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

Graduates are giving back to business incubation and their cycle of sharing is advancing the industry

by Sarah Dahlberg

June 2000

When Jim Hayward built his company, Collaborative Group Ltd., at the Long Island High Technology Incubator (LIHTI) in Stony Brook, N.Y., then-director Pat Hession had no doubt Hayward would be a success. Hession knew Collaborative, fueled by Hayward's drive and dedication, would make LIHTI proud. What he didn't realize was that Collaborative would make the incubator, indeed the entire community, a better place.

Collaborative, actually a group of companies that provides service and technology to both the consumer products and biotechnology industries, graduated in 1991 from LIHTI. Hayward's positive experience with incubation – coupled with his strong commitment to make New York a true force in the biotechnology industry – drove him to become a permanent part of LIHTI's success.

In 1994, Hayward and other financial partners contributed to the cost of a 30,000-square-foot contract biomanufacturing facility at the incubator. Collaborative's investment in the project was upward of $5 million. One of Collaborative's companies, Collaborative BioAlliance, which develops and manufactures new drugs both for Collaborative and for outside clients, moved into the facility. As an anchor tenant, BioAlliance has provided incubator clients everything from research lab technicians to lab space to services at cost or free. "[BioAlliance] is an economic engine of its own because it encourages the development of companies that don't yet have the resources to build such a facility," Hayward says.

Not every incubator benefits from this degree of largess from graduates, but as business incubation programs mature, so does the philanthropy among companies who have been involved in those programs. And incubation staff who have fostered the cycle of giving say it's an asset every incubation program should fully develop. The giving can take many forms, from advice for clients to public relations for the industry to the trickle-down effects that an incubator's equity or royalty investments can have on an entire community or state.

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Keywords: technology commercialization, special-focus incubator, specialized equipment/facilities, technology commercialization, technology incubator, university partnerships

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