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

Student accelerators help incubators expand services to youthful entrepreneurs

by Dinah Adkins

August 2011

Approximately 20 percent of North American incubation programs are sponsored by universities and colleges, so it should be no surprise that many have developed student incubators and programs. Even incubators that aren't operated by universities have started to focus on student entrepreneurs. Here we highlight two veteran student entrepreneurship programs in Indiana.

Located in Fort Wayne, Ind., Northeast Indiana Innovation Center has operated its Student Venture Lab for three years, although President and CEO Karl LaPan says investing in student ventures only began in January. Since student founders tend to work on their businesses part time, they are given six months to prepare an investment pitch and/or secure initial customer acceptance. If they're successful, they receive another six months to close external funding. NIIC provides incubator space and small living stipends ($600 to $1,200 per founder), permitting students to spend more time on their business. The incubator's seed investments in each venture include $2,500 in cash plus $3,000 in in-kind services for 3 percent equity. An additional $2,500 in cash and $3,000 in in-kind services are available for 5 percent equity. Students must apply for the additional funds, and LaPan and Student Venture Lab Program Manager Steve Franks decide whether the investment makes sense.

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Keywords: incubator, economic development, for-profit incubators, special focus incubator, technology incubator, venture capital

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