Ceris-Cnr, W.P. N° 12/2006 

Il finanziamento delle imprese Spin-off
Un confronto fra Italia e Regno Unito
[The financing of spin-off firms: a comparison between Italy and the United Kingdom]

Elisa Salvador
Ceris-Cnr, National Research Council of Italy
Via Real Collegio, 30
10024 Moncalieri (To) – Italy
Tel.: +39.011.6824.947;  Fax: +39.011.6824.966;
email: e.salvador


This paper aims at examining the university spin-off firms context at present in place in Italy, with particular attention to the relationship with the academic institutions and the problems of financing. In the latest years, more and more attention is devoted to investigate the emergence of the university spin-off phenomenon. There is an increasing focus on universities’ entrepreneurial orientation and their ability to exploit and transfer scientific knowledge to the commercial sector. The present paper is based on a series of interviews held during the period May-July 2005 in several university spin-off firms in Milan, Bologna, Padova and Genova. The paper is divided in two parts. In the first one, after a theoretical background on the spin-off literature, it follows a general description of the United Kingdom context and the Italian university spin-off firms framework and their characteristics. The second part is focused on an analysis of the spin-off firms interviewed. The results highlight positive and negative factors in the relationship between university institutions and spin-off firms. Furthermore, the relationships with banks and venture capitalists are investigated. The interviews highlighted a lack of competencies in the financial sector and a general negative opinion on venture capital. Italian university spin-off firms have difficulties in negotiating good conditions with banks and are afraid to trust in venture capitalists. Besides, Italy doesn’t have an effective business angels network and it lacks seed capital. Therefore they prefer to count on the classical three Fs, “family, friends and fools”, to raise capital for their business. Notwithstanding, Italian university spin-off firms are characterised by a very high know-how background and a great desire of independence. In conclusion, Italy is just at the beginning in developing the university spin-off phenomenon. Most universities emanated spin-off regulations only in recent years. There is significant potential for the Italian university spin-off firms to play a bigger, more enhanced role in the creation of new jobs in the future, and in supporting technology transfer.


Keywords: University spin-offs, Technology transfer; Venture capital

JEL Codes: O3; L2


Il presente lavoro è stato finanziato dalla Regione Piemonte, nell’ambito del Programma Operativo F.S.E. 2000-2006 Obiettivo 3, e svolto in collaborazione con Rete Ventures s.c.r.l., Torino, sotto la supervisione del dottor S. Rolfo (Direttore Ceris-CNR) e del dottor P. Muller (Direttore Rete Ventures s.c.r.l.).


Ringraziamenti. L’autrice ringrazia tutte le imprese intervistate per la disponibilità dimostrata durante le interviste. Un ulteriore ringraziamento va al dottor Andrea Berti (Università di Padova, area Trasferimento di Tecnologia) e all’Associazione Italiana del Private Equity e Venture Capital (AIFI).

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