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India’s First ever White paper on Incubators

National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) releases India’s first- ever white paper on ‘Guidelines for Metrics and Milestones for Successful Incubator Development’

• White paper aims at building the much needed nationally accepted set of metrics and milestones for incubators and incorporates the thinking of some of the most seasoned and experienced managers from the academic and private sector incubators.

• The White paper assumes significance in light of the proposed nationwide “District Level Incubation and Accelerator Programme” to be taken up for incubation of new ideas and necessary support for accelerating entrepreneurship, in Union Budget 2014.

• The white paper has been submitted to Department of Science & Technology (DST) to institute standards for the establishment and working of incubators in India.

• Recommendations to set the motions for analysis, discussion & debate for policy review and modifications, for the benefit of both funding and host organizations that set up incubators.

• Elaborate researched content demonstrates NEN’s thought leadership in the larger entrepreneurial eco- system and its intent to help incubators reach full potential as ‘engines of economic growth’ in the country and showcase models of incubator-corporate relationships.

• While National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) focuses on enhancing the nature and quality of student start-ups and continues to build an eco-system that will help them grow, it also engages in entrepreneur support through mentoring, knowledge & skills building, and networking.

Bangalore, August 27: Wadhwani Foundation’s flagship initiative, National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN), has released a white paper for the Department of Science & Technology (DST) to institute standards for the establishment and working of incubators in India. Titled “Guidelines – Metrics & Milestones for Successful Incubator Development”, the white paper has drawn heavily from NEN’s decade long experience in the Indian Start-up Eco-system wherein it has played a key guiding role in several start-ups turning profitable. NEN believes that incubators can be a great asset for India provided we establish mechanisms to enable higher success for them – policies that will govern the right selection criteria for who should be funded; practical and required guidelines on developmental milestones for building them up as organizations; right metrics to both measure and award success; knowledge, skills and best practices to enable teams to successful initiate and manage incubators; realistic understanding and expectations on sustainability.

An extensively researched product, the white paper draws from multiple sources of information that include interviews with incubator managers in India & other parts of the world; conversations with incubated entrepreneurs, both graduated and current ones from different incubators. Additionally, a lot of secondary research has informed this document including literature review and survey findings of the different types of incubators around the world, their support services and metrics.

NEN’s Co-Founder & Senior Director, also the lead author of the white paper, Sunita Singh says, “It is critical to arrive at a nationally accepted set of incubator metrics for India to be a key player globally in the space of incubation. Business incubators have the potential to bring about economic development in any geography. An incubator should be able to create sustainable and strong entrepreneur support infrastructure as an enabler to technology inventors and entrepreneurs for building successful start-ups. Progression of business incubators can be structured using milestone- driven progress indicators. We aim at creating a strong and efficient starting point, from where a common set of benchmarks, milestones & metrics can help incubators and their stakeholders achieve their goals.”

On the basis of this white paper, the two key pointers that will help setting up national guidelines, metrics and milestones for incubators in India, are:

1. Categorization of incubators: identifying unique characteristics and success factors for each incubator model thereby enabling replication of successful models, appropriate under different conditions. This classification is key to differentiate between the nature of the clients that the incubators deal with and the related business models.

2. Critical indicators of success: for companies that the different categories of incubators support. While economic and social impact of an incubator is long term, outcomes that are immediately measurable are critical to understand, especially if the incubator is making progress. The solutions & recommendations in the white paper are based on a detailed understanding of key factors that govern incubator categorization like motive, size of opportunity, location, in-house expertise and sphere of influence.

Noted advisor-mentor, investor and a passionate advocate of entrepreneurship, Sanjay Anandaram who also advised NEN on developing incubators, says, “The white paper brought out by NEN is an important step in the creation of a vibrant incubator network in India. It will help categorize, measure, lay guidelines & best practices, and ensure that incubators play their rightful role in nurturing and growing entrepreneurship in India. The report should be widely disseminated, discussed and acted upon.”

The white paper’s recommendations on metrics and milestones are based on the sequential logic that incubators create entrepreneurs who in turn create impact in the form of revenue, shareholder returns, new jobs and societal impact. Hence, measurement metrics need to be focused on long term impact, immediate outcomes and organizational development milestones.

The White paper also provides a useful insight into:

• Key challenges that incubators face in terms of the right amount of funding required and financial sustainability
• Training and mentoring services for community entrepreneurs at the incubator & returnable seed money to incubated companies

Going forward, NEN will focus on leveraging its expertise to help the incubator industry in India and other emerging economies to mature, by providing the following support services:

• Internal capacity-building of incubators : training, webinars and best practices’ sharing forum for incubator managers, and other personnel
• External support for incubators: develop models and methodologies to engage corporate sector in the incubator industry to enable stronger professionalism, additional money flow into incubators, non-financial resources for the incubator and its start-ups
• Create tools in the form of ‘How to guides’ and videos for incubator personnel to use
• Evolve consultancy support for new and upcoming incubators to help them develop more systematically

About the Lead Author:

Sunita Singh drives the Wadhwani Foundation’s global expansion, including setting strategy, building teams, fund raising, and forging high-potential partnerships. Over the past few years, Sunita has led NEN’s unique capacity- development initiative, where she pioneered the development of India’s entrepreneurship educational capacity and network across 500 academic institutions, creating first-time access to knowledge and skills for aspiring and new entrepreneurs. She also contributes to NEN’s thought leadership by driving research, collaboration and representation at strategic forums in India and abroad. She is on the advisory and steering committees of several non-profit and government organizations, including AANDE India, SIDBI Innovation and Incubation Center at IIT Kanpur.

About The National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN):

The National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) is Wadhwani Foundation’s flagship initiative in India. It was established in 2003 with a mission to inspire, educate and support high potential entrepreneurs to create millions of high-value jobs. NEN does this by building institutional capacity for entrepreneur support and a robust entrepreneurial eco-system. It was co-founded with IIT Bombay, IIM Ahmedabad, BITS Pilani, SP Jain Institute of Management and Research and the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology. NEN represents Asia’s largest and most dynamic community of young and future entrepreneurs and aims to create impact at scale in a sustainable manner. Its model for advancing entrepreneurship rests primarily on a partnership approach, through which it builds institutional capacity for creating entrepreneurs; developing and inspiring a pool of aspiring entrepreneurs at more than 500 academic institutes; enabling access to leadership and skills-building programs, and providing access to expert, mentor and capital networks. NEN also strengthens the entrepreneurial eco-system to support existing start-ups through high quality programs and infrastructure delivered by knowledgeable & experienced faculty along with seasoned entrepreneurs.

About Wadhwani Foundation:

Founded in 2003 by Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, the Foundation’s primary mission is economic acceleration of emerging economies. The Foundation embarked upon its mission in India first, and subsequently, the Foundation has expanded into the U.S and other countries. In India, with an expected growth of 250-300 million people joining the workforce by 2022, large scale job creation became the primary imperative for the country. Also, as India’s population grows young, most advanced nations of the world are growing old, offering India an opportunity to become the global talent supplier. Catalyzing job creation and skill development became the two primary target areas of focus for the Foundation. During the last decade, Wadhwani Foundation has launched five high impact Initiatives in India. These include promoting entrepreneurial and employment skills, tapping the educated disabled, encouraging innovation and driving policy changes to jump-start economic opportunities. To address persistently high youth and displaced-worker unemployment in the U.S, Wadhwani Foundation launched the Race to a Job’ initiative in 2012.

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Atul Raja
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