What is business incubation?

Business incubation accelerates the development of successful small businesses by providing practical assistance and a variety of business and technical support services. Incubators typically offer: business assistance and referrals, networking opportunities, shared equipment and services and help with financing. Incubator facilities also provide limited term affordable space while incubators “without walls” work with entrepreneurs through-out their community. An important goal of business incubation is to “graduate” successful and financially stable companies that create jobs and strengthen the local economy.

Does business incubation work?

Wisconsin and national studies show that business incubators provide economic development opportunities based on low program costs and high return on investment to communities. They encourage the creation of jobs and wealth within an area. Incubators support the success of start-up and expanding small businesses by providing targeted business support and resources.

70% of small startup businesses outside incubators fail in the first three years while 87% of incubator graduates succeed and flourish. Source: National Business Incubator Association.

Today there are 35 operating incubators in the state, over 1,400 incubators in North America and 5,000 worldwide. The rapid worldwide growth of the business incubation industry is due to one simple fact – business incubation works!

Is business incubation right for my company?

If you are a start-up or expanding small business, business incubation could provide you with they support you need to grow your business. Business incubators create exciting entrepreneurial communities where tenant businesses often form lasting business relationships. Contact the business incubator (link to list of members) in your community for available space information and application requirements.

Is business incubation right for my community?

While business incubators can succeed in a wide-variety of settings, it is important to invest in comprehensive up-front planning.

The first step in determining if business incubation is right for your community is determining the goals of your business incubation program.  These goals can vary from job creation to supporting emerging industries.

The next step is conducting a comprehensive feasibility study that will answer these questions:

  • Is there a need?
  • Is there demand?
  • Is there stakeholder support?
  • Will the program be financially self-sustaining?
  • Is there an organization that has the capacity to develop and manage the program?

If you have questions or would like more assistance, please contact one of our members in your area.

Where are Wisconsin incubators located?

Business incubators are located throughout the state of Wisconsin – from Racine to Ashland to La Crosse to Milwaukee and communities in between.  Many of these incubators are mixed-use while others have targeted programs. Most incubators have a facility while others are incubators “without walls”.  Additionally there are a number of agencies throughout Wisconsin that support entrepreneurship and foster business incubation.