Working Papers

Divergent Paths or Stepping Stones

A Comparison of Scientists' Advising and Founding Activities


This paper investigates the difference in the profiles of university scientists who have founded or advised companies. We analyzed commercial activities of a sample of 6,138 university life scientists and found that the profiles of scientists who become academic entrepreneurs are different from those who become company scientific advisors. Founding activity occurs earlier during a scientist’s career cycle than advising. Factors such as gender, research productivity, social networks and employer characteristics also shape the propensity of founding and advising in different patterns. In addition, regression analysis shows that being a company scientific advisor decreases the risk of becoming an academic founder. Overall, evidence from our analysis suggests that founding and advising are two divergent paths for commercially oriented university scientists.