In this study we assess the relevance of university-level (e.g. specific internal regulations, business plan competitions, university affiliated business incubators and availability of university venture capital funds) and local-context support mechanisms (e.g. availability of public and private research institutions, venture capitalists, business angels, companies operating in the same sector, incubators and science parks) for academic spin-offs creation and early growth established in regions with different levels of local economic development. Previous studies suggest that university-level mechanisms alone might not suffice. Academic spin-offs, in order to grow, should be able to exploit and combine their resources and competencies with external ones and to grasp opportunities offered by the local context in which they operate.