Promoting sustainable entrepreneurship through business incubators, accelerators and innovation hubs

A guide for policymakers and practitioners on the work done by innovation organizations

Incubators, accelerators, innovation hubs, centres of excellence and entrepreneurship hubs are springing up across the globe as new types of organizations that support and promote entrepreneurship. From the perspective of the ILO, it is crucial to understand whether these innovation organizations can sustainably contribute to long-term enterprise and job creation or have a longer-term impact on local entrepreneurship ecosystems.

This document develops a typology of different innovation organizations and compares how they ‘work’, i.e., their business models, target groups and services offered. A subsequent chapter then provides a reflection on how incubators and accelerators differ from more traditional business development service providers and how they promote entrepreneurship. The document closes with critical reflections on the effectiveness and impact of incubators and accelerators as well as practical guidance on how to assess whether an innovation organization constitutes an appropriate solution for a given context.

This document therefore tries to build an understanding on how innovation organizations work and how they can be strengthened within their local entrepreneurship ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and facilitate sustainable business growth.