Home > Coller Venture Review > CVR Issue 4 – University Venture > The Uniqueness of Stem Cell Ecosystems Lessons in matching local culture

The Uniqueness of Stem Cell Ecosystems Lessons in matching local culture

Why carelessly copying “best practices” from Stanford or MIT can kill your univenture program

Do you want to copy Stanford or MIT? Heck, everybody wants to BE Stanford or MIT. But after you read this article, you may have second thoughts.

The article looks at three univenture ecosystems dealing with the same leading-edge domain: Stem cell research for regenerative medicine. Case studies of different programs from Wisconsin, Edinburgh and Skolkovo are compared, and the conclusions are that univenture – particularly in the area of regenerative medicine – succeeds best in environments where:

  • The local entrepreneurial ecosystem is supported – with priority over specific inventions
  • Programs prepare entrepreneurs to learn from failure
  • They promote knowledge exchange across boundaries
  • They customize, not copy, in order to fit the local culture

This is a cautionary lesson for those who try to become a new “Stanford” by blindly copying “best practices”. What works in one environment may very well fail in another. Successful collaborations should be locally relevant, not copies of successful models from elsewhere; and policies that support the health of the entire ecosystem, rather than the success of specific innovations, are the most likely to generate long-term benefits.

Full article PDF: 

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About the Authors:

Adam Bock – Associate Professor of Management at Edgewood College
David Johnson – PhD Candidate at University of Edinburgh Business School