What clearly emerge from this definition are the aims of an incubator and the distinctive characteristics that must be developed to achieve these aims.
The aim of an incubator is to produce successful companies, supporting their growth by supplying services and averting financial tensions that could negatively impact development.
In other words, the primary objective of an incubator is to generate successful companies that are able to leave the support program as completely autonomous entities from a production and financial standpoint. What is more, business development lays the groundwork for attaining more far-reaching goals, such as creating jobs, improving a country’s technology level, stimulating progress in underdeveloped areas, etc.
In order to reach these objectives, an incubator has to guarantee its customers—young companies with ample growth margins—a structured set of resources and services. These consist of managerial tools, financial and organizational consulting, adequate technical support, as well as logistical structures and equipment.
There are various kinds of incubators; the characteristics of each depend on a combination of certain variables:
Promoters: large industrial firms and/or service companies, universities, public agencies and bodies, financial intermediaries, investors Specific goals: to create jobs, to revitalize and/or develop economically depressed areas, to diversify production, to conduct research and development, to transfer technology, to make a profit
Type of customer served: sector (artisan sector, manufacturing industry, information technology, etc.) or people targeted (students/researchers, entrepreneurs, women, ethnic minorities, etc.)
Services offered: logistical and infotech services (networks, information systems, infotech equipment, etc.), secretarial services (reception, handling phone calls, and mail), consulting and management (legal, fiscal, patents, work, etc.), training
Support model: the resources that enable the structure to function, for example, payment for services to company/ customers, provision of services outside the incubator, public subsidies, sponsorship, royalties
Environmental context: The ability of the incubator to develop relationships and networks to support its “guests” depends on the management and characteristics of the promoters
Therefore, it is impossible to come up with a general classification of the external context a priori. Specifically, according to the most recent empirical studies, intersecting the variables leads to the creation of four different types of incubator that are distinctive in terms of their approach to companies and the range of services offered: business innovation centers (BICs), university business incubators (UBIs), independent private incubators (IPIs), and corporate private incubators (CPIs).