The trainees represented more than 50 countries and a wide range of organizations including business incubators, technology parks, entrepreneurs, universities, government agencies, business support organizations such as regional development agencies, and financiers. The training program consisted of the following modules: Incubation process, mentoring, financing incubators and incubator clients, incubator marketing, technology commercialization, virtual incubation services, and IFC’s SME Tookit on Building the Capacity of Small Businesses. In more detail:
- Incubation Process: This course addressed the planning and governance of an incubator, including the key issues of incubator impact and sustainability, stakeholder engagement, selecting incubator clients including entry/exit criteria, and monitoring of incubator impact and operations.
- Establishing a Mentoring Program: Key questions this module discussed included mentoring, coaching and counseling, and highlighting their differences; how to identify mentor and mentee needs; how to find mentors; matching mentors and mentees; setting the rules for engagement and commitment; measuring progress.
- Financing Incubators and Incubator clients: This course addressed incubator revenue streams including rentals, equity, royalties, and donors and commercial sponsors; and also included a selection of useful financial tools. It furthermore discussed financing requirements for the different stages of business growth.
- Incubator Marketing: The main question this module focused on was how to build a tailor-made marketing plan to position the incubator in a given market. This included: attracting and selecting the right tenants; effective marketing tools; networking and partnering with the right stakeholders; opportunities for outsourcing services; awareness programs for matching inventors with innovators.
- Technology Commercialization: This course addressed the role of incubators in technology commercialization; exploring the roles that intellectual property protection and licensing play in the commercialization process; managing expectations regarding the results of technology commercialization; steps in the process from pre-incubation over incubation to post-incubation.
- Virtual Services: Focus of this module was how to develop an effective virtual incubation model from feasibility planning to marketing. It included content selection; content architecture; and highlight enterprises that better fit virtual incubation.
- SME Tookit: Building the Capacity of Small Businesses: This course highlighted how incubators and business development service providers can take advantage of the small business management training content, tools, and peer-to-peer networking features available in IFC’s Web-based SME Toolkit (www.smetoolkit.org) in order to help build the capacity of small business clients.
Training participants indicated a very high level of satisfaction, rating the training modules as ‘excellent’ and being of great help for their work and operations. In several cases, participants stated that the training provided them with the necessary and robust skills and knowledge to implement plans and initiatives they were not confident about before joining the training. Highly appreciated was the opportunity to share experiences and ideas with experts from other countries. Very often the training participants found out that they face very similar realities and challenges despite all cultural and other differences.
Your experiences wanted!
The main lesson we learned in Florianopolis: Learning is sharing. We therefore herewith invite you to submit examples and case studies from your specific incubator management and planning background to be added to the training modules as listed above. If you consider examples and experiences from your work relevant for the seven modules and questions listed above, please contact Samiha Boulos at sboulos(@)worldbank.org. Together, we have the unique chance to build and enhance the first global incubator training.
How to become a trainer or training host
The infoDev Incubator Training Program will be formally launched in March 2010. Information on course offerings and fees will be made available at that time. Please subscribe to the idisc newsletter to stay informed. Inquiries regarding becoming an infoDev trainer or hosting a training course in your country or region can be directed to Samiha Boulos at sboulos(@)worldbank.org.