How and why do Research Based Spin-Offs change their Business Model?
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Research based spin-offs (RBSO) are new firms created to commercially exploit knowledge, technology or research results developed within an academic institution. The phenomenon of RBSOs has become an increasingly important way of transferring technology and knowledge from research institutions into commercial value. RBSOs are characterized by their academic origin and their technology is often based on generic research. These characteristics distinguish RBSOs from other start-ups, and influence their development and behavior. RBSOs consistently underperform compared to other spin-offs and a better perception of how RBSOs act and evolve is important to understand why they underperform and how they can overcome their specific challenges.Many researchers as well as our own entrepreneurial experience support that initial strategic decisions are important to future performance and survival. A popular way of describing how firms create, capture and deliver value is through the concept of business models. Hence, knowledge of what influences the choices that lead to a RBSO s initial operational business model and how this may change over time will contribute to a better understanding of how they can improve their performance. With this in mind, part one of this master thesis seeks to contribute to the knowledge of what drivers may lead to different choices regarding RBSOs business model. This is done by an extensive literature study. The second part investigates financial capital as a driver, by tracking the development of 84 Norwegian RBSOs from 2000-2012. This is presented in a second article.Article one is a literature review concerning drivers for choice of business models among RBSOs. Through a systematic literature search we have identified and analyzed the drivers that lead to the choice of specific types of business models. These drivers were categorized into three internal and three external categories. All drivers was analyzed according to their influence on activity based and growth oriented business model types respectively. How and why RBSOs choose to pursue certain types of activity based and growth oriented business models was found to be largely unexplored in the literature. We also found that financial capital, social capital, support from the parent institution and environmental factors are categories of enabling drivers, by providing the possibility for the RBSOs to choose any desirable business model. However, technology characteristics, market/industry conditions and resources are categories of drivers that directly affect the choice of activity orientation of the business model. In addition, we suggest that drivers in the categories financial capital, human capital, technology characteristics, market conditions and founder s mindset influence the choice of growth orientation.Article two empirically investigates how financial capital affect the RBSOs choice of business model, as well as the impact of the change itself. Three hypotheses were investigated in a mixed method approach. Cases of all activity based business model change combinations were found in the sample of 84 RBSOs. Financial capital as a constrainer was found to be dominating. Unsatisfactory financial situation was in particular found to limit which model a firm may change to. In addition, we found that the likelihood of being discontinued was significantly lower for RBSO that had made a business model change compared to others. Further, financial situation was found to have a significant impact on occurrence of activity based business model change, measured over two consecutive years. Lastly, the act of changing business model was found to have a positive impact on firm survival. The framework of drivers for choice of business models proposed in article 1 has shown to be a useful tool in the study in article 2.