Though the term “Business Incubator” and “Business Accelerator” are often used interchangeably, and both are geared to helping a business grow, there is a difference. A Business Incubator is a company that offers services, primarily to start up and young companies, which are still working on formulating the core business concept and operational principals. These service offering is for things such as:
• Help with business basics (e.g. Business formation and Planning tools)
• Networking activities
• Marketing Planning assistance and guidance (e.g. Logo Creation, Marketing Plans, Graphic Design, Website creation/improvement)
• Help with accounting/financial management
• Access to funding sources (e.g. Strategic Partners, Angel Investors, Venture Capitalists, Lenders)
• Help with presentation skills & Business Documents at discounted rates
• Links to education and other business resources
• Consulting and advising services
• Advisory boards and mentors
• Management team identification
• Technology commercialization assistance
• Help with regulatory compliance
• Intellectual Property management
• and more.
Incubators are specifically geared towards young businesses that are just trying to get going and are still working out the details of their business model and management. The time span that many businesses stay under the guidance of an incubator varies from a matter of months to several years.