The Entrepreneurial Commercialization of Science: Evidence from “Twin” Discoveries

David Hsu, Management, The Wharton School, and Matt Marx, Boston University

Abstract: When are scientific advances translated into commercial products via startup formation? Although prior literature has offered several categories of answers, the commercial potential of a scientific advance is generally unobserved and potentially confounding. We assemble a sample of over 20,000 “twin” scientific discoveries in order to hold constant differences in the nature of the scientific advance, thereby allowing us to more precisely examine characteristics that predict startup commercialization. We find that teams of academic scientists whose former collaborators include “star” serial entrepreneurs are much more likely to commercialize their own discoveries via startups, as are more interdisciplinary teams of scientists.

Read the full working paper here (PDF).

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.