How successful are University hi tech Incubators?


How successful are University hi tech Incubators in terms of:

% That succeed for 1, 3, or 5 years (especially if we can compare this to non Incubated businesses)

Return on Investment (or, better, Payback Period: how long does it take for them to make back the start-up investment).

Successful : profitable independent company generating non trivial income. (Net Revenue sufficient to have at least one employee, say $100K/yr.)


asked May 13 '12 at 12:00
Clay Nichols
737 points
  • What is "successful"? – Dnbrv 8 years ago
  • Stanford seems to have done okay ;-) – Steve Jones 8 years ago
  • The data isn't readily available. You'd have to do a lot of primary source research of current incubators. – Henry The Hengineer 8 years ago
  • I think the better thing about that is just to ask them, this may vary a lot from the incubator and the environment. TMHO you can't expect a meaningful global average. – As Te R 8 years ago

2 Answers


Techcrunch took a stab at answering this - said that 90% fail, and that it was a good thing.

answered Feb 5 '13 at 04:25
Jim Galley
9,952 points
  • Agreed. The part of the equation lodged in academia can inhibit start-ups in a number of ways. Tech-transfer offices in most universities are ill-equiped for solid patent guidance (with a few notable exceptions). Academic excellence is not a substitute for business acumen and execution. I think VCs have a healthy amount of skepticism when looking at these types of start-ups. – Yorick 7 years ago


How successful are all incubators? Universities have disadvantages, yes, but also advantages, depending on the sector. If you need lab validation (or discovery), no place better! If you need cheap but highly skilled workers, try grad students.

Any place that tries to encourage lots of startups is going to run into the same problems -- university or no: concentration of skilled workers. Sufficient top managerial experience in the area. Access to capital, startup-savvy accountants, lawyers, etc. So a university in the boondocks, just like any other for-profit in the boondocks, is going to have a tougher time than one that has a well-developed cluster around it.

The answer about patent skills is true of all patent attorneys, not just universities.

For actual statistics, go to (natl. business incubation assn.), (Assn Univ Tech Managers -- really tech transfer officers) and perhaps (Univ. Research Parks).

answered Feb 5 '13 at 10:14
56 points

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