More High-Tech Incubators are Hatching The Buzz


High-tech incubators help support brand new technology businesses in the critical first years. And more and more of these incubators are hatching all over the world.

Your great idea for a high-tech business isn't just of interest to you. It's also interesting to hundreds of high-tech business incubators in North America. They specialize in helping young companies get a strong start. Then, in one to three years, these fledgling companies can fly off on their own.

Incubators offer office space, equipment, hands-on management assistance, financial help and advice under a shared roof. In turn, for-profit incubators get equity and royalties in the company. Incubators may get a big payoff in a company's successful IPO (initial public offering) or big sale.

Incubators are everywhere. The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) has more than 1,900 members in over 60 different countries.

Traditionally, business incubators were run by nonprofit organizations and universities. But lawyers, accountants and other business professionals are eager to get in on the action.

High-tech incubators help not only entrepreneurs, but also the whole community.

"A technology incubator can offer a growing community many things. It offers a means for high-tech companies to grow in the community rather than moving to a larger center," says Sarah Morris. She is the market development manager of InNOVAcorp's business incubation unit.

"It thereby offers employment and a larger tax base. As well, about 80 percent of graduating incubating companies stay in the community. So, when a client firm graduates from an incubation facility, it will most likely move to the industrial park, into downtown or build its own facility.

"There are many young industries that could take advantage of the facilitating role incubators play," Morris adds.

"If incubators help companies get to market faster, they have the added appeal of accelerating the growth of entire industries in an area. Some of the hotter industries include life sciences, agricultural biotech and multimedia."

Lisa Ison is president of the New Century Venture Center. She says that incubators, not only those with a high-tech focus, are a vital part of any community's economic development plan.

"Incubators encourage entrepreneurship by providing affordable and flexible space options and by a lot of hand-holding to start-up companies. Start-ups provide jobs, contribute to the tax base and oftentimes help to revitalize a local economy."

The rapid growth of incubators is certainly newsworthy. Yet, just like new businesses, incubators may have shaky starts. It's difficult to predict if this rapid growth will eventually end with the survival of the fittest.

The incubators that do survive are the ones that will build strong, successful companies. The next giant IT company just may have its humble beginnings in an incubator somewhere right now.

Links

National Business Incubation Association
Insightful articles and info about business incubators

Technology Incubator Resources
Plenty of useful links