In this paper we describe and analyse IP-based spin-offs as a relatively new phenomenon for transferring knowledge from science to industry. We argue that the effectiveness of this mechanism is subject to a complex array of institutional factors. These factors entail national, sectoral, regional and managerial institutions. Based on an indicative comparison between the Netherlands and the United States we find that is especially the combination of national and sectoral institutions that condition whether an IP-based spin-off is established in the first place, whereas regional and managerial institutions condition its subsequent chances of success. We finish by formulating some notions for public policy.