9 Types of Business Incubators

Jul 5, 2021

When asking “what comes first, the chicken or the egg?” you’re likely to get a variety of answers. Well, when it comes to launching a company, knowing how to grow the egg or the chicken (who knows what comes first) can be tricky for any startup company. 

But, what can harness the entrepreneurial spirit are business incubators. The incubator model takes the “egg,” tucks it in an office space or commercial kitchen, and offers everything from management training to providing sources of finance. 

The whole idea is that new businesses need a safe place to grow, learn, and launch. At the end, when the chickling hatches, the company is ready to walk on its own. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. 

Before the end goal of independence, the startup needs to find the right business incubator. There are a few different types of business incubators to consider.

Types of Business Incubators

Business incubation programs vary from academic institutions to venture capital firms. Since the inception of incubators, companies in every stage of development have found growth under the wing of incubators. 

Venture Capital Incubators

It seems like venture capital firms are the latest buzzword in the business world. They view incubators as an opportunity to make money. They invest in new companies or offer funding in exchange for a stake or equity in the company. Venture capital firms may also connect management teams with angel investors and financial management as part of their incubation package.

Startup Studio

Startup studio, also known as startup foundry or startup factory, focuses on creating multiple businesses in a row. It works with startups in the earliest stages (think of an idea on a napkin) and provides mentorship and planning to get the idea off the ground. 

Startup studios also bring together executives or experts to help direct and run the startup from the beginning. They also have different types within the startup model, including investor studios and builder studios. 

Seed accelerators

Seed accelerator or startup accelerator is similar to an incubator but with a few distinct differences. The main one being that members are on a fast-track program with a fixed timeline that culminates into a pitch day.  

While anyone can apply to the programs, invitations are highly competitive and can be privately or publicly funded. They accept all kinds of companies, from ones focused on research and technology to business finance. 

Corporate Incubators

Corporate incubators are a kind of seed accelerator, also referred to as a corporate accelerator. Big companies create accelerators as subsidiaries or programs based in-house that want to capitalize on the idea that innovation comes from newcomers. They provide office space, funding, mentorship, and collaboration for startups. 

Kitchen incubators

Just as the name implies, kitchen incubators offer entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and chefs the opportunity to develop ideas in a safe place. They offer a kitchen space or commercial kitchen to experiment with specialty foods, create a ghost kitchen concept, or jumpstart a new restaurant. 

Like other business incubators, kitchen incubators nurture and grow “kitchens” from the earliest stages to full launch. Along the way, they offer mentorship, access to funding, and educational opportunities. 

ShiftPixy Labs is a leader in kitchen incubation and ushers in the talent through its ghost kitchen incubator program called Fast Pitchen. Restaurant operators from all walks of experience pitch the incubator and, if accepted, go through a series of targeted challenges to grow the idea to development. The innovative incubation program shows restaurant operators how to succeed and thrive in the competitive restaurant industry. 


Virtual Business Incubators

So far, we’ve been discussing incubators that usually congregate in a shared physical space. Think of it as a chicken sitting on its startup eggs. 

A virtual business incubator works on the same premise of mentorship and development, but instead of being together in the hen house, the collaboration occurs virtually. 

Academic Incubators

Colleges and universities commonly create this type of incubation. They draw on their student body to encourage entrepreneurship while attending school. The idea is that it helps fuel job creation for its graduates and innovation in multiple industries. You can think of this as a more traditional incubator model that’s been around since incubators started in the 1950s.

Social Incubators

A social incubator nurtures candidates who have ideas for businesses making a change in the world. This could be a non-profit organization or a company that wants to build a product to improve the environment or create social change in society.

Medical Incubators

This type of incubator looks for companies focused on medical technologies in the healthcare industry. Taking medical devices or ideas to market can be particularly challenging, and incubators provide the necessary support and mentorship to make this happen. The program can also be an accelerator program with a set period.

Different Stages of Business Incubators

Incubation programs have different stages. The first stage is the application process, which can be simple or more complex depending on the requirements of the incubator. 

Once accepted into the incubator, the startup begins skill development and mentorship. The startup may then have access to funding or loans to boost growth potential. This time in the incubator offers networking opportunities and targeted goals to complete, as the company works to bring an idea or product to market. 

The last stage is graduating from the program, and this can mean a demo day or pitch to venture capitalists or investors. The “chick” is now ready to explore beyond the collaborative world of the incubator. 

Now Is The Time

There are a few different types of business incubators, but the right one for you is the one that offers you the resources and tools for the success that you need. The time is now to take the leap. Download the ShiftPixy app to start your application. In a few clicks, you’re on your way.