University spinoffs face the difficult challenge of converting complex knowledge of embryonic technology developed in basic sciences to a viable product. Greater inventor involvement could help facilitate the transformation of basic technologies into products, and hence lead to better venture performance. However, very scant systematic evidence exists for the premise that inventor-involvement indeed enhances university spin-off growth performance and increases survival rates. The only related study, to our knowledge, has focused on the commercialization of inventions from a single university (MIT) (Agrawal, 2006).

In the face of market- and stakeholder pressures, spin-offs often need to adapt their development strategy, which requires broader access to inventor-knowledge. Firms that do not offer any products with the latest technology risk having an obsolete set of offerings and ultimately wane. We therefore hypothesize that the inventors’ involvement ensures access to tacit knowledge that is available for near-future development of the technology towards market needs, and allows the spin-off firm to grow faster. In addition, we hypothesize that inventor-involvement may not only add to the efficiency of the adapting organization, but also have legitimizing effects that help the venture overcome its liability of newness, thus improving its survival chances.