The aim of this work is to examine the nature of academic spin-offs in a specific context: the Emilia-Romagna region (Italy). More specifically we investigate the individual reasons as to explain why scientists create academic spin-offs and how the creation process unfolds. Most economics and management literature on the topic considers the technological characteristics of such a choice, although recently the individual motivations behind the creation of such ventures have been investigated. However, less attention has been paid to the social and contextual dimensions of the matter. This study relates contextual characteristics to individual motivation. In particular it is argued that the funding constraints of the Italian academic environment, the low level of demand for doctorate holders within the Italian public and private sectors and the presence of favourable supporting policy tools in the region analysed, play a fundamental role in shaping the individual motivation of scientists in choosing this option. By way of a multiple case study research this work provides evidence that the academic spin-off in Emilia-Romagna is, for young scientists, a way to escape the bottlenecks of the Italian academic system allowing them to work in their field of expertise. This paper builds on the research regarding individual reasoning underlying personal decisions to create an academic spin-off and the need to analyse the phenomenon in relation to its context. Finally some policy implications are put forth.
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