An investigation of international operational best practice, in global incubation centres, and their possible application to the Innovation in Business Centre (IiBC) at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology
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‘Business incubation is a business support process that accelerates the successful development of start-up and fledgling companies by providing entrepreneurs with an array of targeted resources and services. These services are usually developed or orchestrated by incubator management and offered both in the business incubator and through its network of contacts. A business incubator’s main goal is to produce successful firms that will leave the program financially viable and freestanding. These incubator graduates have the potential to create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, commercialize new technologies, and strengthen local and national economies’. (NBIA 2010) All incubator representative organisations have different standards that they believe, business incubators should reach, in order to become models of best practice. However, at the moment, there are no internationally recognisable and comparable benchmarks. The information on innovation and incubation is vast and varied. This study found that there was little specific information on internationally recognisable benchmark criteria used in incubation centres (chapter 2). The study undertaken was a qualitative data based study, based on publicly available information (chapter 3). There was limited information available from individual incubation centres. The study specifically avoided critiquing the activities and operations of the IiBC at GMIT, to avoid any harmful or incorrect assumptions being made. The scope of the study did not allow for the benchmarking of different centres, but an investigation of some of the components of best practice in operation in different global centres, and recommend their possible application to the Innovation in Business Centre at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology. The findings of the study were that best practice could be generalised into eight main benchmark headings (chapter 4 and 5). The study went on to highlight examples of best practice in these areas that may be of particular interest to the IiBC- some of which could be implemented immediately and others with the cooperation of other centres. The study concludes (chapter 6) that without incubators coming together to agree benchmark criteria, they are losing out on potential synergies. Most of the recommendations would be easier to implement with the co-operation of other centres, locally, nationally and internationally. Networking alone, with other incubators, could offer benefits on benchmarking, marketing and resource utilisation. The report also puts forward numerous recommendations for implementation at the IiBC. In the absence better networking, and thus better benchmarking, the achievement of corporate goals is the most powerful benchmarking tool that is currently available at the IiBC. Corporate governance, and the importance that the GMIT, and the IiBC at GMIT places on governance, should assist greatly in this process and should insure that the IiBC always strives to become a model of best practice- no matter what benchmark criteria this is being compared against.
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