New data shows student entrepreneurs are faster to commercialise their inventions

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Students with bright ideas and the hopes of being the next big entrepreneur are said to be faster when commercialising their inventions, a new study has found.

New research from the UCL School of Management has found that student entrepreneurs and faculty entrepreneurs engage in different strategic behaviour in commercialising their inventions, acting quicker than their older, more experienced counterparts.

In a new National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper, assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship Kenny Ching and his and co-authors found that student entrepreneurs are less likely to patent their ideas or protect their innovations compared to faculty entrepreneurs.

At the same time, faculty entrepreneurs dedicate more time to acquiring formal intellectual property protection and protecting their assets but are less agile in their commercialisation activities.

Ching said: “Our analysis suggests that student entrepreneurs, with less time and with less access to university intellectual property institutions, are more likely to choose an execution-oriented strategy. Compared to University faculty, who are more likely to be patient, wait for delayed market entry and pursue a control-oriented strategy with formal protection.”

The research suggests that there is often a trade-off that entrepreneurs have to consider in commercializing their inventions. The dilemma between a control or an execution-based strategy also impacts other entrepreneurial strategic choices such as targeting mass or niche markets.

UK business formation reached another record high in 2016, according to the latest Companies House data, as analysed by the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE)  – with a total of 657,790 new businesses started. This builds on previous records of 608,110 in 2015 and 581,173 in 2014.

The figures show the continued dominance of the UK’s major cities in generating the country’s entrepreneurial dynamism. The combined authorities of London lead with 205,325 businesses registered last year, followed by Birmingham (17,473), Manchester (9,416), Glasgow (7,845) and Leeds (7,645). Edinburgh, Bristol, Liverpool and Brighton also rank among the top 20.

Although there is not a one size fits all for start- up strategy, the researchers suggest that entrepreneurs need to be aware of the different strategic options that are available, for the best performance.

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