Entrepreneurial behaviour and the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems under uncertainty: essays on regenerative medicine venturing at the university-industry boundary
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Entrepreneurial ecosystems are an important economic consideration but remain an understudied phenomenon. In particular, research emphasising the role of the entrepreneur within entrepreneurial ecosystems is scant. Entrepreneurial universities, particularly the commercialisation activities by academic entrepreneurs, contribute to both the emergence and development of entrepreneurial ecosystems at the university-industry (U-I) boundary. Yet, an understanding of the links between university characteristics and micro-level cognition on entrepreneurial ecosystems remains limited. Furthermore, it is not clear how the dynamics of entrepreneurial ecosystems differ across different national geographies. Venture development at the U-I boundary is difficult and uncertain. Entrepreneurs must make decisions under intense ambiguity and make sense of the highly uncertain situation. Nowhere is this more evident than in knowledge and technology-intensive sectors, where venturing relies on entrepreneurial coping responses to uncertainty. However, little is known about how entrepreneurs cope with uncertainty, especially when uncertainty is irreducible. To progress understanding of entrepreneurial behaviour amidst uncertainty, and the emergence and development of entrepreneurial ecosystems at the U-I boundary, this PhD thesis investigates venturing in the field of regenerative medicine (regenmed). This is a particularly suited study context since regenmed commercialisation activities, which are driven by university-based stem cell research, are highly uncertain and the industry is still in a formative stage. This PhD thesis explores entrepreneurial behaviour amidst uncertainty and the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems at the U-I boundary. The thesis comprises of three empirical studies (essays) that can be read independently, however, together the essays provide an enhanced understanding of entrepreneurial behaviour and the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems at the U-I boundary. Essay 1 reveals how ecosystem participants make sense of venturing processes in a highly uncertain, technology-intensive field. It highlights the development of coping strategies during the sensemaking process, and illustrates an association between university entrepreneurial culture and coping strategies. A model of sensemaking process under uncertainty is presented and a typology of sensemaking types in uncertain ecosystems is proposed. Essay 2 is a cross-national study of entrepreneurial ecosystems in Edinburgh (UK) and Madison (USA). The study investigates the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems around two research-intensive universities, which have a long history in stem cell innovation. The essay highlights the effects of cultural artefacts on microlevel behaviours. The influence of behaviour and cognition on the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems is modelled. This reveals different development paths for similar ecosystems. Essay 3 explores the emergence and development of entrepreneurial ecosystems, and considers how these help drive technology-based economies. More specifically, the study explores technology transfer and contextual factors across three regenmed ecosystems (Edinburgh, Madison, and Moscow) to reveal the emergence of entrepreneurial ecosystems at the U-I boundary. Findings show that ecosystem and venture characteristics emerge from institutional characteristics, micro-level cognition and regional context. Additionally, university culture and entrepreneurial coping strategies generate a typology for spinouts within the ecosystem. Collectively, these three essays reveal novel phenomena explaining how ecosystem actors make sense of uncertainty and how this influences the emergence of entrepreneurial ecosystems at the U-I boundary. Additionally, they reveal the importance of context in the venturing process and in entrepreneurial ecosystem dynamics. This provides important contributions to theories of entrepreneurial behaviour, entrepreneurial ecosystems and technology transfer. These scholarly contributions impart important practical implications.