Parent Universities and the Location of Academic Startups

Academic startups are thought to locate in their parent university’s home region because geographic proximity to a university facilitates access to academic knowledge and resources. In this paper we analyze the importance of a different channel, namely social ties between academic entrepreneurs and university researchers, for the access to academic knowledge and resources, and therefore for the location of the startups. We employ unique data on academic startups from regions with more than one university and find that only the parent university influences academic entrepreneurs’ decisions to stay in the region while other universities in the same region play no role. Our findings suggest that geographic proximity to a university may not per se guarantee access to knowledge and resources; social contacts are additionally required. The importance of social ties implies that academic knowledge and resources are not necessarily local public goods. This holds implications for universities’ role in stimulating regional development.

15. January 2014

Authors S. Heblich Viktor Slavtchev

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