Business Incubators: What Is It, How to Start It & Examples

Business incubators
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The thought of starting a business may seem interesting, but you can fail if you don’t have the prerequisite. There are several types of businesspeople: those who have a business idea but little funding, those with little entrepreneurial knowledge, and those in need of assistance. One of the reasons this group of people fail is that they are not aware of what business incubators are and how they might benefit them in their various businesses.

As a prospective entrepreneur, you require some fundamental necessities and mentoring on launching your business. Business incubators assist entrepreneurs who have brilliant ideas but inadequate funding into achieving their goals. A business incubator focuses on helping entrepreneurs and turning an idea into a real thing or business. Continue reading to learn more about business incubators, their types, benefits, and examples.

What Are Business Incubators?

Business incubators are business assistance programs that offer entrepreneurs a low-cost start-up setting as well as a variety of administrative, advising, and networking services. It was designed to provide startups and emerging businesses with all the resources they require under one roof.

These business incubators frequently give resident businesses access to professional advisors, mentors, administrative help, office supplies, training, and/or possible investors in addition to a desk or office. These initiatives act as incubators for new firms:

  • Colleges and universities.
  • Local governments.
  • For-profit corporations.
  • Economic development organizations.

How Does Business Incubators Work?

Typically, alliances or cooperation between several organizations result in the formation of business incubators. They are frequently major organizations looking to invest in start-ups they believe have the potential to succeed.

Startups and independent business owners that want to expand their enterprises greatly benefit from these incubators. Business incubators can help with a variety of economic and socioeconomic demands, such as generating new businesses and jobs, expanding existing ones, hastening their growth, and boosting the confidence of aspiring entrepreneurs. There are five categories of business incubators that make up the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) and they include:

  • Academic institutions
  • Non-profit development organizations
  • For-profit organuzation
  • Venture capital films
  • And a combination of the above.

History and Development of Business Incubator

Business incubator did not have a name until 1959. This was when Joseph Mancuso acquired an industrial warehouse in Genesee County, New York. The Industrial Centre, the name of this warehouse, started assisting neighborhood stores and enterprises. Similar businesses quickly appeared all throughout the Nation, and by 1985 there were more than 70 of them, much like Mancuso’s warehouse. In the Northeast, early incubator programs originally emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The increase in number of business incubators across the United States can be linked to the following causes:

  • Increase in entrepreneurship.
  • Corporate downsizing.
  • New technologies.
  • Increase in the involvement of educational institutions.

But, modern-style programs did not appear on the scene until the 1970s and early 1980s. As statistics and personal accounts of the efficacy of incubators for both entrepreneurs and the incubators themselves emerged in the 1990s, the number of incubators grew rapidly

About 70% of the incubators that were operational in the late 1990s were maintained by local or economic development organizations. These organizations employ incubators as a strategy to accelerate regional economic development or lessen the effects of significant layoffs and other unfavorable economic news. The rest are run by academic institutions or for-profit companies. These initiatives are available across a wide range of demographic areas, including both urban and rural settings.

Examples of Business Incubators

Today, there are numerous examples of small and major business incubators across the nation. They include:

#1. Techstars

Techstars is an international network of company incubators with its main office in the US. It was established in 2006. Since its foundation, it has assisted more than 2,000 businesses and has offices in more than 20 countries.

#2. Y Combinator

Almost 2,000 firms have been launched with the aid of this well-known Silicon Valley startup incubator. It offers access to its network of investors, mentorship, and seed money.

#3. Startupbootcamp:

Startupbootcamp is one of the largest networks of business incubators with more than 20 programs offered globally,. It offers investment opportunities, mentorship, and access to its network of business partners.

#4. The Brandery

The Brandery is a business incubator in Cincinnati that specializes in working with start-ups in the consumer products industry. It gives access to its network, resources, and mentoring.

#5. ZX Ventures

This is a US-based company that supports companies in a range of industries, from consumer goods to FinTech and innovation. The Ventures portfolio comprises various household appliances and automated minibars for serving drinks.

#6. Launch Academy

This is a hybrid incubator/accelerator located in Canada. Launchpad is one of its offerings, a training and mentoring program for high-tech start-ups, while VR/AR Hub gives start-ups a workspace as well as access to knowledge, resources, and funding. Yet, regardless of the particular business incubation program, there are costs associated with joining Launch Academy members.

#7. Innovate Calgary of the UK

This is found at the University of Calgary. They work with the government and serves as a model for business incubators. Innovate Calgary offers licensing, intellectual property management, research, technology, and advertising services to support startups from idea development through commercialization.

#8. Faster Capital

This business incubator is based in Dubai. It combines the roles of an accelerator and a business incubator. The latter offers investment in design, marketing, sales, and product development while the former entails mostly theoretical assistance in developing an MVP and achieving a regular income. In either scenario, fast capital pays up to 50% of total costs.

Types of Business Incubators

There are numerous distinct business incubators, each of which specializes in a specific industry sector. Maybe they concentrate on a specific kind of business model. Each incubator gets its name from its particular area of focus. The following are some typical types of business incubators:

#1. Business Incubator for Technology

Science and technology-focused start-ups are the focus of technology business incubators, which specialize in supporting them. They offer a range of services, oversight, and financial support, just like other incubators, but they frequently obtain all of these things from the government.

Technology incubators, for instance, are common in China and India and operate under specific state plans for economic development.

#2. Business Incubator for Startups

A start-up business incubator, as the name suggests, focuses solely on start-ups, which are projects that are in the early stages of development. These incubators are typically created to address issues unique to startups, such as locating a location to rent, creating a strategy, picking a team, etc. In this instance, a small business incubator’s objective is to stabilize its “mentee” before releasing it to the open market.

These incubators are typically nonprofit institutions that frequently work in conjunction with universities or business schools, which are the places where start-ups are most likely to occur. Also, they provide unique graduate programs that get government funding.

#3. Virtual Incubator for Businesses

A virtual business incubator is an incubator that provides its services and assistance to companies remotely. This means that all communication with the firm and its growth happens online, for instance by giving it access to business schools’ digital libraries and online marketing courses. These incubators could even operate entirely online and without a physical location.

The original incubator model from the 1950s called for entrepreneurs to establish themselves there. The virtual model emerged in the 1990s with the development of the internet.
This made it possible for businesses to get all of the assistance and guidance incubators offered. Yet they weren’t required to be present in person at the incubator company. For business owners who wished to remain on their own website while still receiving guidance, this represented a significant advancement.

#4. Social Incubator

Only minority or underprivileged groups are supported by these incubators, such as women’s start-ups, youth start-ups, catastrophe victims, etc. These incubators are run under the direction of public authorities or nonprofit organizations.

#5. Kitchen Incubator

The food business is the focus of a kitchen incubator. Specialty foods are frequently produced in very small quantities yet have significant value, therefore building a commercial kitchen from scratch requires a sizable investment. The typical food business entrepreneur needs a sizable sum of money before they can even begin producing their product, thus they usually won’t start turning a profit for a while.
The use of kitchen incubators can help culinary enterprises get an edge. giving them access to rooms and inexpensive cooking appliances. By assisting with marketing, packaging, and sales of their products, they also support the growth of earnings.

#5. Public Incubator

This incubator has the general public as its target audience. They give social entrepreneurs the resources they require to grow their companies. Charities are an example of a typical public company, and they require assistance because many of them are not for profit. As a result, they require greater business acumen to survive.

#6. Health Incubator

A business incubator that specializes in biomaterials and medical technology is known as a health incubator. This kind of incubator will concentrate on new businesses that have entered the medical sector. Medical firms must always be at the forefront of innovation since medicine is constantly changing, expanding, and getting better. As a result, this kind of incubator is perfect for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in the medical sector.

How to Start a Business Incubator

Do you wish to begin a business incubator? Do the following:

#1. Evaluate the State of the Market and the Needs of the Entrepreneur

There are a few top-notch incubation facilities in the nation, but there is frequently a sector to enter. Some, however, find it difficult to maintain a complete occupancy of their space. When considering opening an incubator, be aware of the market conditions. Provide answers to issues such as whether there is a need for incubators, where the incubators will come from, and what the startup and ongoing costs would be.

Another thing to consider is what entrepreneurs actually want from an incubator:

  • is its access to affordable office space, internet, and electricity (the tangible benefits of an incubator) or
  • the spirit to work with fellow entrepreneurs, the chance to meet investors, the chance to access quality manpower, and the chance to work with experienced advisors? (the intangible benefits of an incubator).

By doing this, you’ll be able to pinpoint your clients’ (entrepreneurs) actual problem points and provide the best possible solutions. Why you want to build up an incubation center is a crucial question to ask.

#2. List the Team Members and Service Providers.

The true test is in the execution, even while it may sound great to have an incubator that links entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, trainers, students, and faculty. Since they will be the ones driving the incubator while the incubators are driving their own businesses, the management team for the incubator must be world-class.

The incubation management should always have a group of advisers who can provide guidance on strategic matters. These advisors should ideally be a mixture of industry experience, academics, and investors.

#3. Make Resource Plans.

Resources are needed to start a business incubation center during construction and operation. This is a list of a few of them:

  • Internet
  • Telephone
  • Electrical connectivity
  • Data center
  • Maintenance
  • Security services
  • Space
  • Furniture – chairs, tables, and cubicles

Examples of IT infrastructure and support include:

  • LAN
  • Leased lines
  • Wi-fi
  • Printers
  • Scanners
  • Computers
  • Access control systems
  • Softwares

Additional examples include boardrooms, meeting spaces, coffee shops, and restaurants.
All of this has a price tag, and the administration of the business incubation center must find the necessary resources in terms of money, labor, and time. It is wise for a person or an organization to set up a project team to tackle the assignment in a systematic way. Government assistance offers some subsidies in this direction but at a price.

Establishing industry ties is crucial after the incubation center is operational—possibly even before the first startup begins to operate. This may involve speaking with local business owners, attorneys, CPAs, trade groups like CII, FICCI, Nasscom, or the media (TV, print, etc.), as well as other ecosystem players like investors. Due to being very inwardly focused, many incubators are unable to deliver for themselves or for their portfolio companies.

#5. Create an Activity Schedule.

A schedule of events must be created in order to maintain the incubator powered up at all times. Sometimes holding training sessions, mentor gatherings, expert presentations, career fairs, product showcases, technology demonstrations, etc. fosters community growth and creates a fantastic network effect.

#6. Find, Choose, Keep, and Manage Startups

Last but not least, entrepreneurs are an incubator’s main driver for being. The group must consider strategies for drawing in, choosing, keeping, and managing companies that live on their planets.

It’s crucial to have well-defined selection criteria. For instance, the majority of college-based incubators only accept their own alumni and students. To prevent disappointment, it is crucial to convey the same in advance. The portfolio companies of a government-supported incubator also benefit from a service tax rebate, which helps to draw in new business owners.

Small Business Incubators

A small business incubator is a cooperative initiative for start-up businesses that is typically physically based in a single central workspace. Its goal is to support startups in their early stages by offering workspace, seed funding, mentoring, and training in order to help them succeed.
Startup incubators are often nonprofit businesses that are frequently connected to colleges and business schools. They invite local residents, including students, graduates, and other community members, to participate in the program.

Which Business Incubator Is Best?

A few well-known business incubator initiatives are Y Combinator, TechStars, Excelerate Labs, and 500 Startups.

How Do Business Incubators Make Money?

The majority of the time, incubators operate on a fee basis rather than acquiring an equity part in the firm. At this point, incubators receive funding from entities like universities or local governments. For-profit incubators, on the other hand, will seek to receive shares in the business in return for their assistance or startup funding.

Who Runs Business Incubators?

Economic development agencies fund around one-third of company incubator programs. Governmental organizations (such as counties or cities) make up 21% of program sponsors. Another 20% are supported by academic institutions, such as universities, technical institutes, and two- and four-year colleges.

What Is the Goal of Business Incubators?

The aim of business incubators is to offer required assistance, financial support, and technical services to startups. They also aid in the development and expansion of young businesses.

In Conclusion,

Regardless of the company model, a business incubator offers a variety of help to fledgling enterprises at various phases of development. The incubator’s role is to provide the start-up business with a variety of services and expertise at no cost in order to aid in its recovery. It might begin by creating the business concept and work toward commercializing it.


What is a benefit of business incubators?

Business incubators provide a lot of benefits to startups businesses and entrepreneurs. The incubation process enables business owners to protect their cash and obtain outside assistance to hasten the growth of their enterprises. The Enterprise Center recognizes each entrepreneur’s individuality through business incubation and provides support and specialized services to enhance each business’ potential.

What are the 3 key factors that make a good business incubator?

The current study’s empirical findings support the theory that the success of business incubators is strongly correlated with three key factors: the availability and accessibility of outside financial resources, the strength of social and professional networks, and internal strength, including resources and capabilities.

How do incubators help startups?

A startup’s growth from an early-stage idea to a self-sufficient business is assisted by an incubator company. Office space, administrative tasks, education and mentoring, access to investors and funding, idea generating, and other services are all supplied by incubators.

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