovers and new performance: An empirical examination. Journal of Business Venturing, 23(1), 405–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Greenwood, R., & Suddaby, R. (2006). Institutional entrepreneurship in mature fields: The big five accounting firms. Academy of Management Journal, 49(1), 27–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grimaldi, R., & Grandi, A. (2005). Business incubators and new venture creation: an assessment of incubating models. Technovation., 25(2), 111–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Haber, S., & Reichel, A. (2007). ‘The cumulative nature of the entrepreneurial process: The contribution of human capital planning and environment resources to small venture performance. Journal of Business Venturing, 22, 119–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hackett, S. M., & Dilts, D. M. (2004). A systematic review of business incubation research. Journal of Technology Transfer, 29, 55–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hackett, S. M., & Dilts, D. M. (2008). Inside the black box of business incubation: study B—Scale assessment systems. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 33, 439–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hannan, M. T., & Freeman, J. (1989). Organizational ecology. Cambridge: HarvardUniv. Press.Google Scholar
  30. Hansen, M. T., Chesbrough, H. W., Nohria, N., & Sull, D. N. (2000). Networked incubators: hothouses of the new economy. Harvard Business Review, 78(5), 74–84.Google Scholar
  31. Hansson, F., Husted, K., & Vestergaard, J. (2005). Second generation Science Parks: from structural holes jockeys to social capital catalysts of the knowledge society. Technovation, 25, 1039–1049.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hausman, J., Hall, B. H., & Griliches, Z. (1984). Econometric models for count data with application to the patents-R&D relationship. Econometrica, 52, 909–938.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hunt, S. D. (2001). Commentary—A general theory of competition: Issues, answers and an invitation. European Journal of Marketing, 35(5/6), 524–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lerner, M. (1989). Paternalism and entrepreneurship. The Journal of Behavioral Economics, 83, 149–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Leydesdorff, L., & Meyer, M. (2006). Triple Helix indicators of knowledge-based innovation systems: Introduction to the special issue. Research Policy, 35(10), 1441–1449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Liang, K. Y., & Zeger, S. L. (1986). Longitudinal data analysis using generalized linear models. Biometrika, 73, 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lindelöf, P., & Löfsten, H. (2003). Science Park location and new technology-based firms in Sweden—implications for strategy and performance. Small Business Economics, 20(3), 245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Link, A. N., & Scott, J. T. (2005). Opening the ivory tower’s door: An analysis of the determinants of the formation of the U.S. spin-off companies. Research Policy, 34(3), 1106–1112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lockett, A., & Wright, M. (2005). Resources, capabilities, risk capital and the creation of university spin-out companies. Research Policy, 34, 1043–1057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Löfsten, H., & Lindelöf, P. (2002). Science parks and the growth of new technology-based firms—Academic–industry links, innovation and markets. Research Policy, 3, 859–876.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lumpkin, J. R., & Ireland, R. D. (1988). Screening Practices of New Business incubators: The evaluation of critical success factors. American Journal of Small Business, 12, 59–81.Google Scholar
  42. McAdam, M., & McAdam, R. (2008). High tech start-ups in University Science Park incubators: The relationship between the start-up’s lifecycle progression and use of the incubator’s resources. Technovation, 28, 277–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mian, S. A. (1996). The university business incubator: A strategy for developing new research/technology-based firms. The Journal of High Technology Management Research, 7(2), 191–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mian, S. A. (1997). Assessing and managing the university technology business incubator: an integrative framework. Journal of Business Venturing, 12, 251–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mian, S. A. (2011). University’s involvement in technology business incubation: What literature and practice tell us? International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 13(2), 113–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mian, S. A. (1994). U.S. university-sponsored technology incubators: An overview of management, policies and performance. Technovation, 14(8), 515–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mian, S. A, Mchirgui, Z, Fayolle, A. & Lamine, W. (2011). The Performance determinants of technology business incubators: A resource based view. In 2011 Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC), June 8–11, Syracuse, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  48. Mian, S., Fayolle, A., & Lamine, W. (2012). Building sustainable regional innovation platforms for incubating science and technology businesses: Evidence from the US and French science and technology parks. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 13(4), 235–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Newbert, S. L. (2007). Empirical research on the resource-based view of the firm: An assessment and suggestions for future research. Strategic Management Journal, 28, 121–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. O’Farrell, P. (1986). Entrepreneurs and industrial change: The process of change in Irish manufacturing. Dublin: IMI.Google Scholar
  51. O’Neal, T. (2005). Evolving a successful university-based incubator: Lessons learned from the UCF technology incubator. Engineering Management Journal, 17(3), 11–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. O’Shea, R. P., Allen, T. J., Chevalier, A., & Roche, F. (2005). Entrepreneurial orientation, technology transfer and spinoff performance of U.S. universities. Research Policy, 34, 994–1009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pavitt, K. (1998). The social shaping of the national science base. Research Policy, 27, 793–805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pena, I. (2004). Business incubation centers and new firm growth in the Basque country. Small Business Economics, 22, 223–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Peteraf, M. A. (1993). The cornerstones of competitive advantage: a resource-based view. Strategic Management Journal, 14(3), 179–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Phan, P. H., Siegel, D. S., & Wright, M. (2005). Science parks and incubators: Observations, synthesis and future research. Journal of Business Venturing, 20, 165–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Powers, J. B., & McDougall, P. (2005). University start-up formation and technology licensing with firms that go public: A resource-based view of academic entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 20, 291–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Ratinho, T., & Henriques, E. (2010). The role of science parks and business incubators in converging countries: Evidence from Portugal. Technovation, 30(4), 278–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Retis. (2011). ‘Annuaire du réseau français de l’innovation’, 2010–2011.Google Scholar
  60. Rothaermel, F. T., & Thursby, M. (2005). University-incubator firm knowledge flows: assessing their impact on incubator firm performance. Research Policy, 34(3), 305–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schwartz, M., & Hornych, C. (2010). Cooperation patterns of incubator firms and the impact of incubator specialization: Empirical evidence from Germany. Technovation, 30, 485–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Scillitoe, J. L., & Chakrabarti, A. K. (2010). The role of incubator interactions in assisting new ventures. Technovation, 30(3), 155–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Scott, W. R. (1995). Institutions and organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  64. Sherman, H. D. (1999). Assessing the intervention effectiveness of business incubation programs on new business startup. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 4(2), 117–133.Google Scholar
  65. Siegel, S., Veugelers, R., & Wright, M. (2007). Technology transfer offices and commercialization of university intellectual property: Performance and policy implications. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 23(4), 640–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Siegel, D., Westhead, P., & Wright, M. (2003). Science parks and the performance of new technology based firms: a review of recent UK evidence and an agenda for future research. Small Business Economics, 20(2), 177–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Smilor, R. W. (1987). Managing the incubator system: Critical success factors to accelerate new company development. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 34(3), 146–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Soetanto, D., & Jack, S. (2013). Business incubators and the networks of technology-based firms. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 38(4), 432–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Squicciarini, M. (2008). ‘Science Parks’ tenants versus out-of-Park firms: Who innovates more? A duration model’, Journal of Technology Transfer, 33, 45–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Teece, D. J., Pisano, G., & Shuen, A. (1997). Dynamic capabilities and strategic management. Strategic Management Journal, 18(7), 509–533. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0266(199708)18:73.0.CO;2-Z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Udell, G. (1989). Loan quality, commercial loan review and loan officer contracting. Journal of Banking and Finance, 13(3), 367–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Voisey, P., Gornall, L., Jones, P., & Thomas, B. (2006). The measurement of success in a business incubation project. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 13(3), 454–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wernerfelt, B. (1984). A resource-based view of the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 5(2), 171–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Westhead, P. (1997). R&D inputs and outputs of technology based firms in science parks. R&D Management, 27(1), 45–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wright, M., Birley, S., & Mosey, S. (2004). Entrepreneurship and university technology transfer. Journal of Technology Transfer, 29(3–4), 235–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wynarczyk, P., & Raine, A. (2005). The performance of business incubators and their potential development in the North East region of England. Local Economy, 20(2), 205–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zouhaïer M’Chirgui
    • 1
  • Wadid Lamine
    • 2
  • Sarfraz Mian
    • 3
  • Alain Fayolle
    • 4
  1. 1.KEDGE Business SchoolTalenceFrance
  2. 2.Toulouse University, Toulouse Business SchoolToulouseFrance
  3. 3.School of BusinessState University of New YorkAlbanyUSA
  4. 4.EM Lyon Business SchoolÉcullyFrance

Personalised recommendations