Business Incubator Models, Entrepreneurship and Approaches

Jun 30, 2021

group discussion of business in an incubator setting

Starting a business is brave. Yet finding the right tools and resources is challenging, even for the fiercest entrepreneurial spirit. But this is where business incubators can fill the gap. Incubators, whether for ghost kitchens or individuals, match innovation and entrepreneurship with collaboration and capital. 

But like anything else, there are different business incubation programs, and thriving in the innovation ecosystem is understanding the models, entrepreneurship, and approaches.
 

What is a Business Incubator?

The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) describes business incubators as places that offer shared tools for startup companies, including office space, mentorship, and education. Incubator networks may also provide connections to financial services and opportunities to meet venture capitalists or angel investors. 

Business incubators offer a safe place for any new venture to develop concepts, experiment, and grow before becoming independent. All business incubated concepts have the end goal of producing and nurturing successful companies.

Incubator vs. Accelerator

It’s easy to overlap an incubator and accelerator into the same business incubator model. Both offer entrepreneurs resources for growth early on in business development but have fundamental differences. 

An incubator manager usually takes on new concepts in the early stages and provides means for growth and business innovation. Accelerators offer these same benefits but on a shorter, more “accelerated” time frame. The existing business may be more established and need to only build on current products and services. In comparison, an incubator takes on companies from day one. 

Accelerators may also provide seed money or initial investment in the startup concept. They can also be a little more selective, along with expecting results in a short time. 

Different Business Incubator Approaches

The business incubator model has different approaches within the concept. The type of business incubator includes industry-specific models and academic institutions. 

Harvard Business, for example, has an incubator program that helps with job creation and connection to resources for current students and graduates. But only select entrepreneurs have this business opportunity, so looking for ones that match your type of business gives you the best result.

Technology Business Incubators

Technology incubation helps technology-based companies grow and evolve into actual technological businesses. They facilitate startups from the initial stages to becoming independent entities. Like all incubators, entrepreneurs may have free rent and access to experts that give the business an edge. 

Health and Medical Incubators

This type of incubator accepts startups focused on the health and medical industries. Healthcare incubator funding can come from public or private entities. Sometimes these are cohort-based programs and include expert mentorship and curriculum that culminates in a demo day or public pitch event. 

Virtual Business Incubators

It seems that everyone has gone virtual lately. Well, so have incubators. Virtual incubators are disrupting the typical incubator model put into place since the 1950s. In virtual incubation, you can still gain access to support, advice, and capital, but instead of being at a fixed space set by the incubator, startups can maintain their own office space or autonomy.  

The virtual business model has even infiltrated higher education. Some colleges and universities are starting to offer virtual business incubators as well. Governments also can favor virtual incubators to encourage international business or to spur growth in specific industries. 

Kitchen Incubators

In a sense, kitchens have always been incubators. They are places of creativity, passion, and innovation. But ShiftPixy Labs takes this to a whole new level with their kitchen incubators. 

Their incubator lays the groundwork for restaurant innovation and experimentation with powerful new concepts, such as ghost kitchens and native delivery. Restaurateurs and chefs learn to maximize their talents and supercharge food concepts with sophisticated technology and digital marketing. ShiftPixy Labs kitchen incubators provide mentorship, education, and growth opportunities. The cooking always turns out tasty in a ShiftPixy Labs incubator. 

Social Incubators

If you want to change the world, look for social incubators. This kind of incubator seeks out startups who wish to impact society or the environment positively. 

However, this idea of “social entrepreneurship” may roll over into lots of business ideas. Health startups in a medical incubator may want to change the world too. But the difference may be in the format or structure of the incubator. A social incubator program may have classes on ethics and aim to nurture social responsibility. 

Seed Accelerator

Seed accelerators or startup accelerators help with entrepreneurial development for startup companies. The program usually consists of a cohort for a short and fixed term. Like other traditional business incubators, it provides educational resources, mentorship and ends with a pitch or demo day. 

But a startup ecosystem is highly competitive, and funding may come from public or private sources. The hands-on mentorship expects a return and proof the business concept works. But if it does, the chances of securing financing are higher. 

Startup Studio

The most general answer for startup incubation is a place that builds other companies. But this isn’t very clear. What does that mean exactly? Startup studios create a space where all kinds of experts come together to build multiple companies at once. 

One or more of these startup companies could be successful. The idea is that you learn from your mistakes and beat the odds. Startups are notoriously known to fail. A good idea doesn’t mean success. So, a startup studio starts with the premise: if we keep building, one will make it. 

Corporate Incubator

Corporate incubation has been around since bell bottoms were a thing. Probably, long before. There’s bound to be a corporate accelerator somewhere in the building in any corporate venture around the globe. 

Corporate incubators develop in-house ideas from staff or invite entrepreneurs to come under their wing and innovate. The startup receives valuable support, advice, and financing and the parent company is part of developing new technology or partnering with the competition. 

As you can see, there are a ton of incubation models. While all have similar approaches, there are some nuanced differences, but regardless the intent is to create successful businesses. ShiftPixy Labs gives kitchen incubators the tools, resources, and mentorship needed to thrive. Download the app and apply today. Let’s see what’s cooking in your kitchen.