A tech startup incubator typically provides office space, mentorship, and sometimes funding to early-stage startups. Similar in purpose to startup accelerators, startup incubators engage businesses prior to their achieving an initial round of funding. Some incubators help businesses at the idea stage, while others wait until the fledgling company has an initial prototype and business plan.
Top Tech Startup Incubators:
|Tech Startup Incubator||Location|
|TXD Deep Technology Incubator||Hong Kong, China|
|UF Innovate - The Hub||Gainesville, Florida|
|MATTER Health Tech Incubator||Chicago, Illinois|
|Gensler Confidential Financial Tech Incubator||Waterloo, Ontario, Canada|
|Jaguar Land Rover Innovation Labs||Portland, Oregon|
|ZOLLHOF Tech Incubator||Nuremberg, Germany|
|ATDC Tech Incubator||Atlanta, Georgia|
|The Tech+Arts Incubator||San Jose, Calfornia|
|Worcester Clean Tech Incubator||Worcester, Massachusetts|
|Pioneer Tech Business Incubator||Ponca City, Oklahoma|
|Chobani Food Tech Incubator||New York, New York|
|Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator||Los Angeles, Calfornia|
|Tech Incubator at Queens College||New York, New York|
|The Tech Garden||New York, New York|
|bwtech@UMBC Cyber Incubator||Baltimore, Maryland|
|University Lab Partners Incubator||Irvine, California|
|TechTown Detroit Incubator||Detroit, Michigan|
|Austin Technology Incubator||Austin, Texas|
|The Hatchery's B2B Ventures Incubator||New York, New York|
|Capital Factory||Austin, Texas|
|MIT Global Startup Labs||Locations worldwide|
|Thomas O. Daniel Research Incubator & Collaboration Center||Summit, New Jersey|
Tech Startup Incubator FAQs:
What's the difference between a startup incubator and an accelerator?
There's some overlap with incubators and accelerators, and you'll find that the terms are sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably. A tech startup incubator accepts companies at a far earlier stage than an accelerator will. Startup accelerators typically want you to have a minimum viable product, or at least a solid business plan. Incubators help you get to that point.
Another marked difference is that tech incubators offer office space, mentorship, business education, and access to networking, but don't, in the majority of cases, provide funding. Accelerators provide an initial round of funding for an equity stake in your company.
How much do tech startup incubators cost?
It varies. Many business incubators are funded by grants or are programs offered by public universities or institutions, and as such are free. The purpose is to build a vibrant business community and job market. Some incubators charge a nominal fee to cover expenses (utility costs, etc.), while others charge a higher fee for participation in their program and access to their services.
Benefits of a Business Incubator:
- Office space & amenities.
- Reduced cost or free software & services.
- Business education.
- Pitch development & preparation.
- Potential mentorship.
- Access to business network.
Will a tech incubator accept us if we're only at the idea stage?
Some will. Each tech startup incubator program is different, so you'll need to research to find out which one fits your business and its level of growth. You'll likely find that there's a fair amount of fuzziness in the program designations, with some "incubator" programs actually functioning more like accelerators - providing funding for equity, preparing businesses for the next round of funding, accepting only later-stage startups. Read up on potential programs and reach out with questions if necessary.
What's the role of a business incubator?
A business incubator's role is to give you the tools and support you need to get your startup to the accelerator stage. Startup incubators often provide office space with business-grade internet access and the opportunity to work with other businesses and seasoned mentors in an open environment, so there's a lot of interaction and inspiration.
Business incubators also can serve as learning laboratories where you can immediately apply what you've learned about running a company to your startup. Incubators also may introduce new founders to a network of seasoned business leaders and potential investors.
The role of business incubators in the larger socioeconomic sense is to increase corporate diversity and add more employment opportunities to bolster the economy. The more good business ideas are supported, the more product and service offerings will be available. The more fledgling companies are supported, the better chance they'll grow into profitable businesses that need talented employees.
Types of Tech Startup Incubators:
- Virtual or online incubators.
- Kitchen incubator - foodtech.
- Bioincubator - bio- or medtech.
- Hybrid incubator - virtual & in-person.
- Public incubator - startups for public good.
- Agribusiness incubator - farmtech.
How does a tech incubator make money?
Many tech startup incubators run on public funds and grants, so they're able to provide incubator programs for free. Many of these will have an industry focus based on who funded them, so if a grant comes from an agribusiness collective it could stipulate that the funds are only to be used to support farmtech startups.
Other tech startup incubators charge enough to break even on utilities, tools, and supplies, so they'll charge a nominal fee to cover those expenses. They're not really making money on the incubator, but they're not losing money either. The people running the incubator are paid by the host company, organization, or university.
Finally, some business incubators charge a monthly fee that allows them to profit from the startups that take part in their programs.
Does my team have to move to take part in a startup incubator program?
It depends on the incubator. One of the primary benefits of a business incubator is the opportunity to work in an office alongside other startup teams and mentors, immersing yourself in the business environment and growing your network, which of course would require that you move to the incubator's city. Hybrid incubators, however, allow you to stay in your home location while taking advantage of online business courses and meetings, occasionally traveling to the incubator's headquarters for in-person events.
Virtual incubators conduct all incubator activity online, which allows you to stay at home and build your business in a familiar environment while attending online courses and meetings.
How do I find a business incubator near me?
Check with the nearest university or college, or simply do a search for "[your city name] incubator." You can also contact your local business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to see if any of them host or have knowledge of nearby incubator programs. SCORE, the volunteer-based business mentorship organization, is a great resource as well. Some of their offices in major cities host their own small business incubators.
Another excellent resource is InBIA, the International Business Innovation Association (formerly the National Business Incubation Association, or NBIA). InBIA offers courses, events, and access to the largest entrepreneurial support network in the world.