This article provides a critical review and discussion of current literature on technology transfer and academic entrepreneurship. Drawing upon the notion of robustness in social systems and public choice theory, we review, code, and taxonomize 166 studies in order to assess the likelihood that these initiatives will generate innovation and economic growth. We find that academic entrepreneurship initiatives are characterized by conflicting goals, weak incentive structures for universities and academics, and are contextually dependent on several factors, e.g. strong vs. weak universities. Our results therefore suggest that there are critical boundary conditions that are unlikely to be fulfilled when universities and governments enact policies to support academic entrepreneurship. Policymakers therefore need to be cautious in the potential design of such mechanisms. We discuss how technology transfer from universities might be better achieved through alternative mechanisms such as contract research, licensing, consulting and increased labor mobility among researchers.