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

Business incubation goes corporate: What big business gets out of growing small businesses (besides money)

by Carol James

August 2001

Coca-Cola, H.B. Fuller, Intelligent Systems, Lucent, Matsushita, Monsanto, Reuters, Sony, Sun.

No, we're not just name-dropping. These are the names of some publicly traded companies that tout forays into business incubation programs. Most of them are relative newcomers to the incubation concept. But at least one corporate incubation program has been around for more than a decade: Intelligent Systems Incubator in Norcross, Ga., has been operating since 1990.

Although the corporate model typically involves a private, for-profit company that owns, funds and operates an incubation program, those in the business will tell you that corporate incubation is more than just financial sponsorship. Corporate incubation programs serve their clients with the ultimate goal of meeting one or more specific objectives of the corporation.

Corporations operate incubators for reasons as varied as the products and services they deliver. Corporate executives exploring incubation and incubator managers interested in developing corporate partnerships can count on one thing: You won't find a template for corporate incubation. Every program is different.

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Keywords: intellectual property, client selection/admissions, partnerships -- organizational/corporate, sponsor

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