Chao-tung Wen

By Tim Rogers,2014-07-09 10:06
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Chao-tung Wen ...

    Improving the Services of Academic Incubators

    7/31 10:50~12:20 Room 110


    Chao-tung Wen

    Professor, Graduate Institute of Technology and Innovation Management,

     National Chengchi University

First I will talk about the trend of academic incubator, then will compare academic

    incubators with others, then I‘ll propose on how to improve incubators services

    within universitys context. Though I teach at university, I have to say universities are usually reluctant to change. The second point is university-based support for

    incubation and technology development is relatively new phenomenon. Universities

    are supposed to be knowledge creators, so many ideas in business are coming from

    universities. Thats why university incubators are so prominent these years. In Taiwan, the legal and legislative frameworks do not fully support academic incubators.

For academic incubators, the objectives are of course commercializing the

    technologies, developing entrepreneurial spirits, and looking for new sources of

    finance. The targets are trying to commercialize projects, which eventually become a

    business, within universities. For offerings, we‘ve talked a lot these in the past two

    days. Academic incubators could offer financial resources, prototype and market

    testing, and access to commercial markets. Eventually they could offer long-term

    strategic partnership, and access to multiple competencies. The key problems

    academic incubators face is the legitimacy inside the institution. I think the legal

    status and independence are still ambiguous in universities. At the early stage, many

    incubators rely on government subsidies, which may not be sufficient to hire qualified

    candidates to manage the operations within the company. But I think the

    knowledge-based incubation is a trend. More and more people aware the operation of

    university incubators might strategically related to the development of universities.

     Universities can do lots of things to strengthen the activities of incubations. I

    called the process of pre-incubation. Teaching and research are the main focus of

    university staff. If we could influence university faculty to be more entrepreneurial, I

    think it will bring further impact to the incubator operations hereafter. For

    pre-incubators, I mean to create an atmosphere to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirits

    and innovative ideas. In the last two days, we talked about incubators are like catching

an eggs; pre-incubators are like producing more eggs before they are caught. Heres

    an example of USCs incubator program.

     The process is as followed: first, they form an incubator advisory committee,

    then send finalists to incubator. And incubator director and management professor

    teach some how-to to the students. Finalists submit business plan to incubator. And incubator director sends business plan to the committee. Finally the committee selects

    good companies which can enter the incubator. The student company will have a free

    office space for 2 years, and have $1,000 start-up capitals, not much, but for students,

    that‘s some money. And theyll have assistance with incorporation process, free telephone and internet connection. Theyll connect them to other research foundations

    to get some financial support. And theyll also have access to a service provider


The aims of pre-incubator is to encourage interest and participation in new venture

    creation amongst existing and former students through a range of initiatives which are

    complimentary and mutually beneficial to incubators, schools and students.

Secondly, I will mention a case called ICE in England. ICE means innovation,

    creativity and enterprise. Its a range of training and development programs in new venture creation. Hatchery is a space for students to test out their ideas for a new

    venture. They also have a website. ICE is a range of training programs have been

    developed to provide comprehensive access to suitable courses of study to interest

    individuals or groups both inside and outside the university. The Hatchery will

    provides facilities & support to enable students to develop an idea for a new venture

    into a viable business proposition, that is to seek to develop creativity and innovation

    among students and enable students to have confidence to take an idea

    forwardeither later one to start a company or become a person with entrepreneur

    spirits. The results up to March 2003 are that the Hatchery has 40 members, has

    started 27 business ideas. And 12 of them directly went into market.

    Next Ill like to talk about this Japanese term: University Venture Business.

    Ill like to show you the statistics of technology transfer and the company

    start-ups in the top ten U.S. universities. As you can see, UC system has 26

    start-up companies, which is a lot more than most schools. Japans economy

    grows rapidly in the 90. After 1996, the venture business is phenomenal in


     MIT has a entrepreneurship lab, e-lab, which invites students with all

    disciplines to gets hands on experiences to start and run new ventures. Student projects focus on one urgent aspect of the start-up such as marketing plans, competitor analysis, financing, business plan writing, etc. Objective of the internships is to provide students with a valuable and significant experience and introduce students to needs of the CEO and officers of a high-tech start-up firms, and finally to perform useful work and deliver to the host companies in return. Students include MIT Sloan students, MIT graduate students in Science and Engineering, and even a few Harvard MBAs. Its a joint program.

     What kind of companies will have motifs? Companies typically are

    venture-backed, with fewer than 35 employees. They are in the business of computer software, hardware, and networking. Most companies are in the near areas, but some of them are from silicon valleys or foreign countries. Its a great

    global environment for companies to start up. For a start-up company, there are a few key questions to answer. First is: what is the product or service you are selling? What is the problem that the product or service solves? Students join the program could learn first hand experience on how to solve these problems. Students can define and develop the sales process and sales mode or perform a market or competitive analysis so on and so forth.

    Over the course of a semester, teams answer the following questions: who will buy the product? What is the problem? How is that economics benefit measured?

    Incubation has different stages in different countries. Since they are at different phase, they have different aspects to concern. This is the diagram I borrowed from UKBI last month. There are nearly 200 incubators in UK. They try to benchmark each one of them. At foundation phase, they all have some critical and core principles. At development phase, we need core elements, processes, people and infrastructure. The outside ring is optional element.

    In the conclusion, I think university can do a lot for pre-incubators. The other thing is

    to benchmark. Without this benchmark, we won‘t see how we evolve and be


    Summary of The University Virtual Incubator

    Mr. Andrew Beveridge

    Project manager, Office of Industry and Innovation University of Western Australia

    •virtual incubator at the University of Western Australia.•Services provided

    •Technology assessment

    •Inventor mentoring

    •Market scoping

    •Business planning

    •Legal Advice

    •IP Management

    •Commercialisation strategy

    •Investor sourcing

    •Deal negotiation

    2. Comparison between Virtual and Physical Incubators

    Critical Success Factors Physical’ Incubator

    Virtual Incubator

    Low High Capital Cost

    Start-up costs

    Low Moderate. Running costs

    Excellent Availability of Support

    Moderate Services

    Ideal Ideal Location

    Poor Ideal Disruption to the key


    Good Good Access to support


    Poor Excellent. Investor perception

    Poor Excellent. Community perception

    ? •Survey what is happening in a region similar to your own.

    ? •Use ‗best practice‘ approaches where possible. ? •Ensure that you appoint people with the right mix of skills. ? •Use existing resources, fill in gaps by engaging with third parties. ? •Don‘t wait until everything is perfect before launching.

    ? •Networks are vital to the success of a virtual incubator – cultivate


    ? •Use creative approaches in problem solving.

    ? •Have fun!5.ConclsuionBoth ‗Physical‘ and ‗Virtual‘ incubators have

    huge benefits.

Virtual incubators are a great way to start.

A physical incubator located on campus would be the ideal follow-on from

a virtual incubator.

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