7th International Summit of Business Incubation and Science/Technology Park Associations
Richmond, Virginia, United States (18 May 2003)
The Summit continued the work based on agreements and resolutions of earlier Summits and focused on the following issues.
1. Definition of the terms "Business Incubation Program" and "Business Incubator"
The Summit adopted the following definition:
A Business Incubation Program is an economic and social development process designed to advise potential start-up companies and, through a comprehensive business assistance program, help them establish and accelerate their growth and success. The main goal is to produce successful businesses that will leave the program, in a timely manner, financially viable and freestanding. These graduates create jobs, revitalize communities, commercialize new technologies and create wealth for local and national economies.
Critical to the success of a Business Incubation Program is:
- Management that develops and orchestrates business, marketing and management resources and relationships tailored to the needs of the business clients
- Shared services, training, technology support and equipment
- Selection of clients and an acceleration process by which businesses become more independ-ent and progress to graduation
- Assistance in obtaining the financing necessary for business growth
Business Incubation Programs gain added value by providing access to appropriate rental space and flexible leases in an incubator facility.
Note: In this definition the term "Business Incubation Program" may be replaced by the words "Business Incubator". Furthermore the Summit acknowledged that depending on the specific situation in a country the provision of appropriate rental space may be added to the critical success factors.
2. International Information System on Business Incubators, Science/Technology Parks and their Associations
Referring to the agreement to establish an online information system "SPICA Directory Online", SDO was presented in its development version. This system is based on the book "SPICA Directory", published at the "World Conference on Business Incubation" in Rio de Janeiro. This book was a re-sult of information contributions from all associations and other partners. Publication was made pos-sible through the sponsorship of IASP (International Science Park Association), NBIA (National Business Incubation Association), PIN (Pacific Incubator Network) and IBI (International Business Incubator). SPICE Group voluntarily took the initiative for realizing this project as well as for trans-ferring the information into an online information system. Some associations have agreed to provide a one-time voluntary contribution of EURO 100 to cover part the cost of developing and implementing the online system. Other associations are encouraged to follow this example.
"SPICA Directory Online" needs further development steps to become fully operational:
- completion of the data transfer from the book into the online system
- update of all information in the system (partly done / in progress)
- search for new information (associations, incubators, parks)
- implementation of a search system (partly developed)
- implementation of a password system enabling the individual associations, incubators and parks to update their own profile in SDO
SPICE Group will provide the Summit participants (as well as other associations) with the informa-tion necessary to access SDO. The associations will check their information profiles and help with updating the data.
3. Developing the Services of Business Incubators and Securing their Quality
Continuing the discussion process that led to the Resolutions of the Dortmund Summit, two concrete topics were discussed both with the aim to provide concrete examples of existing instruments and tools and thereby encouraging further activities in this field:
- The Certification System of ADT, German Association of Business Incubation and Tech-nology Centers, aimed at providing incentives to business incubators for evaluating and de-veloping their services. Developed by members of the association, this voluntary certification system has been operational for about a year, and has received growing interest. Some ten in-cubators have been certified by this system with a clearly defined set of criteria and the evaluation carried out by a team of three experts (one ADT representative one representative of the state incubator association plus a manager of a "neighbor incubator"). More informa-tion can be obtained from ADT (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- A Company Evaluation Software to analyze the needs for targeted consulting support. This software also usable for analyzing the business incubators themselves has been imple-mented in several countries already and recently was presented in Germany and Lithuania to an international group of participants. In a pilot project these participants will use the soft-ware in their day-to-day incubator work and after about three months time report on experi-ence gained from this work. Based on these results further recommendations concerning the use of such software tools will be developed. More information can be obtained from the software developer QUANTEL Ltd (email: email@example.com)
After discussing a number of proposals the Summit agreed on the next meeting to be held in Japan, Kitakyushu City at the "International Venture Incubation Festa", November 12-14, 2003