Specialization versus Diversification: Perceived Benefits of Different Incubation Models

Business incubator initiatives are a widespread policy instrument for the promotion of entrepreneurship, innovation and the development of new technology-based firms. Recently, there has been an increasing tendency for the more traditional diversified incubators to be superseded by incubators focusing their support elements, processes and selection criteria on firms from one specific sector, and its particular needs. Despite the increasing importance of such specialized incubators in regional innovation strategies, the question of whether they are advantageous has neither been investigated empirically nor discussed theoretically in detail. Drawing on large-scale survey data from 161 firms incubated in either diversified or specialized incubators in Germany, we investigate the benefits to firms of being part of a specialized business incubator as opposed to being part of a generalized business incubator. The investigation of the value-added contribution of specialized incubators, in particular regarding hardware components, business assistance, networking and reputation gains, reveals considerable differences compared to the more diversified incubation model.

18. April 2012

Authors Michael Schwartz Christoph Hornych

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