About the Guide:

Business incubators are a tool that has been around since the 1960s. It evolved as a concept to test new ideas in an environment separate from a firm’s core operations.

Over the years, incubators have evolved significantly. The concept is now closely tied to the startup ecosystem and is commonly grouped in with corporate accelerators. While the two tools have a lot in common, incubators bring a unique set of benefits to an innovation strategy —  particularly when building longer-term products and developing internal teams.

This guide will teach you how the unique traits of incubators can help drive innovation in a way that’s different from other innovation tools like accelerators and R&D. We first dive into the history of incubators, then we explore the theory behind the tool, and finally we outline some of the main factors to consider when designing a program.

This is a companion piece to our series on corporate accelerators. This guide covers the incubators unique characteristics and references the corporate accelerator content when they share goals.


What is an Incubator?

History, Definitions, and Motivations

The first article in the corporate incubator series explains what a corporate incubator is and how it differs from other startup engagement tools, such as a corporate accelerator. Explore the history, motivations, and downfalls of the corporate incubator.


Incubator Theories and Models

How and Why Do They Work?

The second article in the corporate incubator series explains the theory behind incubators. What is the core mechanism powering incubators? How are they structured? Who participates in the programs?


Incubator Design

Types, Focus, Duration, and Location

The third article in the corporate incubator series dives into the design choices tied to incubators. As is true with corporate accelerators, there is no one-size-fits-all design of an incubator. A company interested in leveraging an incubator program should consider the following components: What type of incubator? What is the incubator’s focus? How long should the incubator run? Where should the incubator be located?


Measuring Incubator Success

Key Metrics and Considerations

Innovation tools must be backed by data. This article, the fourth in our series on corporate incubators, teaches you how to measure incubator projects to determine success and convince stakeholders.


Managing Corporate Incubators

Leadership and Budgets

Given the long-term nature of incubators, they require strategic management. This article, the final in our incubator series, outlines the leadership and capital requirements for incubators, as well post-program considerations.

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