Recognising Scientific Entrepreneurship in New Zealand
To increase wealth and well-being, New Zealand needs to both increase the productivity of its traditional economic base and grow new economic sectors in a competitive global marketplace. Innovation underpins both of these objectives and the combination of Research, Science and Technology (RS&T) and entrepreneurship has the potential to make a particularly potent contribution since it can create new, knowledge-based sectors with sustainable competitive advantage. However, a review of the literature and documentary analysis of aspects of the New Zealand RS&T system shows that commercialisation tends to be based on mental models which conceptualise RS&T and entrepreneurship as separate realms and are more appropriate for existing economic sectors than for new ones. The origins of these existing mental models are explained and they are critiqued from a human capital perspective. A subset of human capital theory is used to derive an alternative, competency-based model of scientific entrepreneurship. The competency-based model is included in a methodological framework for interviewing key respondents engaged in the commercialisation of products and services arising from scientific research. Using a grounded theory approach to analysis, an expanded metacompetency model of scientific entrepreneurship is developed and it is argued that adoption of this model will better enable recognition of scientific entrepreneurship, leading to its increased incidence and consequently higher levels of innovation in the New Zealand economy. The implications of these findings for national innovation policy and the management of RS&T are discussed. Conclusions are also drawn on the efficacy of the methodology used, both for the purposes of the current research and for other public policy questions. Finally, suggestions are made as to further avenues of research indicated by the findings.