The World Benchmark Study of Business Incubators & Accelerators 2019 - 2020
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Social responsibility and startups; how ethical risk taking can be successful


When technology meets society, anything can happen. Do you think Mark Zuckerberg expected Facebook to become home to algorithmic propaganda? How about Twitter and the state-sponsored trolling and hate speech it is most often associated with, was that expected? Most likely the answer is no, but maybe they should have anticipated it. This article explores the ethics involved in the startup world and explores the risks worth taking.


The programs we work with at UBI Global expect all their startups, including those in competitive sectors, to tell the truth, period. Great companies like Google do not need to overstate their potential or lie about themselves to succeed. They let their performance do the talking, which is known as transparency, and it is one of the first business pillars of success that our members follow without fail.


Startups pursuing rapid growth have a moral obligation to do so responsibly, which involves being able to consider the risks to potential customers and the broader ecosystem. The Medtech sector is a perfect example, in that it has a serious mission to protect patients from risk or prove how the new product or service improves overall patient outcomes. If a product or service failure could cause mortal risk, the biggest risk of all, the standards become much more stringent. The wider the scope of the risk, the more amplified the responsibility and code of ethics.


In highly competitive market sectors, the speed at which a product is launched can mean the difference between winner-take-all and winner-take-some. While most entrepreneurs are encouraged to launch beta or early, unpolished versions of their product or service to glean valuable feedback from the market, being truthful about the fledgling technology is crucial. University programs teach entrepreneurs not to sacrifice integrity for speed. Instead, transparency and ethics win the day, with a clear focus on exactly where the product is, where it needs to be, what the risks are and how to overcome them.

Eight reasons for social responsibility

Market benchmarks, financial modeling and founder profiles aside, looking at the social impact of a startup is part of thoroughly vetting its promise in the market. The following are eight important reasons why corporate social responsibility is taken seriously in the university-linked incubation ecosystem.

  1. Risk reduction – eliminate anything that can affect the total valuation of the company in the future
  2. More profit – clear statistics show that socially responsible companies are more lucrative
  3. Potential for growth – conscious consumption increases a company’s sales
  4. Employee recruitment and retention – more attractive to work for an ethical company
  5. Innovation – corporate responsibility necessitates innovation, drives competitiveness
  6. Lower costs – cutting waste and offering re-use incentives lower production costs
  7. Responsible investing – socially responsible assets perform better and are more attractive
  8. It matters – corporate giants demand responsible suppliers who comply with their standards

The university-linked incubation community is not perfect, but our members are happy to disclose their methods in order to participate in UBI Global’s Success Stories Volume 2 of which is to be released in December 2019. The Volume 1 of this publication is free to download here. Social responsibility is taken seriously by UBI Global and our members, who are benchmarked on this and other factors thanks to our World Benchmark Study. If you are a socially responsible corporation looking for an ethical startup, look no further. UBI Global is the world leader in matchmaking, benchmarking and researching the global  innovation ecosystem.


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