Long-term Effects of Business Incubators: What Happens to Incubated Firms after they Have Graduated from the BIs?
Many cities and municipalities devote considerable public resources to the establishment and operation of business incubators (BIs) to promote the survivability and the positive development of newly founded firms. In the context of incubator evaluations, survival is one of the most important performance indicators, and survival rates of incubated firms are frequently communicated to the public by local authorities to demonstrate the success of those policy initiatives. However, in most cases, these data refers to the initial incubation period. Little is known about survival or exit dynamics of incubated firms after they have graduated from the BIs. On the basis of a comprehensive research project concerned with the development of graduate firms from incubators in Dresden, Halle (Saale), Jena, Neubrandenburg and Rostock, this article not only investigates how many firms survive after leaving the incubator facilities, but also investigates if graduation causes an immediate negative effect on subsequent survivability. The results show that about one third of all graduate firms fail after leaving the incubator. Furthermore, it can be found that graduate firms from the BIs in Halle (Saale) and Neubrandenburg face a relatively high risk of business closure especially in the first years after the completion of the incubation period.