Results

Understanding how academic knowledge is transferred to market, and being able to quantify its impact, is critical for researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, and ultimately for public policy. The goal of the TASTE project is to unveil how knowledge-transfer-activities unfold and to quantify their impact on individuals, firms and ultimately public wealth. 

The research project has originated the TASTE database, which includes time-variant information on the population of 55,000 academics, employed by the 2,400 departments of the 95 Italian universities, between 2000 and 2014. The database also stores multilevel, longitudinal information on their 1,100 academic spinouts and 5,500 shareholders/directors, as well as their patenting activities. This data is complemented with information on the characteristics and entrepreneurial support mechanisms of the 20 Italian regions. The TASTE database represents one of the few existing efforts, aimed at systematically assess the impact of university research in a country, adopting a multi-level, longitudinal, population-based approach. For descriptive statistics and data overview, please refer to the technical report “Fifteen Years of Academic Entrepreneurship in Italy: Evidence from the Taste Project”.

The results of the TASTE project have implication for both management theory and public policy. For instance, they contribute to shed lights on how scientists, by signaling their engagement in knowledge-transfer activities, might increase the likelihood of being promoted. The results also show how the evolution of entrepreneurial team diversity influences the performance of spin-off firms. Finally, they also highlight how the exposure to different institutional logics affects scientists’ engagement in knowledge-transfer activities. 

As of May 2016, the publications originated by the TASTE project have appeared in leading management and entrepreneurship journals. The TASTE project’s results have also being used as a common-ground for three journals’ special issues, to be published in Academy of Management Perspectives (2017), Journal of Management Studies (2018) and R&D Management Journal (2018). Finally, the results have originated a book, entitled “Process approach to academic entrepreneurship: evidence from the globe”, published by World Scientific Publishing.

The results of TASTE project have been disseminated in both scientific endeavours and policy-making arenas. Throughout the project duration, the research team has presented its work at more than forty international conferences. The principal investigator has been invited to present the research outcomes at twelve world-class institutions in Asia, Australia, EU and USA, giving also four research keynote speeches in Brisbane, Porto and Singapore, as well as seventeen talks in policy-making arenas.

Finally, the TASTE database, since 2014, has been used by ANVUR, the Italian agency for the evaluation of university research, as the starting point for the national evaluation of the external engagement by Italian academics, in reference to the 'Chapter on Academic Spin-off' (see MIUR - ANVUR - SUA-RD - Third Mission).