Business incubator (technological incubator) – a special organizational structure within a technopark or technopolis, created to support small innovative businesses at the first stages of their formation.
The main functions of a business incubator are:
1) provision of developers with equipped workplaces, office services (telephone, office equipment, Internet access, record keeping services, secretarial and other services), professional consultations, experimental equipment;
2) assistance to developers in preparing business plans for commercialization of ideas, carrying out research and development, prototyping, obtaining funds for carrying out projects, and participation in exhibitions, conferences, seminars, and presentations;
3) ensuring legal protection of developments and other types of intellectual property.
The composition of projects supported by the business incubator is formed by its governing bodies upon recommendation of experts (expert council of the technopark) – specialists in various fields. As a rule, the maximum term of projects’ placement in the incubator is one year.
Restrictions on the period of stay in the business incubator are necessary to encourage companies and entrepreneurs to quickly obtain results and move to an independent level of development, as well as to ensure the necessary turnover of companies and entrepreneurs in the business incubator to increase the effectiveness of the “selection” stage in the formation of the client base of the technopark.
Staying in the business incubator should help the author of the development (or another project initiator) to carry out the
1. Formalization of an idea. The stage of idea formalization lasts for a week, during which the applicant or an already existing small innovative company with the help of the technopark manager prepares its idea for consideration by the Expert Council. The forms of documents to be submitted must correspond to the requirements developed in the technopark, and the projects must meet the criteria for selecting innovative projects. The technopark Expert Board, guided by the developed criteria for selection and evaluation of preliminary research results, determines the level of the proposed projects and decides on their placement in the technopark business incubator or on rejection thereof.
2. Research work. At this stage, scientific research is carried out to substantiate the feasibility of the idea. The developer prepares a business plan with the help of the manager supervising the project from the side of the technopark. The R&D stage lasts up to six months (in special cases, the term can be extended up to one year by agreement with the expert council). At this stage, the technopark gives a grant to the developer and puts the project out for competition for non-repayable funds from third-party grant systems.
3. experimental development work. The main goal of the program is to attract highly qualified specialists, who have at least two years of practical experience in the R&D process, including highly qualified specialists in the innovation ecosystem. The R&D stage lasts six months (up to one year – as agreed with the expert council). At this stage, a joint venture with the project team is organized, for which significant rent reductions are provided. At the end of this stage, the business incubator’s support of the project ceases.