Startup time, innovation and organizational emergence: A study of USA-based international technology ventures

Abstract

The acceleration of new technology venture launch and growth is an important and rapidly growing field of practice for university-based accelerators, incubators, and technology transfer offices. Based on four comparative case studies of fast-launching clean tech startups in the USA (two of which were university-affiliated), this paper explains how some technology startups are able to develop innovative products, form organizations, internationalize, and release products into global markets very rapidly, and highlights implications for university-sourced ventures. Findings show that two processes, “product emergence” and “organization emergence,” have to be managed strategically, with time as a critical variable to be considered. This paper suggests that there are dynamic tensions between temporal, financial, and human resources in the technology startup process. To start up quickly, the new international technology venture compresses two parallel timelines: product launch and organization launch, which can also accelerate the internationalization process. This study identifies the organizational formation pivot as a risky but necessary transition from a lean, informal, fast-paced technology development project to a structured, legally compliant organization, in the case of a university-sourced venture fully independent from the university that spawned it, that can be trusted for transactions and investment.

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