On the role of value-network strength as an indicator of technology-based venture's survival and growth
Technology-based ventures provide an important route for successful technology transfer. Their founders are supported in successful technology commercialization by innovation intermediaries. Accordingly, the performance of an innovation system, at least to some extent, depends on the efficiency of these intermediaries in terms of the impact of their scarce resources on the survival and growth of technology-based ventures. To increase their efficiency, intermediaries typically optimize their “intake” by requesting a formal business plan to base their selection on as a hygiene factor. Thus, some scholars argue that written business plans show significant distortion as being produced only to attract support from innovation intermediaries. Accordingly, they rarely serve for these addressees as a source of information for analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of ventures, in order to derive actionable conclusions and more effectively support ventures. Addressees search for different indicators in business plans for their evaluation. The descriptions of these indicators only evince little empirical proof for the performance of technology-based ventures. This gap is herein addressed, in contrast to the lacking empirical insight, as the most frequently produced artifact of early-stage technology ventures is at the same time a written business plan. This paper addresses this gap by conceptualizing transaction relations described in the written business plan as a means for working around the inevitable inaccuracies and uncertainties that delimit the explanatory abilities of the snapshot model presented by a business plan. Using a qualitative content analysis, we derive from the descriptions of transaction relations in a written business plan valid indicators for the maturity of the venture’s value-network in different dimensions. To this extent, this paper presents the findings from a pre-study that was conducted based on a sample of forty business plans from an overall population of 800 business plans in a longitudinal sample from one of Europe’s most active innovation systems, the regional State of Baden-Württemberg. Such findings may be used by innovation intermediaries to enhance their efficiency, by enabling these to not only derive individual support strategies for business acceleration but also to analyze the impact of support measures by reliably monitoring maturity progress in venture activities.