Inventors and entrepreneurs in academia: what types of skills and experience matter?

Pablo D'Este, Surya Mahdi, Andy Neely, Francesco Rentocchini

This paper aims to improve our understanding of the attributes of academic researchers that influence the capacity to contribute to technical advance, by adding to the pool of technological opportunities available to industry or engaging in the exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities. We investigate a number of factors associated with the skills developed by academic researchers. We find that contributions to the pool of technological opportunities and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities involve different sets of skills and expertise of scientists. Our results show that the former is driven by academic scientists' research excellence and discovery of earlier technological opportunities and the latter is driven by previous collaboration with industry partners, scientific breadth and experience of technological discovery.