Some universities and departments have been very successful in stimulating university spin-off firms (USOs). It remains an open question whether this is due to unique abilities and circumstances or if it can be stimulated at many universities. This paper seeks to discuss this question by integrating insights from two separate literatures: academic entrepreneurship and university management. We start by taking the firm’s perspective to understand the challenges faced by USOs and how universities can assist these firms in developing their entrepreneurial competencies. After that we explore why universities might choose to use their scarce resources to support USOs when the main benefits for success are accrued by the spin-off rather than the university. Here we use a stakeholder perspective to suggest how academic entrepreneurship may be seen as universities’ developing service bundles to support an entrepreneurial ecosystem that goes beyond technical and financial support. We suggest a future research and policy agenda arguing for more emphasis on understanding the USO as a university stakeholder, with relationships to a wider stakeholder set, that in turn constitute an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
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