The University Associated Business Incubation Landscape

This week we are pleased to present insights on University Associated Business Incubation landscape.


Our University Associated Business Incubation landscape is made up of 69 incubators, each with an average yearly operations budget of $548K, which equates to nearly $37.8M annually for the whole sample.

With regards to sector focus, over one-third (43%) of University Associated Business Incubators are concentrated on ICT, whilst Social/Environment incubation programs are the second biggest focus.  The third biggest sector in the University Associated Business Incubation landscape is Non-specialise (12%).  A further 9% are focused on Other. Incubators focused on Biotech and Cleantech have a small but equal share of sector focus with 6% each.


The majority (47 incubators) were founded between 2005 – 2014, including 28 between 2005 – 2009 and 19 between 2010 – 2014. Only 3 incubators were launched before 1994, 6 were founded between 1995- 1999 and 13 more were established between 2000 – 2004.

Key Performance Indicators

University Associated Business Incubators attracted a total of $636M, meaning each of the 69 incubators has received an average of $9.2M. With regard to deal flow University Associated Business Incubators as a whole receive 6 600 applications per year, equating to an average of 95 applications per incubator.

In the last 5 years, University Associated Business Incubators have created 24 200 jobs and over the same time period generated $2.2B in sales, equating to an average of $31.6M in sales per incubator.

World Rankings Announcement | University Associated Business Incubator: Live announcement from UBI Global Headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden 

On the 15th of December at 17:00 (GMT) UBI Global will award World Top 10 University Associated Business Incubators via a live web broadcast from UBI Global’s headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden.


Last month, UBI Global welcomed President and CEO of the I3P technology incubator, Marco Cantamessa, to our advisory board. Cantamessa graduated in Electronics Engineering from Politecnico di Torino, he is now a professor at the Department of Management and Production Engineering of this institution. He teaches Innovation Management and Product Development at Politecnico di Torino, and has lectured on the same subject in MBA programs offered by business schools such as ESCP, SIMT and EPFL.

Cantamessa’s research activities have been carried out in the field of operations management, addressing the two areas of Product development and Manufacturing systems. Research has been carried out within basic and applied research projects, both at national and European level. He is the author or co-author of more than one hundred scientific papers, of which many have been published in international peer-reviewed journals.

Cantamessa is a member of numerous boards of academic societies, journals and conferences (Design Society, Journal of Engineering Design, ICED, DESIGN). He also is President and CEO of the I3P technology incubator in Turin, President of PNICube, the Italian association of university incubators, and has acted as a board member and consultant to other organizations engaged in technology transfer.

I sent Marco some questions to get his expert opinion on the current state of the European and global incubation landscape.


What are some of the emerging trends in incubation globally?
Academic incubators have been pioneering actors in the world of high-tech startups, and have had a key role in the birth and structuring of startup ecosystems throughout the world. Nowadays, these same ecosystems have grown, with the emergence of new actors such as accelerators and corporate incubation programs. This raises questions on the future mission of university incubators. From my perspective, and given that most university incubators are public entities, they should find their way by working on complementarities with other private-sector entities, and being careful not to “crowd them out”.

Do you think there are any qualities that differentiate Italian incubators from their peers in Europe?
Italy’s startup ecosystem is now finally emerging to the limelight, and Italian university incubators have had a significant role in the past years. About a quarter of Italian startups have a close connection to academia, either as spinoffs, or having taken part to activities run by academic incubators. A characterizing feature of the Italian ecosystem is the ability of Italian graduates to get a lot of work done with limited funding, and an amazing capability in networking with industry, in order to involve existing competencies and assets in the development of their startups. In fact, many Italian startups are able to produce their goods and services without having to develop a “factory”, because factories are already there! Italian incubators have had a significant role in facilitating all this. In the end, incubators are a XXI century incarnation of the old-fashioned Italian piazza.

What advice would you give incubator managers in order to run their programs efficiently?
First of all, ask your shareholders and stakeholders to agree on a concrete and achievable vision, mission and set of objectives. If they are not able, cast a proposal that takes into account the reality of the local ecosystem, and make them agree to it.

Then, structure your business model (and particularly your revenue model) in a way that the incentives throughout the organization are coherent with the above.

Finally, find the right people! In my experience, the incubator team is the most critical asset. You need people who are authoritative, but highly respectful of entrepreneurs; bright, but without being prima donnas; having a global understanding of the startup industry, but also know local business; are ambitious, but are not looking for a quick buck. I’ve always been amazed to notice the attractiveness of startups and incubators to incompetents and crooks!

How can incubators attract investors and corporations to their programs?
First of all, by understanding their needs and objectives. Business angels and VCs are not all the same, and certainly different from one another. The same goes for firms, which come in many sizes and with different objectives.

In general, the incubator attracts these actors thanks to a broad and well-selected assortment of startups. Investors’ and corporations’ time is valuable and they will be more willing to travel to incubator A, where they can see a set of high-quality startups, rather than to incubator B, where they can see only a couple of startups of questionable quality.

At the same time, entrepreneurs’ time is even more valuable, which means that incubators should also select investors and corporations who really want to do business. You should put up a sign that says “Please, no time-wasters and dreamers”.


31Prior to the release of the regional and World University Business Incubator rankings, International Key Account Manager, Nick Stafunski, took a short train ride from Stockholm to Uppsala to give an hour long private benchmark presentation to Uppsala Innovation Centre’s staff and board members. The presentation is an exclusive feature for all UBI Global Gold Members and includes all benchmark information on the incubator including KPIs. As this presentation took place before the release of the regional and world rankings, Uppsala Innovation Centre’s position was not revealed to them at this time.

I joined Nick and caught up with UIC’s Marketing & Communications Manager, Stina Thor, to conduct a short interview to learn how this Gold Member is using their presentation to assess their incubators performance and make strategic plans for the future.

Why do you think it is important for UIC to take part in the Global Benchmark?
It’s important because this is the only possible way to be benchmarked worldwide. Before UBI Global came along an incubator could be ranked inside a specific country for example Sweden, but there was no global ranking. The benchmark is a vital tool for us to measure how we are working compared to other incubators in Europe and around the world.

Why did UIC choose to become a Gold Member?
We saw the option to receive a private live presentation as important because we wanted to have an in depth discussion regarding what the figures really say. This feature in the gold membership is a way to take parts of the data and ask questions to UBI interactively, regarding our results. Moreover to be able to do this together with the UIC personnel and the UIC board was also very significant.

Now that you have received the presentation and report, what will UIC and your board do with this information?
During our strategic meeting today we will sit down and use the information to analyse how we are presently working, what we can be doing better and what changes we should be making. So the information we got today is greatly beneficial for the strategic work going forward. It is a platform that allows UIC to see where we currently stand worldwide; allowing us to grade ourselves. It is another great tool with which to make strategic plans.

How do you use the ranking?
The ranking is used in our marketing and in situations where we present UIC and our business. We are really proud of the ranking we got this year and we are pleased that we have made the city of Uppsala proud too. We have noticed that the ranking have gained us a lot of attention internationally. We had a lot of international visitors prior to taking part in the ranking however the number of international visitors we receive has increased along with international interest in UIC. With this in mind the ranking has enhanced credibility to our work.

Uppsala Innovation Centre

Global Benchmark 2015

Global Rank


Regional Rank



UIC’s Projects Director, Per Bengtsson, accepting UIC’s 5th place award in the category of Top University Business Incubator, at the European leg of the UBI Awards in Turin, Italy.

Venture fund and startup accelerator iDealMachine, which works on the basis of ITMO University, ranked fifth in the world’s top accelerator cooperating with universities, according to the company UBI Global. Ranking leader in performance analysis of business incubators and startup accelerator based on monitoring innovation organizations in 1300 to 90 countries in six major regions of the world..//..