If you plan to start a new business or already have but you don’t have an office or lab space, why should you consider working with a small business incubator?
An incubator is an organization that offers assistance and resources to help newly-formed businesses get started and supports them as they move forward. Small business incubators also provide space to house these companies in a shared work environment.
According to the executive director of the University of Houston Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation, Christopher Taylor, “Small business incubators serve as the foundation of most innovation ecosystems and for startups, these hubs provide connectivity, support, and resources they can leverage to improve their odds of success.”
In a small business blog on Chron.com, the author points out that even after a business leaves an incubator, the connections they make with other business owners are relationships that will continue to grow. There, startups can learn and grow together and, in turn, incubators foster a continuously growing community by looking for businesses and growing companies that serve the same field.
For example, an incubator that is focused on technology will look for companies that are in the technology sector. At Texas Medical Center Innovation, two programs support the development of health technologies. The Cancer Therapeutics Accelerator is a nine-month program where startups get support in market and technical research. The Health Tech Accelerator is a six-month program for digital health and medical device startups.
Business incubators offer support in many ways, including critical services that help move businesses forward.
For example, the UH Technology Bridge connects new business owners to the Small Business Development Center, where they can get help with all their preliminary operational tasks. Companies housed at incubators also gain access to programming like focused workshops that cover how to find funding, how to build a business strategy and other business fundamentals.
Startup incubators also give startups with limited funds access to expensive equipment that they would otherwise not be able to afford. They also offer office space, usually at a lower cost than other commercial space. These spaces usually include office amenities such as central printing and conference rooms. They are able to offer lower costs because they are usually funded by a school, city or investors.
Some for-profit incubators make money by directly selling their services to startups or others. Some may make money indirectly, meaning their services generate sales for other services.
The Big Idea
“Many successful startups come out of incubators because they have the ability to create tremendous velocity as companies work towards commercializing their technologies,” Taylor said.
Starting a business is not an easy feat. But incubators can help improve a startup’s chances of success.
This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea. Cory Thaxton, the author of this piece, is the communications coordinator for The Division of Research.