Accelerators and incubators can be very effective at helping entrepreneurs to commercialize technology. It starts with having the right process. Assessment is the first step. Then, targeted assistance must be provided over a period of time that may last 3 months or a year. Accelerators and incubators are a natural fit for this process. Five barriers to commercialization often prohibit entrepreneurs from getting to market: (1) business model and strategy, (2) market, (3) technology and intellectual property (IP) protection, (4) management, and (5) capital. Evaluating each entrepreneur client, and then determining which of the barriers require action and the specific actions necessary, results in a commercialization plan, or roadmap. In an incubator programs, the process is individualized, with a plan developed for each client tailored to its individual needs. Milestones are established and tracked by staff and the entrepreneur. Mentors and staff coach the entrepreneurs through the process, and make introductions to funders, legal, and other resources, as needed. On the other hand, accelerator programs for technology businesses utilize a cohort process to help clients to move their products to market. The cohort is educated about commercialization through the accelerator curriculum (delivered over the course of the program), and the cohort itself adds an element of peer-to-peer networking and assistance. Then, mentors provide individualized assistance to each entrepreneur. Accelerators are structured with milestones for the cohort. The Demo Day is the ultimate milestone, closing out the accelerator program with a big event to showcase the entrepreneurs and their products. Both universities operating incubators or accelerators aimed at enhancing commercialization of university IP, and economic development organizations assisting with business startup and growth, and generating economic impact, can put strong processes in place to help their clients to successfully and more rapidly get their products to market.
- Improving cluster performance through entrepreneurial support programs
- Second Stage Companies: What’s All the Buzz About?
- Targeting early stage companies with the right entrepreneurial support model (to create and grow successful businesses)
- What is the value of a Startup Weekend? (Hint: It’s not starting businesses.)
- Incubation is the right model for a “Grow Your Own” strategy (Part Two)