The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 432–453 | Cite as

Business incubators and the networks of technology-based firms

  • Danny P. SoetantoEmail author
  • Sarah L. Jack


This paper looks to broaden understanding about the networks of firms located in Business Incubators (BIs). To achieve this objective, a framework for understanding the networks of incubator firms was constructed. We argue that networks at incubators can be seen in two dimensions. In the first dimension, we define incubator firm networking activities in terms of resource type, i.e. tangible and intangible resources. In the second dimension, we define networks of incubator firms as external and internal. Internal networks refer to the relationship among tenants while external networks refer to the firm’s relationship with other institutions such as a university and/or research centre. Networks of firms located at the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus in the United Kingdom were investigated using a tenant survey. Findings show that incubator firms develop more networks to access intangible resources than tangible resources. The analysis explored and compared types of networks for highly innovative firms and medium to low innovative firms and found differences in their networking activity. With regards to policy recommendations, this study shows network support for incubator firms can be improved. It also shows that those concerned with developing BI policy need to recognize and appreciate that not all incubator firms have the same needs. This should be taken into account when developing network support.


Network Incubator Highly innovative firms Medium to low innovative firms 

JEL classification

M13 O31 O32 



We would like to thank John Leake and Stephanie Forbisser from The Daresbury SIC for their support and helpful comments.


  1. Acs, Z. J., & Audretsch, D. B. (1992). Innovation and small firms. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  2. Acs, Z. J., Audretsch, D. B., & Feldman, M. P. (1992). Real effects of academic research: Comment. American Economic Review, 82(1), 363–367.Google Scholar
  3. Adler, P., & Kwon, S. W. (2002). Social capital: Prospects for a new concept. Academy of Management Review, 27(1), 17–40.Google Scholar
  4. Aernoudt, R. (2004). Incubators: Tool for entrepreneurship? Small Business Economics, 23, 127–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ahuja, G. (2000). Collaboration networks, structural holes, and innovation: A longitudinal study. Administrative Science Quarterly, 45(3), 425–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Allen, D. N., & McClusky, R. (1990). Structure, policy, service, and performance in the business incubator industry. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 15(2), 61–77.Google Scholar
  7. Amit, R., & Schoemaker, P. (1993). Strategic assets and organizational rent. Strategic Management Journal, 14, 33–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Audretsch, D. B., & Fledman, M. P. (1996). R&D spillovers and the geography of innovation and production. The American Economic Review, 86(3), 630–640.Google Scholar
  9. Bakouros, Y. L., Dimitri, C. M., & Nikos, C. V. (2002). Science park, a high tech fantasy? An analysis of the science parks of Greece. Technovation, 22(2), 123–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Barney, J. B. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1), 99–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Barney, J. B., & Clark, D. N. (2007). Resource-based theory: Creating and sustaining competitive advantage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Barrow, C. (2001). Incubators—Realist’s guide to the world’s new business accelerators. NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  13. Bergek, A., & Norrman, C. (2008). Incubator best practice: A framework. Technovation, 28(1–2), 20–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Birch, D. L. (1981). Who creates job? The Public interest, 65, 3–14.Google Scholar
  15. Bøllingtoft, A., & Ulhøi, J. P. (2005). The networked business incubator—Leveraging entrepreneurial agency? Journal of Business Venturing, 20, 265–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bozeman, B. (2000). Technology transfer and public policy: A review of research and Theory. Research Policy, 2, 627–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Broström, A. (2010). Firms’ rationales for interaction with research universities and the principles for public co-funding. Journal of Technology Transfer. doi: 10.1007/s10961-010-9177-4.
  18. Campbell, C., & Allen, D. N. (1987). The small business incubator industry: Micro-level economic development. Economic Development Quarterly, 1(2), 178–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chan, K. F., & Lau, T. (2005). Assessing technology incubator programs in the science park: The good, the bad and the ugly. Technovation, 25(10), 1215–1228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Clarysse, B., Wright, M., Lockett, A., Van de Velde, E., & Vohora, A. (2005). Spinning out new ventures: a typology of incubation strategies from European research institutions. Journal of Business Venturing, 20(2), 183–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cohen, W. M., & Levinthal, D. A. (1990). Absorptive capacity: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(1), 128–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cohen, D., & Prusak, L. (2001). In good company. How social capital makes organizations work. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  23. Colombo, M. G., & Delmastro, M. (2002). How effective are technology incubators? Evidence from Italy. Research Policy, 31(7), 103–1122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Colombo, M. G., & Grilli, L. (2005). Founders’ human capital and the growth of new technology-based firms: A competence-based view. Research Policy, 34(6), 795–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Colombo, M. G., Grilli, L., & Piva, E. (2006). In search of complementary assets: The determinants of alliance formation of high-tech start-ups. Research Policy, 35(8), 1166–1199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Colombo, M., Mustar, P., & Wright, M. (2010). Dynamics of science-based entrepreneurship. Journal of Technology Transfer, 35(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Cooke, P., & Leydesdorff, L. (2006). Regional development in the knowledge-based economy: The construction of advantage. Journal of Technology Transfer, 31(1), 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Cooper, C. E., Hamel., S. A., & Connaughton, S. L. (2010). Motivations and obstacles to networking in a university business incubator. Journal of Technology Transfer. doi: 10.1007/s10961-010-9189-0.
  29. Dettwiler, P., Lindelöf, P., & Löfsten, H. (2006). Utility of location: A comparative survey between small new technology-based firms located on and off Science Parks-Implications for facilities management. Technovation, 26(4), 506–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Dierickx, I., & Cool, K. (1989). Asset stock accumulation and sustainability of competitive advantage. Management Science, 35(12), 1504–1511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Duff, A. (1994). Best practice in business incubator management. Booragoon, Australia: AUSTEP Strategic Partnering Pty.Google Scholar
  32. Fernandez, E., Montes, J. M., & Vazquez, C. J. (2000). Typology and strategic analysis of intangible resources: A resource-based approach. Technovation, 20, 81–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Goldstein, H. A., & Renault, C. S. (2004). Contributions of universities to regional economic development: A quasi-experimental approach. Regional Studies, 38(7), 733–746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Grant, R. M. (1991). The resource-based theory of competitive advantage: Implications for strategy formulation, California Management Review, 33, 3, 114–135.Google Scholar
  35. Grimaldi, R., & Grandi, A. (2005). Business incubators and new Venture Creation: An assessment of incubating models. Technovation, 25(2), 111–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Groen, A., Jenniskens, I., & van der Sijde, P. (2005). Needs of start-up technology-driven enterprises: Starting points for government policy. In W. During, R. Oakey, & S. Kauser (Eds.), New technology-based firms in the new millennium (Vol. IV, pp. 219–234). Elsevier: Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  37. Hackett, S. M., & Dilts, D. M. (2004). A real option-driven theory of business incubation. Journal of Technology Transfer, 29, 41–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hackett, S. M., & Dilts, D. M. (2008). Inside the black box of business incubation: Study B—Scale assessment, model refinement, and incubation outcomes. Journal of Technology Transfer, 33(5), 439–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hall, R. (1992). The strategic analysis of intangible resources. Strategic Management Journal, 13, 135–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hall, R. (1993). A framework linking intangible resources and capabilities to sustainable competitive advantage. Strategic Management Journal, 14, 607–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hannon, P. D., & Chaplin, P. (2003). Are incubators good for business? Understanding incubation practice—The challenges for policy. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 21(6), 861–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hansen, M. T., Chesbrough, H. W., Nohria, N., & Sull, D. N. (2000). Networked incubators: Hothouses of the new economy. Harvard Business Review, 78(5), 74–84.Google Scholar
  43. Hansson, F., Husted, K., & Vestergaard, J. (2005). Second generation science parks: from structural holes jockeys to social capital catalysts of the knowledge society. Technovation, 25(9), 1039–1049.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hindle, K., & Yencken, J. (2004). Public research commercialisation, entrepreneurship and new technology based firms: an integrated model. Technovation, 24(10), 793–803.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hughes, M., Ireland, R. D., & Morgan, R. E. (2007). Stimulating dynamic value: Social capital and business incubation as a pathway to competitive success. Long Range Planning, 40, 154–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Jaffe, A. B. (1989). Real effects of academic research. American Economic Review, 79, 957–970.Google Scholar
  47. Kuratko, D. F., & LaFollette, W. R. (1987). Small business incubators for local economic development. Economic Development Review, 5(2), 49–55.Google Scholar
  48. Lin, B. W., Li, P. C., & Chen, J. S. (2006). Social capital, capabilities, and entrepreneurial strategies: A study of Taiwanese high-tech new ventures. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 73(2), 168–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lindelöf, P., & Löfsten, H. (2003). Science Park location and new technology-based firms in Sweden–Implications for strategy and performance. Small Business Economics, 20(3), 245–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Link, A. N., & Scott, J. T. (2007). The economics of university research parks. Oxford Rev Econ Policy., 23(4), 661–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Löfsten, H., & Lindelöf, P. (2002). Science Parks and the growth of new technology-based firms—academic-industry links, innovation and markets. Research Policy, 31(6), 859–876.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Löfsten, H., & Lindelöf, P. (2005). R&D networks and product innovation patterns-academic and non-academic new technology-based firms on Science Parks. Technovation, 25(9), 1025–1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lyons, T. S. (2000). Building Social Capital for Sustainable Enterprise Development in Country Towns and Regions: Successful Practices from the United States. Paper presented at the First National Conference on the Future of Australia’s Country Towns, LaTrobe University, Center for Sustainable Regional Communities, Australia.Google Scholar
  54. McAdam, M., & Marlow, S. (2008). A preliminary investigation into networking activities within the university incubator. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 14(4), 219–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. McAdam, M., & McAdam, R. (2006). The networked incubator: the role and operation of entrepreneurial networking with the university science park incubator (USI). The international Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 7(2), 87–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mian, S. A. (1996). Assessing value-added contributions of university technology business incubators to tenant firms. Research Policy, 25(3), 325–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mian, S. A. (1997). Assessing and managing the university technology business incubator: An integrative framework. Journal of Business Venturing, 12(4), 251–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Moray, N., & Clarysse, B. (2005). Institutional change and resource endowments to science-based entrepreneurial firms. Research Policy, 34, 1010–1027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. OECD. (2001). Fostering high-tech spin-offs: A public strategy for innovation. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  60. Patton, D., Warren, L., & Bream, D. (2009). Elements that underpin high-tech business incubation process. Journal of Technology Transfer, 34(6), 621–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Peters, L., Rice, M., & Sundararajan, M. (2004). The role of incubators in the entrepreneurial process. Journal of Technology Transfer, 29(1), 83–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Reid, S., & Garnsey, E. (1998). Incubation policy and resource provision: Meeting the needs of young, innovative firms. In R. Oakey & W. During (Eds.), New technology-based firms in the 1990s (Vol. V, pp. 67–80). London: Paul Chapman.Google Scholar
  63. Reynold, P., Storey, D. J., & Westhead, P. (1994). Cross-national comparisons of the variation in new firm formation rates’. Regional Studies, 28(4), 443–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rice, M. P. (2002). Co-production of business assistance in business incubators: An exploratory study. Journal of Business Venturing, 17(2), 163–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Roberts, P. W., & Dowling, G. R. (2002). Corporate reputation and sustained superior financial performance. Strategic Management Journal, 23, 1077–1093.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rothaermel, R. T., Agung, S. D., & Jiang, L. (2007). University entrepreneurship: A taxonomy of the literature. Industrial and Corporate Change, 16(4), 691–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Schwartz, M. (2009). Beyond incubation: An analysis of firm survival and exit dynamics in the post-graduation period. Journal of Technology Transfer, 34(4), 403–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Scillitoe, J. L., & Chakrabarti, A. K. (2005). The sources of social capital within technology incubators: The roles of historical ties and organizational facilitation. International Journal of Learning and Intellectual Capital, 2(4), 327–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Smilor, R. W., & Gill, M. D. (1986). The new business incubator: Linking talent, technology, capital, and know-how. Lexington: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  70. Soetanto, D. P., & Van Geenhuizen, M. (2010). Social capital through networks: The case of university spin-offs in different stages. Journal of Economic and Social Geography, 101, 509–520.Google Scholar
  71. Tamasy, T. (2007). Rethinking technology-oriented business incubators: Developing a Robust policy instrument for entrepreneurship, innovation, and regional development? Growth and Change, 38(3), 1468–2257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tötterman, H., & Sten, J. (2005). Start-ups: Business incubation and social capital. International Small Business Journal, 23, 487–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Van Dierdonck, R., Debackere, K., & Rappa, M. A. (1991). An assessment of science parks: Towards a better understanding of their role in the diffusion of technological knowledge. R&D Management, 21(2), 109–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Van Geenhuizen, M., & Soetanto, D. P. (2009). Academic spin-offs at different ages: A case study in search of obstacles to growth. Technovation, 29(10), 671–681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Vedovello, C., & Godinho, M. (2003). Business incubators as a technological infrastructure for supporting small innovative firms’ activities. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 3(1/2), 4–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Von Zedtwitz, M., & Grimaldi, R. (2006). Are service profiles incubator-specific? Result from an empirical investigation in Italy. Journal of Technology Transfer, 31(4), 459–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Warren, L., Patton, D., & Bream, D. (2009). Knowledge acquisition processes during the incubation of new high technology firms. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 5, 481–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Westhead, P., & Batstone, S. (1998). Independent technology-based firms: The perceived benefits of a Science Park location. Urban Studies, 35, 2197–2219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wright, M., Birley, S., & Mosey, S. (2004). Entrepreneurship and University Technology Transfer. Journal of Technology Transfer, 29(3), 235–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise DevelopmentLancaster University Management SchoolBailrigg, LancasterUK

Personalised recommendations