Incubator RoundUp

December 21, 2011

Finding new and creative ways for high-tech companies to succeed is an important component in business incubation. A recent study examining best practices for supporting new company formation finds it is the synergy among multiple practices, policies and services that produces optimal outcomes. At the same time, collecting standardized measures, reporting on progress annually, conducting external independent evaluations, tracking programs, and continuing to enhance practices are singled out as important policy implications. Over the past few months, several new incubator models have emerged — including a concept for a hybrid-accelerator and a startup incubator that floats. Select announcements are included below. 

Baltimore's Emerging Technology Center (ETC), an established incubator for high-tech firms, will launch its own accelerator program, called Accelerate Baltimore, with seed funding from the Abell Foundation. Funding will support five companies with physical space and counsel from an advisory team assembled to help companies through product development and launch. In return, ETC and Abell will take an 8 percent equity stake and a royalty of 2.5 percent, capped at $150,000.

Dubbed Peoria Incucelerator for its part incubator, part accelerator design, the new center will house up to six medical and health-care related startups on the Plaza Del Rio campus in Peoria, AZ. BioAccel, a nonprofit organization, has agreed to provide support, funding and technical assistance for participating companies. A March 2012 opening is anticipated.

Johnson & Johnson is refurbishing part of its San Diego pharmaceutical R&D facility to create a business incubation center for biotech and health IT companies. Janssen Labs at San Diego will occupy about 35,000 square-feet and house up to 20 life science startups. The center is expected to open in early 2012.

Two Baltimore entrepreneurs are teaming up to launch what they are calling a "hybrid accelerator," reports The Baltimore Sun. Under the model, an operating company would run the physical location slated to open early next year. Separately, the two owners would raise funds from investors who would be designated as limited partners. The group would make investments ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 in exchange for equity stakes in the companies, according to the article.

An idea for a floating incubator to bypass U.S. immigration restrictions recently was reported by The New York Times. Blueseed, which aims to create a visa-free incubator for international entrepreneurs off the California coast, is currently seeking investors for its "Googleplex of the Sea."

The Michigan Economic Development Corp this week awarded $6 million to 12 organizations throughout the state to support incubators. Applicants submitted comprehensive business plans for delivering entrepreneurial services to startup businesses and were required to develop a dashboard of indicators to measure the effectiveness of the business incubator and accelerator programs that also ties to the state's strategic goals.

The University of Montana (UM) will manage the Montana Technology Enterprise Center (MonTEC) following the dissolution of Missoula Area Economic Development Corp. earlier this year. The future of the business incubator, which was formed in 2001, was uncertain until UM agreed to step in, reports The Missoulian. UM plans to downsize the facility and work to set it up as an independent nonprofit organization.

The University of Texas at Dallas recently opened a business incubator to help commercialize university technology and launch student-run startup companies, reports The Dallas Morning News. Student entrepreneurs will receive help with business plans, product development and market research. The university also is planning to add a graduate and undergraduate course in 2013 to help students start a business by providing incubator space, mentoring and seed funding.

Pooling resources of local colleges, universities and business incubators, Accelerate518 hopes to provide better mentoring and a solid infrastructure for emerging startups throughout New York's Tech Valley Corridor. The collaboration provides students and early-stage entrepreneurs with access to space and equipment that may not be available at their own institution. Two newly formed seed funds also will work with Accelerate518 to identify potential investments.

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