Rum för Entreprenörskap. En studie av universitetsbaserade företagsinkubatorer i Västsverige.
Doctoral thesis, 2006
A university business incubator transfers ideas developed in the academic world to new ventures capable of taking their place in the business world. An important influence in history has been the economic development in Silicon Valley. To create companies from the best ideas emerging from research and education is a component of the trust placed on the academic world to develop commercial activity.
This thesis focuses on the university-based business incubators (UBIs) that have emerged in western Sweden. These 13 incubators, which constitute component parts of the same regional innovation system, are investigated as to when and how ideas from the academic world become new businesses in the incubator and the process of moving away from such. Special attention is devoted to where the business finds its place in the incubator and in the business world.
In this study the activity of the business incubator has been observed as a knowledge process; a meeting between business knowledge and technological know-how within the space provided by the business incubator. The question was how the activities constituting this knowledge process are related to the spatial structure. The aim has been to contribute to knowledge about how the built environment can support incubator activities by drawing attention to the opportunities and problems that those that utilise incubator space have. Furthermore, how this in turn contributes to establishing and changing regional innovation systems.
This task has been carried out by investigating these thirteen business incubators and by formulating texts for publication that discuss the concepts to use and that gradually interpret the findings of the investigation. Firstly, one of the incubators was investigated in depth. Then, based on the observations made here, the remaining twelve were studied.
Interviews and discussions have provided the foundation in these studies. I have taken it in turn to interview business facilitators and entrepreneurs in order to understand how their knowledge is encountered in each incubator. In addition, at meetings, I have had continual discussions with business facilitators and with persons responsible for the built environment and service in the incubators. These meetings have been organised within the framework of a regional network where the aim is to develop competence among those working to provide support for developing the businesses in the incubator.
The findings from the first investigation of one incubator were presented in my licentiate thesis (Strid 2004). I have written six articles for international conferences, three as part of the licentiate work and three as part of the thesis work for the PhD. My studies of the business incubators have their foundation in research on architecture and research related to the establishment of new businesses. This has involved a search to understand both how the built environment interacts with the birth of new companies and how research about space and business activity in general can be connected to the specific activity at the incubator.
The conclusions are that the constructed space is one component of the process of taking ones place that is required in order to establish business praxis. The constructed space also anchors down the innovation system as a support system rather than a business-oriented system. The built environment can also contribute to establishing a broader view on entrepreneurship and innovation systems.
university business incubators
13.00 Hörsal A2, A-huset, Chalmers.
Opponent: Professor Åke Uhlin, Vestfold University College, Norge och Blekinge tekniska högskola, Sverige