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2019: An Innovative Year in Review

Journey through the 2019 global innovation community activities with UBI Global

Join us as we present the 2019 year in review and examine the impactful collaborations that took place through business incubator and accelerator programs and their startup clients. This article covers the biggest disruptions in the global 

Navigate the Worldwide Innovation Ecosystem with UBI Global

innovation landscape, the UBI Global member programs and startups in the spotlight, and the exciting activities that took place in our wonderful innovation community.

This year had an abundance of disruption – in politics, social climate, sport, science, and more. Business incubators and accelerators have witnessed this change at a grass-roots level, watching community/startup relationships transform into born-global entities. Along for the earth-shaking ride are public decision-makers, universities, governments, corporations, and investors, and all of us on the UBI Global team. 


Tech Trends in 2019

January arrived and so did our motto for the year, “Activate Your Innovation,” which served as the touchstone for the community as well as a driving force within the UBI Global team. Our first article of the year explored the five technology trends that would shape the focus of the coming twelve months, namely:

  • – IoT
  • – Big Data
  • – AI
  • – Digital Health
  • – Gamification

These five trends have indeed been the most explosive disruptors on the scene over the past year, with an increase in large corporate investment to meet the seven basic areas driving innovation during the coming twelve months. Revisiting the trend predictions for a year in review, we believe that these technologies and sectors are just beginning to see the full disruptive results. Detailed in the whitepaper we published soon after this article, these drivers have led to disruptive startup activity in delivery and shipping, vehicles and transportation, food production and preservation, online shopping, and more:

  • – Politics
  • – Environment
  • – Immigration and Border Security
  • – Socioeconomics and Urban Development
  • – Health
  • – Security
  • – Home/Food/Entertainment


January’s member spotlight was on LaunchLab (Africa) and its startup clients PICSA (FinTech) and CUSTOS (Communications & Transportation). This was also the month we introduced our partner Hubspot’s special offer for startups in the community. WIIN (China) was announced as a new partner, and Shahida Saleem of Impact Network and PEP Foundation, Pakistan, was welcomed on board as an Innovation Ambassador. Further reading for January was the publication, Startup Success Stories Volume 02.


All About the Research


The UBI Global innovation community began to grow, and with good reason – though February is the shortest month, in 2019 it was also a precursor for the World Benchmark Study 2019 – 2020. To prepare the business incubators and accelerators eager to measure their performance, we published the Top 10 Reasons to Benchmark as encouragement.

New Innovation Ambassadors from Italy, Giovanni Perrone (PNI Cube) and from Taiwan, Jane Liu (CBIA) joined the community as Strategic Partners PNICube, CBIA, and Impact Network from Pakistan. In the spotlight was Clarence Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (the UK) and their client startups Digital Detox (Creative & Cultural) and Learning Ladders (EdTech). 



The Study is Open

To celebrate the opening for data submission by member programs for the World Benchmark Study 2019-2020, UBI Global published our best-read free publication, “15 Best Practices for Business Incubators and Accelerators,” which continues to provide inspiration and food for thought to the entire community and beyond. We also published numerous articles on the WBS 19/20 and how this gold standard study impacts the innovation landscape.

The superstar stand-out program for the month was MIDI Technológico (Brazil) and startups Pixeon (Health & Fitness) and Resultados Digitais (AdTech). The community was excited to hear about new Strategic Partners DIA (Dutch Incubation Association) and EIT Health (European Union), and welcome Innovation Ambassadors Pim de Bokx (DIA) and Dr. Kurt Höller (EIT Health). 

Membership Year in Review: This quarter, our community grew by almost 75 members – and we were just getting started!

Big Brands and CSR 

Having entered the mainstream media in 2018, brands began to take action on plastic pollution in 2019. Retailers and manufacturers evolved their packaging and processes to become more accountable for plastic waste in their product stream, focusing on sustainability and accountability. From grocery chains offering “fill your own” container services to manufacturers featuring refillable versions of their flagship products, educating the market on recycling has led to an abundance of CSR campaigns around the world.


Announcing the WIS’19

Corporate Case Studies to Activate your Innovation

The decision was made to extend the World Benchmark Study deadline to accommodate all the new members joining the community who were eager to participate in the WBS19/20 study and forge new connections with other programs around the world. It was the perfect time to announce the most impactful networking event in the global innovation community – the World Incubation Summit 2019.


The month also ushered in another great read in the form of a whitepaper, “The Innovation Landscape from A to Z,” which was based on the UBI Global foundation of research, terms, and definitions that we have gathered and perfected over time. This month, we welcomed new Strategic Partner LIAA (Latvia) and Innovation Ambassador Laura Očagova. In the spotlight, the Melbourne Accelerator Program (Australia) and startups Nura (MusicTech) and Brosa (B2C). The community was also invited to submit startups for the China Start program, a one-week immersion program for global startups looking to start their roots in China.


UBI Global member programs that participate in the World Benchmark Study have demonstrated a very important trait; their startups are more successful. With a 5-year average survival rate of 59 percent, UBI Global member programs outperform non-incubated startups by 15 percentage points. The programs in the study supported ventures with over $3.2 billion in sales over the past five years.



The Summer of Corporate Innovation

In part, the summer of corporate innovation was inspired by the corporate innovation programs participating for the first time in the World Benchmark Study 2019 – 2020. Telling seven inspiring stories of innovation, it was the perfect opportunity to publish, “Lessons in Corporate Innovation – 7 Case Studies with UBI Global,” an enthralling whitepaper that was divided into chapters, the first being, “How Modern Companies Get Smart: Activate Startup Trendspotting.”

This month, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and its startups FreeWire Technologies (CleanTech) and Repurpose (CleanTech) were in the spotlight along with new member Russol, a digital classroom for entrepreneurs and startups in Russia and Ukraine. Our Strategic Partner, Global Corporate Venturing, gave the community a heads-up on their Symposium event in London, which we eagerly attended and wrote about on our blog.


Why do Corporations Seek Startups?

Continuing the corporate innovation theme, two more case study chapters were published, “New Ways to Leverage Innovation: Activate Corporate Social Responsibility Strategies,” and “Uncover the Innovation Community: Activate Ecosystem Growth”. After attending the GCV Symposium, we wanted to share, “6 Innovation Secrets We Learned in London,” which made us look forward to the WIS’19 event.

Venture Villa (Germany) was the member spotlight of the month along with its startups verlingo (HR tech) and Dresslife (B2C). UBI Global member INiTS provided details on Health Hub Vienna, an amazing event they conduct to connect healthcare-focused startups with mentors and industry experts (see the new call for entries in this month’s UBI Engage). This was also the month that UBI Global relocated to Urban Escape (a WeWork facility) while opening nominations for speakers during the WIS’19.

Membership Year in Review: At the end of this quarter, we were thrilled that almost 250 new members had joined the UBI Global innovation community!


Corporate Innovation Gains Steam

Three more chapters from the corporate case studies arrived on our blog this month including, “Revive Your Corporation’s Persona: Activate Brand Awareness,” “Smart Way to Source Innovation: Activate Product Development,” and “Easy Way to Gain New Audiences: Activate Customer Reach”. 

A warm welcome was extended to Kenya Climate Innovation Center and its startup Hydroponics Kenya (AgriTech), along with new Strategic Partners LUANAR (Malawi) and NIYA (Durban) and Innovation Ambassadors Sera Gondwe (LUANAR) and Thandeka Zulu (NIYA). The WIS’19 team was also able to offer a first glimpse of the agenda for the summit.


So Long to Summer!

The WBS 19/20 First Look Infographic was a great way to cap off the summer of corporate innovation, as was the last of the seven case study chapters, “Boost Your Corporate Innovation: Activate Business Intelligence.” Looking ahead to an autumn season focused on networking and information sharing, publishing the FAQ page for the World Incubation Summit 2019 was a perfect way to segue into the new season.

This month, the community learned about the imec.istart program, which welcomed tech startups from anywhere in the world to submit themselves to participate in this great program. Another impactful program, the 7th China Start event, conducted by CKGSB, was also announced to the community this month as the spotlight was on Chinaccelerator and its startups BitMEX (FinTech) and UShopal (Fashion Tech).


Scorecard Delivery

An exciting way to kick off education and networking activities, participating member programs received their World Benchmark Study 2019 – 2020 scorecard this month. The scorecards are an easy-to-read performance outline in preparation for the full study, which will be published soon after the new year. This month was also a busy time for the team, as registrations were flooding in for the World Incubation Summit 2019. 

September was a great time to publish, “Top Listed and Number One – preparing to name the World’s #1 and Top Lists at WIS19,” which was of interest to the WIS’19 attendees eagerly anticipating the gala event during the WIS’19. The spotlight was on Chrysalis Incubadora PUCV (Chile) with its startups Rocketpin (HR Tech) and Let’s Talk (Social Media). Harvard University also addressed the UBI Global community with information on the 10th Annual Igniting Innovation Summit on Social Entrepreneurship event. 

The community welcomed strategic partner Youth Business Cameroon (YBC), the leading organization in the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), and announced the African Agribusiness Incubation Conference & Expo (AAICE) taking place March 20-27. 

Membership Year in Review: Over this quarter, membership was still vibrantly active with over fifth new members welcomed on board! 

Meatless Meat 

A growing interest in meat-free food products that mimic the taste, texture, and look of meat while being cruelty-free, are designed to appeal to carnivore consumers rather than vegans or vegetarians. The market share of these meatless products is predicted to be ten percent of the global meat market within the next decade, and it all started this year.


All About the WIS’19

WIS19 Activate Your InnovationThe event of the year was just around the corner, so the UBI Global team decided to draw from the program agenda on partnerships and publish, “The Question is… What is the Question? What methods do corporations use to seek startup partners?” After a summer focused on corporate innovation and freshly analyzed data about corporate-led business incubators and accelerators, it was a theme that deserved more attention.


As we made the final call for delegates to join us in Qatar, we spotlighted one of the stops on the ecosystem tour, Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC) and their startups ibTECHar (EdTech) and EButler (B2C). We also gave the community an in-depth look at Innoplore, an innovation platform and community for entrepreneurs and published information about AcceleratorApp and how the platform organizes and automates operational data for business incubators and accelerators.


November – World’s #1 and Top Listed Business Incubators and Accelerators Announced during the WIS’19

What an exciting, enriching event it was – the World Incubation Summit 2019 was full of networking, collaboration, and fulfilled the theme to Activate Your Innovation! For an in-depth recap of the WIS’19 activities, events, top tweets, and pictures, see the full recap of the event here.

Our spotlight was on South IT Park Accelerator (Russia) and startups Smart Trainer Studio (HealthTech) and Examis (EdTech), as we published the all-new World Rankings 19/20 Report that formally announced to the world which programs achieved World #1 status and those that were Top Listed.

Innovation – Quantum Style

 A trend that began in the latter half of this year and will gain momentum in 2020 is quantum-style innovation. Large enterprises have made ‘quantum leaps’ to anticipate market demand, and have found that working with startups increases their chances of success. Why? Startups are, by nature, predictive thinkers and anticipators of trends, needs, and demands.

In 2019, our community has grown to include more than 1,200 business incubators and accelerators, located in over 90 countries and representing a growing, vibrant group of 35,000+ startups! We joined together to celebrate the most successful World Incubation Summit to date, welcoming over 500 delegates for exploration of the exciting innovation ecosystem of Doha, Qatar – many traveling to the country for the first time – giving new meaning to the theme of Activate Your Innovation.


Stay with us in 2020 for even more exciting activities, in-depth best practice information, incubation and acceleration education, knowledge, startup scouting, and much more! It’s not too late to take an active role to Activate Your Innovation – if you know of new programs or innovation leaders that need the support of a global community, the UBI Global team is ready to welcome them on board as we roll into roaring 2020!

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