The paper focuses on the research university as a driver of local development for research-based clusters. It highlights that success in building a local high technology cluster does not come from research competence alone, but depends critically on the governance of the cluster by the university’s institutions and policies. In particular, academic excellence is an important factor in promoting local development, but is not sufficient on its own. As attested to by the University of Waterloo, a university with a strong focus on entrepreneurship and supportive IP policies can achieve greater success in producing spin-off firms than other much more highly ranked universities. Some key policy recommendations to support the development of research-based clusters in Italy can be inferred from the study. First, not only world class universities, such as Cambridge, MIT, and Stanford, are capable of success in generating high technology spin-offs. Second, universities that are successful in technology transfer typically have a consolidated experience of institutional support for this activity.
Keywords: Spin-off universitari, trasferimento di tecnologia, cluster di ricerca, sviluppo locale
Jel Code: O32, I23, R58