Future Research Questions
The study uncovered a number of areas that would benefit from future research, which have been discussed previously in many of the recommendation in this report. A summary is included here, in no particular order:
- Drivers of Success in Business Incubation — The sector would benefit from a deeper investment in understanding the drivers of success in particularly effective business incubation models and model components. These investments should be paired with pilot initiatives that seek to test the findings and replicate these models in a variety of environments.
- “Type-based” Learning — Some types of incubation models such as social incubation, rural incubation and ICT incubation face distinct operating challenges. As a result, they often require distinct services, processes and resources. The sector would benefit from more type-based or vertical resources for incubator managers.
- University-based Incubation — The sector would benefit from a deeper exploration of the drivers of success (and failure) in business incubation organizations with strong links to universities and academic institutions. These types of organizations may have an increasingly important role in promoting growth in a knowledge-based economy, according to the “triple helix” theory of development. An improved understanding of how to make them work in developing economies is needed.
- Virtual and Remote Incubation — Virtual and remote incubation are among the most promising new incubation business models, but they have yet to be studied in a systematic way. The sector would benefit from deeper understanding of the drivers of these programs’ effectiveness.
- Pre-incubation — The sector would benefit from additional, formalized insight into effective forms of pre-incubation to attract potential entrepreneurs and into the effective selection of entrepreneurs and businesses with growth potential.
- Improved Monitoring and Evaluation Methods — Current business incubation tracking methods emphasize job and business creation and often miss the broader impacts of many business incubation organizations. The sector would benefit from improved approaches to capturing the full extent of outcomes and impacts.
- Public-Private Partnerships — The sector would benefit from additional learning on effective forms of stakeholder involvement in incubation organizations, including formal PPP models and more informal roles relating to influence and advocacy. The learning would help to support founding partners, in particular, who may be new to the task of running organizations with multiple, cross-sector stakeholders.
- Incubation and SME Financing — In their current form, most business incubation organizations are not well designed to address the financing gap for entrepreneurs directly. There are notable exceptions, however, and some organizations are developing innovative financing mechanisms, brokering relationships between clients and investors, and influencing the local business environment by advising the public and private investment community. Managers would benefit from more systematic capture and dissemination of the sector’s solutions to client financing needs.
- Optimizing the Policy Environment for Technology Entrepreneurs — The sector would benefit from improved knowledge and advisory services that guide policymakers on providing regulatory, legal and policy support to emerging technology entrepreneurs. These services should not only capture the policy innovation that is occurring in many developing economies, but also diffuse it through accessible, Web-based policy tools that may include the development of a generic framework for supporting the sector. This framework should contain leading-edge thinking on issues such as start-up and registration incentives, intellectual property protection for ICT companies, and flexible HR laws that accommodate the particular needs of small businesses.
- Diffusing a Culture of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. A culture that does not reward entrepreneurial behaviors seemed to be a major barrier to entrepreneurship and innovation in most of the Initiative’s business environments. Meaningful culture change will require systematic investment in changing attitudes and beliefs, but the sector can begin by learning from what has worked in different environments. Additional investment in developing and diffusing effective strategies for promoting pro-innovation attitudes would benefit donors, policymakers and practitioners.
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