From Lab Bench to Innovation: Critical Challenges to Nascent Academic Entrepreneurs

24 Pages Posted: 2 May 2013

See all articles by Roman Lubynsky

Roman Lubynsky

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: May 2013


University research laboratories are important sources of the inventions and discoveries that become significant innovations with broad economic and societal impact. Invention alone is not innovation; innovation is the long, hard work of taking new technologies and bringing them to commercialization. There are many pathways for the dissemination of new knowledge that arises from basic research at universities, ranging from traditional methods such as publication and training students to licensing technology to established firms or new ventures.

One way to transform new knowledge into valuable innovations is for university researchers to undertake the creation of new firms based on their discoveries through academic entrepreneurship. The problem is that university scientists and inventors with a discovery made at a laboratory bench face challenges beyond those experienced by traditional high-technology venture founders: they must finish creating the technology before they can begin using it (Jensen and Thursby, 2001; Pisano, 2006). Academics typically start with inventions so immature that their commercial success cannot be predicted (Jensen and Thursby, 2001).

Academic entrepreneurship is an emerging and developing phenomenon, and there is a growing body of literature about new ventures based on university academic. However, limited research has been directed toward nascent academic entrepreneurs (NAEs) to understand the key challenges of bringing innovations to market. The majority of this work has focused on the institutional experience rather than the academic entrepreneurs and their individual experiences (Rothaermel et al., 2007). Within the broader fields of entrepreneurship and innovation, it has been argued that high-potential startups such as academic ventures should receive particular attention from scholars (Davidsson and Gordon, 2011). The following research addressed this gap.

Nascent academic entrepreneurship involves more than transforming an invention into a commercialized innovation. It is about the genesis of ideas and the emergence of opportunities, the birth of new organizations, their evolution into new companies, and the transformation of scientists into leaders. It also is about providing the foundation for future innovation by others. Though nascent academic entrepreneurship is increasing in frequency, it is not well understood. The dissertation examines this important topic.

Keywords: innovation, nascent entrepreneur, academic, university, entrepreneurship

Suggested Citation

Lubynsky, Roman M., From Lab Bench to Innovation: Critical Challenges to Nascent Academic Entrepreneurs (May 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Roman M. Lubynsky (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

120 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
6173246900 (Phone)


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