Virtual incubation aims to bring services and tools provided by traditional business incubation to the entrepreneur, in contrast to the entrepreneur availing those services and tools at a fixed location. In addition, understanding that an entrepreneur has varying needs, virtual incubation provides a more diverse range of these services and tools. This includes outreach services, drop-in services and facilities, online tools, consultancy, mentoring, and networking. The pilot project focused on Vietnam and aimed to assess the cost-effectiveness, sustainability, and impact of services and tools provided to entrepreneurs through this intervention.
The results of the pilot were evident from the onset. More than 6,000 beneficiaries were reached within a relatively short period of one year. Entrepreneurs quickly recognized the different sets of tools and services provided through virtual incubation. They replicated and adopted these to suit their own businesses. Two successful graduates of the acceleration program offered through this pilot attracted investments in the range of $1 million–$10 million. The implementation also brought forth a rich collection of lessons and best practices.
The pilot program found that this type of virtual incubation is highly relevant for countries with poor or low levels of infrastructure, rigid systems of governance, and markets where there is a significant disconnect between public and private sectors in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. Countries with burgeoning youth populations, where an inherently entrepreneurial community is evident, can also benefit from a virtual incubation model.