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

Tips for managing more than one incubator

by Andrea Gibson

April 1999

To directors of a single business incubator already juggling client assistance, fundraising, facility management and other duties taking on management of a second or third incubator site might seem like sticking your feet in a fire. How do you oversee twice as many clients? Be in two places at the same time? How many resources can the incubators share? And why would you want more than one incubator in the first place?

Incubator CEOs and the communities they serve have asked these questions and come up with compelling reasons to forge ahead with multiple sites. In fact, it is a growing trend. Dozens of multisite projects exist whereas even five years ago you could count the number of incubation networks on less than two hands.

In the incubation industry, which could have coined the phrase "spread thin," multiple site management is far from foolhardy. There are many circumstances in which multiple sites offer the best deal: expanding the service reach of an incubation program, providing more space when a first site overflows, diversifying the types of clients a program can serve or creating an industry cluster. Additionally, multiple sites can provide opportunities to maximize employee skills and create revenue streams required to hire more specialized staff. It can also increase the programs' overall sustainability by impacting a wider geographic area and increasing sponsorships and champions of all types.

Here are eight pointers from those in the thick of multiple-site management.

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Keywords: financial management -- incubator, incubator network, staffing -- incubator, stakeholder relationship management

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