One of the most important reasons for developing university technology business incubators (UTBIs) is to permit the commercialisation of technology and research by setting up new firms to graduate into fully-fledged businesses, which are normally referred to as new technology-based firms (NTBFs). Relying on the resource-based theory (RBT) and incubation models, the present research is concerned with proposing a theoretical framework for the enabling factors that influence the graduation of new technology-based firms (NTBFs) that result from the commercialisation of research and technology through to becoming established businesses from a university technology business incubator (UTBIs). A pragmatic philosophy informed the researcher’s theoretical lens. This involved the use of a multiple case study using mixed methods that entailed the use of both quantitative and qualitative research techniques in the form of semi-structured interviews with the UTBI’s management team. The most significant finding of the research is that there are a number of enabling factors that influence the graduation of NTBFs within a UTBI, the most significant of which are stringent selection and admission criteria, the business support services, financial resources, university entrepreneurial network/ mediation and organisational resources. Each of these factors is grouped into three stages: the pre incubation stage, the incubation stage and the graduation stage. The unit of analysis for this research consists of the management team within three UTBIs located in one of the University of Technology in Gauteng Province. Owing to the nature of the sample, the results may not be representative of the remaining UoTs in Gauteng. The study attempts to link the development of business ideas to factors that influence their progression into graduated businesses.
Key words: Commercialisation, enabling factors, new technology-based firms, University of Technology, university technology business incubators.
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