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Summary

Because they share similar missions of promoting business development and employment, many incubators and research parks work together to achieve economic development outcomes. Here's a list of do's and don'ts for creating productive relationships between incubators and research parks.

Teaming up: Incubators, research parks partner to form innovation chain

by Linda Knopp

October 2006

Charlie D’Agostino considers himself a bit of a baseball aficionado. That’s why the executive director of the Louisiana Business & Technology Center in Baton Rouge uses a sports analogy to describe the relationship between business incubators and research parks. He likens incubation programs to baseball’s farm clubs, which nurture young, inexperienced players and give them an opportunity to hone their skills and develop their confidence in preparation for a move to the big leagues.

“Everyone would love to attract that large company into their community, but sometimes in economic development, you have to bunt to get that runner into scoring position before you can score a run in the game,” D’Agostino says. “The incubator clients are the ones that get you into position to score. They become the home runs later on, as the research park helps them grow into their abilities.”

Because they share similar missions of promoting business development and employment, many incubators and research parks work together to provide a continuum of economic development opportunities for their regions. Incubators provide the testing ground for new businesses and new technologies. And as incubator clients graduate, they move into other facilities within the research park. But like the relationship between baseball’s farm clubs and their major league counterparts, partnerships between incubators and research parks must be nurtured so firms can make a seamless transition between the two.

To learn more about how incubators work with research parks, NBIA interviewed several members about their experiences. Some of these incubators are located within research parks, with both programs operating under the same parent organization with a joint staff. Others are located miles apart, with each program maintaining its own staff and operating structure. Regardless of the structure of the relationship, incubator managers say the key to ensuring a successful partnership is drawing on each program’s strengths and focusing on their synergies. Read on for more do’s and don’ts of creating productive relationships between incubators and research parks.

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Keywords: partnerships -- organizational/corporate, research park, strategic partnerships, technology incubator

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