High-impact entrepreneurship in entrepreneurial eco-systems – Exploring system effects of incubator ventures

Projekt: Forskning



  • incubators, entrepreneurial eco-systems, entrepreneurship


Vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems are recognized as important engines for sustainable growth and long-term societal development. It consists of human, financial and professional resources required for new venture creation, co-located in a specific geographical setting, and coupled with an institutional environment that safeguard and encourage entrepreneurship. This institutional environment consists of normative and regulatory pressures exerted by the state and the professions, and includes issues such as the legal system, social networks and cultural rules. In this respect, the entrepreneurial ecosystem concept focuses on the role of the social context in influencing the formation and trajectory of new ventures, as well as potentially the economy as a whole.

A range of studies has pinpointed the critical role of incubator organizations as crucial pivots of local entrepreneurial ecosystems. Overall, incubators function as link between national innovation policies and regional economic development by cultivating potential high-impact entrepreneurship that can generate wealth to a range of stakeholders, including founders, employees and investors, as well as the local community and broader society. Especially, incubators have been emphasized as important mediators of relationships between fledging start-ups and the external world by projecting them in the market, creating opportunities for them, as well as reducing uncertainties. Following this logic, the numbers of incubators across Europe are growing at a significant rate with the hope of increasing the survival rate of start-ups, creating jobs, and promoting economic growth.

University incubators represent a subset of incubator organizations that assist faculty or students who engage in venture creation by providing workspace, shared facilities and a range of business support services. While there has been much academic interest in studying university incubators, prior research has failed to demonstrate any consistent findings regarding the performance of new venture projects that have passed through incubator milieus. However, past studies have primarily focused on performance measured at the level of the new venture, such as survival rates, job creation, and sales growth. The growing number of research on entrepreneurial ecosystems has on the other hand emphasized the need for broader and more systemic performance indicators, such as venture ideas that diffuses among a larger set of actors, or valuable experiences that incubator entrepreneurs can bring with them and share in subsequent venturing projects. While rarely studied, such “system effects” are considered fundamental mechanisms for innovation and value creation in entrepreneurial ecosystems, and they are thus important motives for public interventions in the form of incubator support.

Against the above, the overall purpose of the project is to contribute to developing knowledge about how new venture projects that have passed through university incubators may create sustainable, long-term effects in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Incubator support can to a large extent be motivated by the ambition to create system effects, however, such effects are seldom included in evaluations, and the academic knowledge of such methods is scarce.

The research project aims to develop theoretical knowledge about the potential role of university incubators as drivers of entrepreneurial ecosystems. In addition, the project aims to develop practical knowledge about the entrepreneurial ecosystem surrounding Lund University and how incubator organizations embedded in this ecosystem encourage and support high-impact entrepreneurship.
Gällande start-/slutdatum2019/04/012022/04/01