Research on incubators show that size is important in achieving efficiency and networking benefits for clients. However, little research has focused on what factors influence incubator size. We theorize and show partial support for size benefits to incubator specialization. Analyses of the relationship between size and four distinct specialization strategies in a sample of 96 European incubators show that incubator size is positively related to a strategic focus on universities and research institutes as recruitment channels and to a focus on sustainability, but unrelated to industry focus. Incubator size was found to be negatively related to a regional focus. While sustainability focused incubators tended to not find recruitment challenging, paradoxically, among those who did, the most frequently reported challenges were related to finding tenants that focus on sustainability. Post-hoc analyses revealed that tenants with a focus other than sustainability often dominate sustainability-oriented incubators, suggesting that sustainability may be more of a legitimating strategy than an explicit selection criterion.
Klofsten, M., Lundmark, E., Wennberg, K. & Banks, N. (2020). Incubator specialisation and size: divergent paths towards operational scale. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 151. DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2019.119821