HARRISON R. T. and LEITCH C. Voodoo institution or entrepreneurial university? Spin-off companies, the entrepreneurial system and regional development in the UK, Regional Studies. University spin-off companies occupy a prominent position in both government and university policies and aspirations for the commercialization of university research for economic benefit at regional and national levels. However, most university spin-off companies start small and remain small, reflecting founder aspirations, capabilities, and resource endowments. Based on detailed analysis of university spin-offs in Northern Ireland, it is concluded that these companies are technology lifestyle businesses not dynamic high-growth potential start-ups, and it is suggested that the prominence given to spin-offs in the analysis of technology transfer and in discussions of the economic impacts of universities is misplaced.