A systematic approach for supporting innovative business ideas, in terms of common infrastructure, advisory services and a conductive environment.
Financed by SIVA, a state institution for industrial development, the network of local incubators covers all of Norway. Facilitating a common ecosystem with access to office space and other infrastructure, highly subsidized services like advisory support, prototyping etc., joint training programs and more, creates a conductive environment that has proven successful. Peer interaction and stimulation is an important aspect. There are two types of clients: entrepreneurs starting from scratch and offshoots from existing companies. An agreement to join and be part of the incubator normally has a 3-year duration. In Sogn and Fjordane County, there are two incubators: Kunnskapsparken (Knowledge Park) and Aksello.
Depends on the number of clients. For 10-15 clients:
1. Manpower to operate the incubator. EUR 100,000 per year.
2. Advisory capacity in various fields, like accounting, marketing, design, law. EUR 200,000 per year.
3. Infrastructure (office space, copying, printers etc.). EUR 50,000 per year.
Evidence of success
Both Kunnskapsparken and Aksello have had several successful exits, where clients have entered the incubator community, been there for a short or long time, and developed sufficiently to break into a market with a successful product, or developed and become attractive for bigger companies to take over.
Potential for learning or transfer
Others can copy the systemic approach. Creating the common environment with peer interaction is crucial. Financing can be a challenge, but the concept is well prepared for public-private partnership.
Key success factors:
1. Identify and get on board strong sponsors for long term (+5 years) financing of the incubator. These could be public-private partnerships
2. Identify and develop strong ecosystem around the incubator. These actors can contribute in client’s development. Ecosystem could consist of; private investors, universities / research institutions, clusters, businesses, public organisations.
3. Identify and involve a network of mentors to contribute in client’s development
4. Establishing a “critical mass” of clients. Creating a common environment with peer interaction is crucial.