CHICAGO – Ask people who run business incubators what they do, and the strange thing is, a lot of them don’t want their organizations to be referred to as “incubators”. That’s what I found out while researching a story I just did about what it takes to be a successful business incubator. I went to the National Association of Business Incubation to select incubators in the Illinois, Michigan and Ohio to speak with. I spoke to eight of them – and got basically eight different responses as to how they measure success. Here’s what they said:
Where: Evanston, Illinois
The Incubator is one of the Midwest’s oldest business incubators. Since it started, the nonprofit has helped more than 350 companies. It has graduated 23 companies that employ more than 450 people in Evanston, and said a “fair number of graduates” overall is 135. Currently, it has 39 companies in the incubation stage which employ 80 people. Director Tim Lavengood said what they promote is innovation.
“We’ve been in the first 36 months of building a business for 25 years,” he said. “The best thing an incubator can be is the institutional memory of the startup process.”