Chapter 11: Performance measurement in business incubators: empirical evidence from Europe
The importance of small firms to economic growth, innovation and diversity is widely acknowledged. These topics are at the very centre of the policy of the European Union (EU), concentrated in the ‘Innovation Union’, one of the seven flagships of the EU’s 2020 Strategy (European Commission, 2010). Facilitating and supporting activities in this context are seen as critical for achieving success. Because of the acclaimed success of Business Incubators (BIs), policymakers see them as a potential instrument for achieving the innovation goals (Hannon and Chaplin, 2003). Unfortunately, actual and accurate figures in this context are still lacking. BIs are one type of vehicles that facilitate small enterprises in their growth. BIs are powerful tools set up by public, private or joint initiatives, for small enterprises to overcome the pitfalls of starting up and growing their business, both in the case of high-tech businesses and in other sectors (Voisey et al., 2006). According to benchmark research commissioned by the European Commission (CSES, 2002), BIs obtain remarkable successes in Europe. BIs come in different shapes and sizes but their common goal is to help provide their clients – or the inhabitants of the BI, best called ‘incubatees’– with a strategic, value-adding intervention system of monitoring and business assistance (Hackett and Dilts, 2004).
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