Sustainable Development Important for European Business Incubators

February 8, 2021

Sustainable development is an important phenomenon nowadays: see the current importance of, for example, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the climate discussion, and the Circular Economy.

Also the important role of business incubators for fostering entrepreneurs who wish to start up and develop their businesses is clearly acknowledged nowadays. Despite the acknowledged importance of business incubators and sustainable development separately, there is hardly any attention for the engagement of business incubators in sustainable development activities.

Tom Ballering and Enno Masurel contributed to filling this research gap by investigating the engagement of business incubators in activities aimed at sustainable development. 59 European business incubators participated in their research. They found that a significant proportion of business incubators in Europe clearly engage in activities aimed at sustainable development, with their own activities (e.g., 80% of the business incubators sponsored social activities and 68% pay attention to their own recycling) and with their programs (e.g., 25% offers programs to create positive environmental impact and 31% offers programs to create positive social impact). Also for the selection of mentors and incubatees, environmental and social issues are important. The empirical analysis also suggests the existence of a separate subgroup of sustainable business incubators (15% of the whole research group), that differ significantly from other business incubators on a range of environmental and social aspects.

According to the authors, their paper may serve as a blue print to develop sustainable business incubators, that meet the criteria of these times and the ambition of many startups.

Read the paper here.

Ballering, T., & Masurel, E. (2020). Business Incubators and their Engagement in Sustainable Development Activities: Empirical Evidence from Europe. International Review of Entrepreneurship, 18(2), 203-220.