Incubators getting more pushy

Incubators are getting more pushy Once simply providers of cheap accommodation for a number of young companies, Incubators are slowly taking the bull by the horns and adopting active ways of helping their tenants to develop their businesses.

Proactive staff: Incubator staff increasingly act as monitors (eg at ‘office hours’ with regular reviews of progress, problems and plans) (Bethnal Green Ventures, South Bank University, Cockpit Arts).

Workshops and events: meetings with specialised advisers are now common.

Mentoring: cohorts of mentors are increasingly common, though rarely systematically managed.

Grow or go: Incubators are adopting policies to encourage churn: they expect incubatees to move on after a given period (Cockpit Arts).

Early-stage development programmes: Incubators are running pre-accelerator programmes (Imperial, South Bank University with Accelerator Academy)

Startups moving on: Incubatees are moving on – from incubators to Accelerators (eg to Wayra et al.)

Incubators as fully-fledged business developers: running their own Accelerator programmes (Imperial, Crick Centre, BioHub).

Incubators forming alliances: Corporates and VCs are increasingly involved in Incubators – as funders, partners, and investors (Barclays, John Lewis; Cisco and D.C.Thompson with IdeaLondon; ‘SOSV’ (a US VC) running its own Accelerator – ‘RebelBio’).


Will Incubators go even further, and develop Online programmes (like Y Combinator and Dreamstake), and Scaleup programmes (like ‘Growth Builder’)

Are Science Parks next in line to turn from letting agents into developers of businesses?


John Whatmore, November 2018


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