The Business Incubation could be affiliated with a university but should not be administered or controlled by one. The outlook of university administrators is often technical, bureaucratic or political – seldom entrepreneurial. When the university is willing to provide a vacant space for the incubator and to cover some of its costs, it is not easy for the incubator Board and manager to fend off attempts at interference in operations. The professors may see the incubator clients as sources of consulting income and business experience, as well as offering opportunities for graduate students to write dissertations and to earn some money. The incubator clients may not be fully aware of the faculty’s strengths or potential for technology transfer.
An earlier study of the value-added services offered by selected universities to their incubator clients had placed the use of a photocopier, ‘student employees’ and ‘rent breaks’ at the top of the ranking. Today, however, some of the most successful incubators in the USA and in China are linked to universities and technology parks. The BI can benefit by linkage to a knowledge base, as in the case of the new Panama Technology Business Accelerator.
The major disconnects between the cultures of academia and of enterprises are:
For these reasons, spin-offs from faculty research to an incubator company are quite rare in developing countries. There is also the reluctance to sully one’s academic reputation by engaging in commercial activity, rather than getting recognition for publishing learned papers. This is changing with the emergence of the ‘entrepreneurial university’ and its move towards the ‘learning enterprise’, offering the future prospect of a knowledge development continuum. Furthermore, private corporate universities are emerging, which combine the best of both worlds.
Advantages to the BI of linkage with a reputed technical university include the prestige that this institution brings, as well as the dynamic exchange of ideas and the rigour of academic analyses. The incubator can benefit by synergies through the use of computer systems, libraries, data bases, special scientific equipment, faculty expertise, internships and part-time employment of senior students.
In turn, the university benefits from the practical demonstrations of technology transfer, as well as from the use of the BI as a ‘living laboratory’ for students and the faculty. The challenge is to mobilize the reputation (and resources) of the university, while maintaining the autonomy (and mission) of the incubator management team. When the ethical and conflict-of-interest guidelines are clearly drawn, the interactions between faculty and business can be fruitful. A university with a strong research activity can help catalyze technology venture creation in the region by generating competent personnel,
The host institution should clearly specify their plans on sustainability of the incubation center
Universities and academic institutions are qualified for support