The rapid technological progress, together with the mixing of science and technology in the most innovative sectors, have changed the normative frame in which academic researchers commercialise their scientific results, acting as academic entrepreneurs. After a brief description of some sociological theories about knowledge production in the public as well as in the private sphere, the author hypothesizes that two different idealtypes of academic entrepreneur match two distinct technology transfer approaches. The author analyses in a comparative way eight case studies of academic entrepreneurs in the biomedical sector in Europe. The empirical evidence confirms the idealtypes sketched out. Analysing the institutional factors to explain the found differences, the author finds a crucial role of the university involvement in technology transfer process, that depends on the degree of centralisation of the academic system and on the innovativeness of the industrial environment.
Keywords: Academic entrepreneurs, technological transfer, innovation, institutions, academic system, scientific research