Innovation, entrepreneurship and networks: the case of the Incubator of the University of Campinas (INCAMP)
Purpose: The Technology Business Incubator literature stresses that networks are deemed essential for innovation and entrepreneurship to take place. As such, different authors have studied networks at incubators, specially investigating the resources acquired by the entrepreneurs and types of ties established. Nevertheless, only a few authors have analyzed network formation and the influence of network features in innovation activities taken by the entrepreneurs. Our paper tries to fill this void by investigating how innovation networks are formed at Technology Business Incubators and how the network features affect these activities. Study design: Our approach is a case study in which we analyze the network of entrepreneurs incubated at the University of Campinas Incubator (INCAMP). We have conducted interviews with entrepreneurs, incubator managers and policy makers. Furthermore, we have analyzed our data using an analytical framework set to investigate network features. Findings: We have found that there are four mechanisms that can lead to network formation at incubators: i) institutional mechanisms; ii) social relations; iii) institutional association; and iv) public policies. Additionally, we show that the strength of ties is related to the type of resources circulating; the level of openness of the network can improve innovation activities; and the lack of ties cause delay to the innovation process. Originality: We apply a novel analytical framework, once developed to analyze Technology Policy, that can help identify features and shortcoming of the networks and, thus, assist incubator managers to create strategies to overcome these issues.