A review of research on the role and effectiveness of business incubation for technology-based start-ups
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The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of current knowledge on the role and effectiveness of business incubation in supporting the development of new firms with high growth potential. The quantitative and qualitative literature published by the academic and practitioner communities is reviewed. From analysis of this literature, the following conclusions are drawn: • In academic and practitioner publications alike there is widespread definitional and conceptual ambiguity in relation to business incubation. • Given the variety of business incubator strategies, business models, stakeholders, et al., there is no standard measure for assessing incubator performance. The validity, comparability and generalisability of published findings of incubator performance need to be carefully considered. • As the incubation industry has matured so understanding of its core purpose has become more sophisticated. • Research on business incubation needs to be considered in the context of other bodies of knowledge; in particular cluster theory, regional innovation systems, entrepreneurship, investment, and firm growth. These conclusions point to areas of further research including the development of comparable performance indicators – not absolute performance measures – for business incubation; the need to integrate incubation research more effectively within established areas of research; the linking the activities of business incubation to new ventures in emerging industries; and research on the provision of incubation services for device-based or other physical productbased start-ups.