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Top Listed and Number One

Recognizing the Top Business Incubators and Accelerators from the World Benchmark Study 2019-2020

In 2012, a Swedish student wondered, “What are the traits of the most successful top-performing university incubators worldwide?” The answer at the time was unavailable; the landscape was unmapped, unexplored, and unranked. So began UBI Global, with a mission to identify, benchmark, and recognize university-linked incubator and accelerator programs. 

Today, UBI Global is an intelligence company working with a community of more than 800 member programs located in over 90 countries reaching beyond the university world. Thanks to our active membership that eagerly shares data and knowledge, we are able to publish the World Benchmark Study, the gold standard report that benchmarks – and ranks – the global innovation community. This adds further excitement to the World Incubation Summit when the top lists of programs are announced at a fabulous gala award night. 



How do we determine the top lists and what are the categories? You are about to find out.

World Benchmark Study Evolution

Over the years, the World Benchmark Study has evolved to include many new benchmark categories that reflect the evolution of the global innovation community. What began as a fact-finding mission has grown to become the gold-standard study of business incubation and acceleration on a global scale. Consistently updated to reflect the latest research in the field, at its core, the underlying research framework has remained unchanged – the absolute impact and relative performance of a program are the two determining factors of success. 

Benchmark Categories vs. Ranking Categories

When it comes to benchmark categories vs. ranking categories the determining factor is the level of focus. While the benchmark categories offer a granular view of the programs, ranking categories are a top-level view. We provide all participating programs with a scorecard infographic that offers an overview of their overall impact and performance relative to their peers.

Ranking categories and the respective top lists reflect differences in setup, funding, and focus between different groups of incubators and accelerators. Benchmark categories and ranking categories are two related outputs of the same data, with benchmark categories finely tuned according to the program’s self-definition. 


From Rankings To Top Lists

Speaking of finely tuned, as the benchmark has grown and expanded, it became clear that there was a need to compare like-for-like programs. The ranking system has evolved, moving from a focus on individual program performance to a top list system that spotlights high-achievers. This categorization sets the bar for the rest of the global innovation ecosystem in a fair and concise way. 

Presenting this Year’s Top Performers 

For this fifth edition of the World Benchmark Study 2019-2020, the 364 programs that have officially submitted their data have been top listed among six categories based on the sample size. Each ranking category has a Top List according to the size of the category:



Ranking Category and Top List

  • Top University Business Incubator – Top 20
  • Top University Business Accelerator – Top 5
  • Top Public Business Incubator – Top 10
  • Top Public Business Accelerator – Top 5
  • Top Private Business Incubator – Top 5
  • Top Private Business Accelerator – Top 5


This reflects an evolution from numerical ranking to a highlight of the groups of high-achieving programs, providing recognition to the group as a whole. Among global peers, these programs are all top performers!

Is There a Number One?

The short answer is… Yes!

Each top list has one program in its group that has achieved number-one status as the result of extraordinary impact and performance among top peers. We want to provide the industry with the opportunity to celebrate innovation excellence and highlight a bright focal point to which other programs can aspire.

The number one program for each top list will be announced at the World Incubation Summit 2019 this November 4-7 in Doha, Qatar.


Previous Rankings

Developed as a result of the World Benchmark Study, UBI Global offers definitive program rankings from 2013 onwards. These editions of the rankings are still relevant today as they show the evolution of the innovation community around the world. To unlock the previous rankings resulting from the World Benchmark Study from 2013 to 2018, please see our website here.

The Word is Out

If your program gets “the call” that signifies achieving Top List status, we congratulate you and look forward to seeing you in Doha! Even if you don’t hear from us about your ranking, it is a great opportunity to learn and grow – through benchmarking, through events such as the World Incubation Summit, and through our community by participating in Engage, the Member Magazine and contributing on UBI Connect.

Release of the Rankings

Make sure you are there to witness this exciting event by contacting us on [email protected] to express your interest in attending. To receive information on the top lists, the number one ranked programs, and news on the World Benchmark Study 2019 – 2020 as well as the World Incubation Summit, sign up to receive our newsletter here:

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