Business incubators by nature contribute to the economic development (creating jobs, fostering growth, strengthening formal sector) as well as to the development of the civil society (equality of opportunities, strengthening disadvantaged groups and minorities). Depending on the economic and social framework, the models and impacts of incubators vary. In the following, we discuss main aspects of BII incubator model impact.
Fighting poverty vs. Promoting innovation and technology
Business incubators in practice can focus either on innovation and technology transfer or on fighting poverty by supporting small businesses in their early stage of development. Both models are different in their corporate culture and key skill and service portfolio. FSU (Former Soviet Union) countries' practice shows that technology transfer and innovation require substantial reforms in the education system and an enhanced cluster policy on government level. Also, universities and institutes need to implement mechanisms of innovation management and technology transfers. Therefore, BII follows a hybrid incubator model, which allows today supporting both small businesses in general and innovation and technology transfer in special cases. Depending on future developments of the society and economy, a focus on innovation and technology transfer is possible. Main impact for the enterprises: increased competitiveness and survival rate. Main impacts for the economy: job-creation, diversification and competitiveness of the SME sector.
Specialized vs. non-specialized incubator
Business incubators can be specialized in various fields, including specialization in serving specific minority or disadvantaged groups (i.e. women's incubator) or market segments (biotechnology incubator, arts incubator). A specialization allows the incubator to focus the strategic impact and to prioritize the development of skills and knowledge. FSU experiences show that the specialization on market segments is most effective in places and regions with significant economic clusters (i.e. Tourism incubator in Samarkand, Uzbekistan). In Tbilisi and Georgia, a cluster policy needs yet to be implemented. At the current stage BII incubator follows the non-specialized model. The international networking and integration of BII incubator is excellent and should be exploited to a maximum.
Physical (incubator with facility) vs. virtual incubator (without facility)
Business incubators provide infrastructure, knowledge, and contacts to their permanent clients. This combination provides the relation between incubator and client needed for an ongoing support and monitoring process. Also, the facility generates revenues for the managing organization, which are needed to cross-subsidize training and consulting services and to assure the self-sustainability of the incubator. Virtual incubators without facility miss both aspects and require ongoing funding. Self-sustainable success models are not known to BII in FSU countries. BII incubator operates according to physical model.