Volume 63, Issue 5, pp 703–724
Youth entrepreneurship has gained prominence in recent years, but there are few studies which investigate the characteristics of companies created by students in the university environment (also known as “student spin-off companies”) or the “ecosystem” in which these companies are incubated and “hatched”. In parallel, there is a call for more research investigating the role universities play in the local development of these companies. In practice, there is an increasing demand for universities to interact with and engage in the local context beyond their institutional “walls”. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to understand how universities bring together local partners in support of young entrepreneurs. To this end, the authors conducted a multiple case study which identified the processes, characteristics and actors involved in the formation of these networks. As a theoretical contribution to the development of local entrepreneurship, this article analyses student spin-off companies incubated in universities – a type of business as well as a context still little explored in the literature. On a practical level, it offers insights into potential strategies for improving policies to support youth and student entrepreneurship.