In the previous posts we talked about 7 key service categories of any business incubation program (Key Services of Business Incubation Program (Part 1 of 3)). The main point was – business incubators provide different set of services to their clients. Thus, some become seed accelerators, some typical business incubators with long incubation process (3-5 years), etc. One might ask, what are those particular services that are included into each category of a framework mentioned earlier.
Full List of Services that Business Incubator Could Propose
The main point is to show what are those services and to illustrate complexity of business incubation process.
Ideally we would like to list the whole set of services that any business incubator could propose to clients. To get the whole range of services we used secondary and primary data by analyzing reports and several academic articles, and also interviewing several business incubators (N = 5). The secondary data sources are:
- NBIA report, 2003 of what the most popular business incubators services provided to tenants (by more than 75% of the respondents)
- Joel Wiggins and David V. Gibson, “Overview of US incubators and the case of the Austin Technology Incubator offered by technology incubators”, 2003 (Sample N = 107 )
- Kris Aertsa,,Paul Matthyssens, Koen Vandenbempt, Critical role and screening practices of European business incubators, 2007
- Marina Lavrow & Sherry Sample, Presentation Business Incubation: Trend or Fad?, 2000
- InfoDev, Lessons on Virtual Business Incubation Services Report, 2011
So, below you will find a complete (to some extent of course) list of services that business incubators provide to the tenants. We completely understand that academics would say: “You need to carry out extensive research and have a sample with at least N above 100 or more. Moreover, these services will significantly differ in different part of the world and economies (obviously, needs of entrepreneurs in Brazil or Russia are completely different from the needs of entrepreneur in USA or UK).” Well, we woudn’t argue. If you have something to add, just write us and we will add it to the list if the service provides value.
Many practioners try to understand what are those key success factors that make an incubation program efficient and effective. What are those key must-do services that any business incubator should include out of those (around 100 listed above)? Of course it depends on many factors (industry focus, state of entrepreneurial community, socio-economical conditions, political factors, etc). Researchers Joel Wiggins and David V. Gibson in our view have made a good overview of this issue and proposed top services of top-performing incubators. I have also seen the same work done by almost any associations and prominent researchers (Smilor, Lalkaka, Hakket & Dilts, Campbell, Bergek & Norrman, etc). Many of them tried to establish correlation between incubator services and outcomes they produced. Below you will find a summary of this efforts.
TOP 15 Services that all top-performing incubators provide include:
- Assistance with business basics
- Networking activities
- Marketing assistance
- Accounting and financial management
- Specialized equipment
- High-speed internet access
- Access to venture capitalists, business angels, mentors and strategic partner linkages
- Help with raising bank finance, grants, seed and venture capital
- Shared administrative or office services
- Links to higher educational institution
- Comprehensive business training
- Presentation skills training
- Shadow advisory boards or mentors
- E-commerce assistance
- Human resource training
Bottom 10 services that are provided by business incubators are:
- Logistics Distribution Support/Train
- Loaned Executive
- Economic Literacy
- In-house investment funds
- International Trade
- Business Etiquette
- General legal services
- Advice on recruitment of staff and personnel management
- Help with regulatory compliance
- Access to noncommercial loans
 Small sample was done intentionally because basically we used it to verify secondary data which was obtained before being exhaustive already.