Spurring innovation through SME incubators
Incubators are designed to speed up the growth and success of start-ups through mentoring, networking and innovative ideas. They are relevant in a variety of different sectors, not only in information and communications technology, according to panellists at the World Export Development Forum in Kigali on 16 September.
During a parallel session on ‘Spurring innovation through SME incubators’, the speakers said that each incubator is unique and must be built to address local needs and the local business environment, providing the right set of tailored services. It is important for incubators to gain credibility in the communities that they are working in, to facilitate networking and be run in an entrepreneurial way, evolving as necessary.
June Lavelle, President of Lavelle & Associates, said that innovation comes from creativity, which is a key component in the success of any incubator. Conducting research and using customized approaches to address needs is important.
It is in the absence of creativity that networking comes in handy, said Josiah Mugambi, Executive Director of IHUB Kenya. He added that innovation comes from cross-pollination and idea sharing.
Incubators should also be inspired by what is going on around them in the economy, according to Ihsa Solmaz, Vice President of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization (KOSGEB) in Turkey.
For instance, a tech hub can bring together surrounding agri-businesses to create innovative solutions in rural areas.
Successful incubators regularly measure results and report on performance, including graduation rates, investment, jobs and company survival rates. KOSGEB, which has extensive experience in a range of incubator models, is ready to offer training on incubator development to African governments at no charge.
Read the full summary of the parallel session on ‘Spurring innovation through SME incubators’.
WEDF is organized by ITC, the only United Nations organization with an exclusive focus on assisting SMEs. The event is hosted by the Rwanda Development Board.