Fast Company

Response to: The Incubator: A Concept That Has Passed its Time

While this story has some merit is also carries with it a number of fallacies.  Having had the opportunity to create a program for a 141,000 sq ft mixed-use facility I have had the opportunity to review and visit programs not only in the US but also around the world.

 For a community to believe that they can simply open a building and have instant success is flawed.  An incubator is a business like any other and has to be run as such.  Community stakeholders must understand what it takes to run a program that will attract companies and create jobs with a long term vision. Some incubators are nothing more than cheap real estate space and provide no services a company can really use.  While the article writer is correct in that many of the things incubators offers are out there many entrepreneurs simply do not know where to go find them.  They also have frequent trouble finding appropriate mentors for their businesses which slows their growth and can lead to mistakes that could be easily avoided with the correct counseling.  As for the assertion that service providers such as attorneys, CPAs, patent serach firms, marketing professionals, international trade reps, web designers and others will not come to an incubator that is also incorrect.  We have all of the above and just over 100 pro bono hours per month donated to our clients.  

 Incubators are a growing trend around the world.  We are partnered with 7 groups in 5 countries to provide support for our companies who wish to sell over seas but also provide a landing spot for foreign companies who wish to enter the US market.  In a global economy entrepreneurs need assistance in connecting far beyond their traditional regional areas.

Finally, the number one thing we hear back from our 37 internal companies is the value in being in a facility surrounded by others going through the same learning process.  Whether is it a food entrepreneur working in our food kitchen, gasoline from alagae researcher in our biotech center or VC backed software firm in our executive offices more similarities than differences exist.  

Yes, incubators should be dead for some communities that do not understand how to properly run them but for those with stakeholders who themselves become educated in the realities of running such programs today there can be many rewards. 

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