Incubator, accelerator or co-working space?
Incubator? Accelerator? Co-working space? When choosing where to base and grow your business, there are many options. But what do these labels really mean? Le's explore some definitions and differences.
Image: SoCentral, one of the incubators in Oslo specializing on social entrepreneurs and sustainability.
- Incubator – an incubator for startups and businesses is designed to help survival at an early stage. The idea is to incubate ideas at birth by offering expert support, and the opportunity to test and validate ideas and concepts. This way sound business plans, models and companies can be nurtured in a safe environment. An incubator is normally limited to a certain time period, but this is normally generous, 1-3 years, to give founders that are not in immediate need of funding an opportunity to work with mentors and industry experts. Selected through applications or recommendations.
- Accelerator – an accelerator normally comes in the form of a program defined in limited time and space. It is purely dedicated to speed up, or accelerate, the scaling of an established company. To be part of an accelerator, you go through an application process, and accepted companies often receive a smaller investment at the beginning. After kick-off there are intense working days, in teams, with other teams, with mentors, experts, investors and media, culminating in a demo session where your business and progress is presented. Some accelerators offer office space during the program, but not all.
- Co-working space – in a co-working space you rent a desk or an office, giving you access to shared utilities. It is an environment in which you meet other people, typically in a similar situation as you, well suited to share experience and knowledge. Many co-working spaces host networking events to support business development and growth.
These definitions seem pretty clear and straightforward. However, categories cross over and are not always as easy to label. Many of the different spaces do bits of this and bobs of that, so it is important to do define exactly what you need and that this is covered when making your decision on where to spend the time running and growing your business.
In Oslo you can find several professional incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces, tailored for your needs, industry and different stages of your business - from early phase to growth. Read more about them by clicking on one of the links below.