National Business Incubation Association; Your source for knowledge and networks in business incubation

How Venture Development Organizations relate to the incubation industry

February 2012

The U.S. Economic Development Administration recently funded a project by the State Science & Technology Institute of Westerville, Ohio, to create the Regional Innovation Acceleration Network to establish and support a virtual community of Venture Development Organizations across the United States. But what exactly are VDOs? And how do they relate to traditional business incubation programs?

To find out, NBIA asked Mark Skinner, vice president of SSTI and RIAN director, to describe some of the characteristics of a VDO. Skinner says that although VDOs share a series of attributes, few economic development programs possess them all.

As it stands, the VDO designation is basically a benchmark, a series of features and qualifications that incubation programs or accelerators, among other groups involved in economic development, might have. These include a regional aspect, a network aspect, access to capital and other attributes. SSTI's RIAN Web site ( offers tools to determine which attributes a particular program possesses.

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Keywords: advocacy, economic development, networking

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