The Effects of Knowledge Spillovers and Accelerator Programs on the Product Innovation of High-Tech Start-Ups: A Multiple Case Study

Abstract

The knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship (KSTE) explores the effects that new knowledge and proximity have on the exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities and the resultant creation of start-ups. This paper aims to identify the types of knowledge spillovers that affect entrepreneurs in the early stages of start-up development. A conceptual model is proposed, using a multi-case study approach involving high-tech start-ups that have attended accelerator and incubator programs in Greater London, United Kingdom. The research involved 32 semistructured interviews with chief executive officers and cofounders of start-up companies. Our findings suggest that entrepreneurs are influenced by various forms of knowledge spillover which assist in determining the strategic decision of the company, in terms of formation, including partnerships or alliances, allocation of Research and Development budgets, and engagement in product innovation. Further observations confirm that high-tech start-ups focus on a fast pace of constant product innovation to cover identified gaps in the market. One significant finding is that start-ups use various technological platforms to access knowledge spillovers which challenge the ideas of geographical proximity present in existing KSTE understanding.

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