Definitions

It seems to be a never ending topic: Definitions. Many words are used for activities to promote entrepreneurship, terms like business / technology incubator or center, entrepreneurial incubator or center, innovation center, science, technology or research park to name just a few. There was no consistent internationally accepted definition and understanding of these terms.

At the "6th International Summit of Business Incubation and Science Park Associations" held in Dortmund, Germany, November 16-19, 2002 the associations present in a resolution agreed on the definition for the term “Science Park”. Concerning the other definitions a final agreement could not yet be reached. But as differences in opinion are comparatively small, the next Summit will be able to finalize the definition work.

The 7th International Summit of Business Incubation and Science/Technology Park Associations held in Richmond, Virginia, USA, May 18, 2003 agreed on a

Definition of the terms "Business Incubation Program" and "Business Incubator"

A Business Incubation Program is an economic and social development process designed to advise potential start-up companies, and, through a comprehensive business assistance program, help them to establish, and accelerate their growth and success through a comprehensive business assistance program. The main goal is to produce successful businesses that will leave the program, in a timely manner, financially viable and freestanding. These graduates create jobs, revitalize communities, commercialize new technologies and create wealth for local and national economies.

Critical to the success of a Business Incubation Program is:

Business Incubation Programs gain added value by providing access to appropriate rental space and flexible leases in an incubator facility.

Note: In this definition the term "Business Incubation Program" may be replaced by the words "Business Incubator". Furthermore the Summit acknowledged that depending on the specific situation in a country the provision of appropriate rental space may be added to the critical success factors.

As the above definition is difficult to handle with the different cultures around the globe, the

10th International Summit of Business Incubation Associations (Global Summit of the Global Network on Business Incubation) held in New Delhi, India, October 20, 2004 agreed on a simplified definition that can be used additionally:

To support a simple model of the global incubation community recognising business incubation environments and processes it is agreed to revise the current 'Global' definitions of business incubation to 3 simpler, more generic and inclusive definitions.

The (wider) business incubation environment is the wider context, which should be conducive to the sustainable nurturing of growth potential and the development of enterprises.

Business incubation is a public and/or private, entrepreneurial, economic and social development process designed to nurture business ideas and start-up companies and, through a comprehensive business support program, help them establish and accelerate their growth and success.

The business incubator is a physical space or facility that accommodates a business incubation process

A) The (wider) business incubation environment
B) The business incubation process
C) Business Incubator (a business incubation environment)

and here information about the "history" of discussion.

At the "6th International Summit of Business Incubation and Science Park Associations" held in Dortmund, Germany, November 16-19, 2002 27 Associations (21 present at the “Dortmund Summit” and 6 more after the Summit) agreed on the following definition developed by IASP, International Association of Science Parks:

Science Park

A Science Park* is an organization managed by specialized professionals, whose main aim is to increase the wealth of its community by promoting the culture of innovation and the competitiveness of its associated businesses and knowledge-based institutions.

To enable these goals to be met, a Science Park stimulates and manages the flow of knowledge and technology amongst universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets; it facilitates the creation and growth of innovation-based companies through incubation and spin-off processes; and provides other value-added services together with high quality space and facilities.

* The terms “Technology Park” or “Research Park” are used as synonyms.

Business Incubator

An agreement for the definition of the term “business incubator” could not yet be reached. Besides some issues of lesser importance an important matter of discussion was the question if a difference should be made between business incubators (“with walls”) and “business incubation programs” (not necessarily “with walls”). In the following we provide a “work version”, a possible definitions—clearly not yet agreed by the Summit.

A Business Incubator is an economic and social development entity designed to advise potential start-up companies, help them to establish, and accelerate their growth and success through a comprehensive business assistance program. The main goal is to produce successful businesses that will leave the program financially viable and freestanding. These graduates create jobs, revitalize communities, commercialize new technologies and create wealth for local and national economies.

Critical to the work of a business incubator is:

Alternatively, replacing the last bullet of the above definition: Business Incubators gain added value by providing access to appropriate rental space and flexible leases in an incubator facility.

To invite all associations to contribute to the discussion, we provide the definitions proposed to the Summit, but not yet having been adopted were.

Business Incubation Programs

Business Incubation Programs are aimed at promoting economic development of its community by supporting start-up companies and their business development. These programs offer services to support the establishment and development of new / small and medium companies.

Business Incubator

A Business Incubator (Business & Innovation Center) is a physical facility aimed promoting economic development of its community by supporting start-up companies and their business development. These centers provide as “basic services”:

Business Support Center

A Business Support Center is aimed promoting economic development of its community by supporting start-up companies and their business development and offers services to support the establishment and development of new as well as existing small and medium companies.

Besides these general services, according to local needs and possibilities there may be other offers like email or postal addresses, Internet, copier, fax, access to telephone, meeting room, exhibition hall etc.