The Role of Academic Spin-Offs Facilitators in Navigation of the Early Growth Stage Critical Junctures

Hanieh Khodaei*, Victor E. Scholten, Emiel F.M. Wubben, S.W.F. Omta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Academic spin-off facilitators support high-tech academic spin-offs and help them to navigate various barriers and critical junctures during their growth stages. In this article we draw on stage-gate models, the path-dependency, and resource based view to identify start-ups' resource needs as perceived by both facilitators and by entrepreneurs. Using qualitative data based on in-depth interviews with 18 academic spin-off facilitators and nine spin-off founders, from three technical universities in the Netherlands, we explore the critical junctures and key support activities. The results show that founders appreciate milestones and direct interface regarding business support, business plan development, and legal support during the early growth stages. In all stages, in particular during the later stages, founders appreciate different type of network support (e.g., start-up network and industry) and when facilitators act as intermediaries to guide them in the network. This helps spin-offs to gain credibility and reach out to the market. This article adds to current research on academic facilitators and in particular incubators by providing a more comprehensive explanation for the low usage of the incubator's resources. By matching key resources and support activities that can navigate particular critical junctures, we try to promote the successful transition from one stage to the other. Our findings offer significant implications, both theoretical and practical, for academic entrepreneurship literature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21779935
Pages (from-to)1769-1780
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Academic spin-off (ASO)
  • critical junctures
  • growth stages
  • stage-gate model


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