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An organization designed to help new startups succeed by providing services like management training or office space.

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A business incubator is a company that helps new and startup companies to develop by providing services such as management training, office space, capital, mentoring, and networking connections. Incubators differ from accelerators in that they often focus on early-stage startups, offering a collaborative program to help the business get established.

Context of Use:

The term "incubator" is commonly used in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, particularly in relation to startups and technology companies. It applies to programs designed to promote rapid growth by addressing early-stage companies' common challenges.


The purpose of an incubator is to help new businesses survive and grow during the startup phase when they are most vulnerable. Incubators provide startups with the necessary tools and support to scale their businesses effectively and sustainably.


  1. Y Combinator (YC) - Based in Silicon Valley, Y Combinator is one of the most highly regarded incubators globally, known for its rigorous selection process and the success of its graduates, like Airbnb and Dropbox. Visit Y Combinator

  2. Techstars - With locations worldwide, Techstars offers a mentorship-driven accelerator program that supports startups with funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Explore Techstars

  3. 500 Startups - An early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator, 500 Startups has supported a wide range of startups globally and is noted for its diverse and wide-reaching entrepreneurial network. Learn about 500 Startups

  4. Seedcamp - Based in London, Seedcamp is a European incubator that offers seed funding and operational support to technology companies across Europe, helping them scale effectively and secure subsequent funding rounds. Discover Seedcamp

  5. The Hatchery - A New York-based incubator, The Hatchery provides a supportive environment for digital startups, facilitating introductions to investors, providing access to mentors, and hosting networking events. Check out The Hatchery

Related Terms:

  • Accelerator: Similar to an incubator, an accelerator is a program that supports early-stage, growth-driven companies through education, mentorship, and financing, usually in a cohort-based setting and for a limited time period.

  • Venture Capital: Financing that investors provide to startups and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential.

  • Seed Funding: The initial capital used to start a business. Seed funding helps a company to finance its first steps, including market research and product development.

  • Startup Ecosystem: The community of entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, and various other business and technical service actors that contribute to the growth and support of newly founded businesses.


  1. What is the difference between an incubator and an accelerator?

    Incubators generally focus on nurturing the business, providing a flexible timeframe to develop, whereas accelerators are more structured, offering specific programs that include set milestones and typically culminate in a public pitch event or demo day.

  2. How do companies benefit from joining an incubator?

    Companies in incubators benefit from a wealth of resources and expert guidance that can help them refine their business models, accelerate their development, and increase their chances of attracting further investment.

  3. What types of services do incubators provide?

    Incubators provide various services, including office space, business training, access to capital, networking opportunities, and mentorship.

  4. Who can join an incubator?

    Startups and new ventures seeking to stabilize and grow their business can apply to join incubators. Criteria for acceptance vary by program, often focusing on the startup's potential and strategic alignment with the incubator’s goals.

  5. Are there specific incubators for different types of businesses?

    Yes, there are industry-specific incubators that focus on sectors such as technology, biotech, healthcare, and social entrepreneurship, among others. These incubators offer tailored support and resources that are particularly valuable in their respective fields.

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