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Kauffman funds research on Nashville corporate spin-offs, ecosystem
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Elizabeth Mack PhD

KAUFFMAN Foundation is sponsoring research into Nashville corporate spin-off ventures and the surrounding entrepreneurial ecosystem, and is inviting Nashvillians to participate in a related survey.

Provided adequate local response from Nashvillians, valuable survey results are likely to be available late 2017 and/or early 2018, said Elizabeth Mack, the principal investigator on the project, who is also an assistant professor at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Mack told Venture Nashville that the survey -- which is accessible here -- is but one valuable component of the project.

She said she and her project team plan to conduct intensive online and other research and they will visit Nashville as part of the project. Mack's earlier research suggests that her research model could produce better understanding of Nashville's entrepreneurial ecosystem and forces that are shaping its trajectory, dynamically. A related scholarly article is here (pdf).

Among other things, project findings could be used to help guide economic development, entrepreneurship and/or corporate growth and development, said Mack. Spin-offs are regarded by many communities as a positive indication of economic health and innovation in a region, she added.

When asked by VNC, Mack acknowledged that leaders of spin-offs might be more likely to be people who have been driven by inspiration or innovation, rather than by desperation, to begin a new business.

Desperation more often characterizes startup activity by people with no other immediate employment opportunities, and those desperation startups are generally somewhat less likely to be successful than those born out of innovative impulses. A Kauffman report touching-on the entrepreneurial "desperation" issue in Nashville is here. Other Kauffman notes here.

Kauffman Communication Director Barbara Pruitt told VNC, "This research project is being launched to get a better sense of the unique characteristics of greater Nashville and how its entrepreneurial ecosystem has developed and evolved over time."

Among results of the project, said Pruitt, will be one or more "white paper(s) containing action items and/or policy recommendations supporting the continued development and maintenance of greater Nashville's ecosystem."

"The creation of new firms, often in the form of spinoffs, is an important dynamic in entrepreneurial ecosystems. In this context, spinoffs are defined as firms that are started by former employees of private or public companies, laboratories, universities or federal, state and local governments," Pruitt said.

Pruitt also said the research project will examine "origins and frequency of spinoffs in greater Nashville," will illustrate characteristics of "greater Nashville's ecosystem," and will consider comparative data from some other U.S. metro areas' ecosystems.

Nashville research findings will also be published in academic journals.

And, the project is to include publication of a family tree or spin-off genealogy for Nashville, analogous to the healthcare family tree published by Nashville Health Care Council and so familiar to Nashville-area business people.

Mack said similar projects are underway in Burlington, Vt., and in Albuquerque, N.M. VNC

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Tags: Barbara Pruitt, economic development, Elizabeth Mack, entrepreneurship, Kauffman Foundation, spinoffs, spinouts


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