Do graduated university incubator firms benefit from their relationship with university incubators?

Abstract

Business incubators have become a popular policy option and economic development intervention tool. However, recent research shows that incubated firms may not benefit significantly from their incubator relationships, and may even be more vulnerable to failure post departure (graduation) from an incubator. These findings suggest that the impact of business incubation on new venture viability may be contingent on the type of support offered by an incubator and attributes of business environments within which incubation services are provided. Incubation services that protect and isolate ventures from key resource dependencies may hinder venture development and increase subsequent vulnerability to environmental demands. Alternatively, incubation services that help ventures connect and align with key resource dependencies are likely to promote firm survival. We propose that incubators vary in the services and resources they offer, and that university incubators typically provide greater connectivity and legitimacy with respect to important contingencies associated with key industry and community stakeholders. This leads us to propose that university affiliation is an important contingency that affects the relationship between firms’ participation in incubators and their subsequent performance. The purpose of this study is to evaluate this contingency by examining whether firms graduating from university incubators attain higher levels of post-incubation performance than firms participating in non-university affiliated incubators. We test this by evaluating the performance of a sample of graduated firms associated with the population of university-based incubators in the US contrasted against the performance of a matched cohort of non-incubated firms. The analysis uses an enhanced dataset that tracks the number of employees, sales, and the entry and graduation (departure) points of incubated firms from a university incubation program, so as to delineate the scope of influence of the incubator.

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Correspondence to Vernet Lasrado.

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Lasrado, V., Sivo, S., Ford, C. et al. Do graduated university incubator firms benefit from their relationship with university incubators?. J Technol Transf 41, 205–219 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-015-9412-0

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Keywords

  • Resource endowments
  • Economic development
  • Regional development
  • Entrepreneur support organizations
  • Business incubation
  • University based business incubators
  • Graduate firms

JEL Classification

  • L21
  • L25
  • L26
  • O33
  • O44