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Submitting a Proposal: NBIA Conference Sessions

Deadline: Friday, Dec. 5

NBIA’s 75-minute conference sessions will take place Monday, April 27, through Wednesday, April 29. We cannot guarantee anyone a specific day or time on the schedule. Before submitting a proposal, please make sure you are available to present on any of the three days.  

Before you fill out the online proposal form, please read the following information about the Audience ProfileSession Categories, Session FormatSelection Criteria, Speaker Information and Proposal Process. Once you have reviewed this important information, you can submit your proposal by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. If you have any questions, e-mail

Audience Profile

NBIA conference attendees represent a broad spectrum of people engaged in entrepreneur support and new business growth, from incubator developers and managers to university officials and economic development professionals. Our attendees come from many types of communities and programs, and their perspectives and challenges vary greatly. The audience also reflects a range of experience levels, from longtime NBIA members to people who are just starting to investigate business incubation. The conference attracts a significant number of international attendees, so we seek sessions with content that can be applied globally. Despite their differences, all attendees are looking for practical tools and techniques they can apply to their programs immediately. We strongly encourage presenters to ensure the information they share is broadly applicable and not unique to their specific programs. 

Session Categories

This year, all sessions will fall under one of the following categories:

  • Strategy: Session focus will be on program strategies incubation professionals can implement at their organizations. These sessions provide frameworks and various techniques on a particular topic, with the goal of being a starting point for attendees who want to begin these strategies themselves. These sessions can target all experience levels, but we will particularly look for ones aimed at more experienced managers.
  • Toolkit: These sessions will provide insight on the policies, management strategies and operational knowledge necessary for running an incubator or other entrepreneurial support program smoothly. Participants will walk away with actionable ideas for day-to-day operations, facilities management and other “how-to” issues. These sessions can target all experience levels, but will be particularly good for new managers.
  • Ecosystem: These sessions will explore the broader entrepreneurial support ecosystem and the types of organizations with which incubators often partner as well as approaches many programs incorporate. Some examples include angel networks, coworking spaces, seed accelerators and hacker spaces. These sessions will primarily be for all experience levels.
  • Expert/Research: Though the NBIA conference is not academic or scientific in nature, NBIA welcomes researchers and others whose work focuses on entrepreneurship, small business and enterprise growth. Please note: These sessions should focus on the practical lessons to be gleaned from the research, not on the presentation of an academic paper.

Session Format

This year, we are looking to make the sessions as interactive and engaging as possible, so we would like all content to be conveyed in one of these formats:

  • Expert Panels: These sessions will feature panels of no more than three people providing different perspectives on a topic. Conference attendees will represent a broad range of view points, so we would like to construct panels made of up different types of programs, different geographic locations, etc. You can choose your own panelists, or NBIA can help you identify topic experts.
  • Open Forums: Select this format if you would like to facilitate a discussion with other attendees on a specific topic. The goal is to encourage questions and conversation from a variety of perspectives.
  • Interactive/Innovative Sessions: NBIA members are known for creating dynamic events within their own programs, and this is your opportunity to design something similar for the NBIA conference! Interactive, hands-on programs are welcome. Tell us what your idea is for a creative, non-traditional session, and if you are selected, we’ll work with you to make it happen.
  • Lecture Presentations: These sessions will involve one to three people providing lecture-style presentations, reserving the last 15 to 20 minutes of the session for questions and answers. This is not our preferred style of presentation, but we recognize that there are cases in which it is the most appropriate.
  • Community: This type of session provides an opportunity for people within a specific sector to come together to connect and discuss topics and relevant issues. Example sectors include bioscience, kitchen, university, technology, etc.

Selection Criteria

NBIA seeks to fulfill the educational needs of our diverse audience by creating a balanced program that is comprehensive and reflects a multitude of perspectives. A session selection committee will review the proposals and make decisions based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to audience needs. We look for sessions that address topics of interest to a large group of conference attendees. We also consider the diversity of the programs with which our attendees work and strive to offer a variety of sessions to meet those different needs.
  • Quality of the proposal content. Because most of our audience members are industry practitioners (rather than academics), we select sessions that will provide tools and techniques people can implement in their own programs. Successful proposals will provide industry-specific examples and include – but not be limited to – case studies of programs with proven track records.
  • Contribution to the overall conference content. As the selection committee discusses proposals, we will consider how the topic, format and specific content of a proposed session will fit into the overall scheme of the event. The selection committee will consider each proposal in the context of the overall conference, assessing how the topic, format and specific content fit with other sessions.
  • Presenter qualifications. We seek presenters who communicate effectively through lively, organized and well-prepared presentations and helpful handouts. In reviewing a proposal, we consider the presenter’s previous training/speaking experience and familiarity with the business incubation industry. In many cases, we also will contact references.

Speaker Information

  • We welcome proposals from experienced presenters, international speakers and new voices who haven’t spoken at our events previously.
  • As a nonprofit association, NBIA is unable to offer remuneration for session presentations, so all session presenters must register for the conference if they plan to participate in activities other than their presentations. They also must cover their own travel and accommodation expenses. Speakers who are able to participate in conference activities only on the day of their presentation may register for a one-day speaker rate of $200.  
  • Do not use the conference presentation as a vehicle to advertise products or services. Conference sessions are meant to provide information for industry professionals, not to make sales pitches. Attendees will be dissatisfied if they sense a presenter is providing promotional material for his or her own benefit.
  • If your proposal is accepted, NBIA will ask you to provide an electronic copy of your PowerPoint presentation and other handouts in advance of the conference so we can provide them to attendees through a password-protected section on our Web site. By making the presentations available in advance, we give attendees the opportunity to come prepared with printed handouts. If handouts aren’t available in advance, attendees usually will express their displeasure during the session or on the evaluations.  

Proposal Process

  • The deadline for submitting conference session proposals is Friday, Dec. 5. NBIA will not consider proposals submitted after this date. The selection committee will hold several meetings to discuss proposals in the late fall. You will be notified of the committee’s decision by the  middle of January.
  • Selected speakers will receive further instructions and material deadlines in February 2015. Presentations will take place during NBIA’s 29th International Conference on Business Incubation, April 26-29, 2015, in Denver.   

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Contact NBIA

Phone: (740) 593-4331
Fax: (740) 593-1996
PO Box 959
Athens, OH 45701-1565

If you would like additional information about hosting or participating in an NBIA event, send an e-mail to