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Don't just count on dropping a line and getting bites. Here's how to calculate how many companies are likely to take the bait if you build an incubator in your community.

Fishing for Future Clients

by Sally Hayhow

October 1998

What if you held an incubator opening and nobody came?

Cliché, yes, but that is the question that keeps incubator study teams up at night. Where do you probe for reliable information on the number and type of clients an incubator can expect to attract? Other parts of a feasibility study can seem cut and dried in comparison. To say with assurance who will qualify, or even want to qualify, for admission to a proposed incubator – that's a fishing expedition of another sort.

"Market analysis is more of an art than a science. There is no single or fixed way you can definitively measure the market for an incubator," says seasoned incubator feasibility consultant Jim Greenwood, who finds incubators not particularly unique in this respect. "Markets simply do not lend themselves to simple or quick-and-easy measurements."

Expert opinions run the gamut on what information will reveal the truth about your entrepreneurial pool. And for every opinion there's a success to prove it and a failure to disprove it. So NBIA asked incubator developers, managers and consultants to divulge what truly worked for them or what advice they would give in hindsight.

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Keywords: best practices, economic impact of incubation, client selection/admissions

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