The History of Business Incubation (part 1)


The aim of this essay is to trace the evolution of the business incubation concept, to find out main reasons of its occurrence and diffusion across the World, and to present first free business incubation timeline available online to the public. It’s part of research which is carried out by my team and called: “Enriching Innovation Ecosystem: Framework for Virtual Business Incubation Program”. (Framework of the research is published here.)

This essay will be split into 3 parts:

Why is it important to learn about evolution? The history of a phenomenon can give us insights and possibility to predict future development of the industry, it’s forms and shapes, trends, and, finally, mechanisms of development.

Undoubtedly, business incubation evolution can’t be traced without consideration of economic and financial conditions of the leading industrial countries in the world, history of innovations, VC industry evolution and corporations role in the value creation. Every phenomenon contributed and shaped each other. For instance, due to emergence of VC firms back in 1960s and 1970s and new form of capital, as well as because of 1970s energy crisis a lot people lost their jobs. Economies needed new policies toward more “entrepreneurial” strategies. Thus, a whole new class of innovators started to appear. Important role of it’s development could be attributed to business incubation. But to what extent and how realistic those performance indicators of business incubation proving it’s efficiency and effectiveness are (as many government bodies tend to declare)? Well, it’s still controversial and open question…But the aim of current research is to give a holistic view on the topic of Business Incubation Evolution and History.

How we investigated Business Incubation Evolution

In order to do that we used several tools.

First, we applied framework “Stages of Business Incubation Development” which was synthesized from works of Bruneel, Ratinho, Clarysse, Groen, (2012) and Lalkaka (2000). This framework allows to get general understanding of how business incubation evolved, why and what were main value propositions during different periods. The framework consists of the following parts:

Framework for Business Incubation History

Framework for Business Incubation History

Figure 1 – Framework for Business Incubation History Research

Second, statistical data (such as numbers of BIs in the world) will be provided based on the available data from academic publications, reports of associations and information from communities of experts and practice.

Third, Business Incubation Timeline will show main events with dates (or periods), event descriptions and places. We have chosen around 35 main events in history of business incubation and looking forward to expand it after we will collect a feedback on our work.

…to be continued (The History of Business Incubation Part 2)



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