Step 1: Complete Application
All prospective clients would complete a brief application form. A completed application provides the incubator with a brief description of the applicant’s current business status, and a very preliminary sense of the applicant’s service and facility needs.
Step 2: Complete Business Model Canvas
All prospective clients would complete a business model canvas. This is require for the first level selection process. Successful applicants will be invited for the next step of the application process.
Step 3: Provide Business Description or Business Plan
Prospective clients that complete Step 1 and are determined to be a potentially eligible company, would be required to augment their application with a business plan or written business description. The Executive Director and an individual with expertise in the applicant’s industry would review the document. It should provide more in-depth information about the stage of business development, stature of the management team, market potential, and overall potential for success. At this point, if the business description or business plan adequately addresses screening criteria pre-established by the Board, the Executive Director could approve the applicant for acceptance and inform the Board. If the Executive Director needs additional assistance to determine if approval is appropriate for an applicant an additional step would be added. It involves a brief presentation to an incubator panel as described below.
Step 4: Present to Incubator Panel
The prospective client would present their business case to a small panel of three to four people comprised of Board members, appropriate industry experts, and the Executive Director. The panelist role is to assist the Executive Director in understanding the business case and determining if the applicant should be approved for acceptance into the incubator. Based on the panelist input, the Executive Director would make a decision regarding acceptance and inform the Board.
Application Evaluation Criteria
The criteria used to evaluate prospective clients throughout the application process should be based on the mission and objectives of the incubator and be compatible with the broad mix of technologies supported by the incubator.
Suggested basic evaluation criteria include:
- The business should be a technology-related firm producing offerings that can be commercialized within three years. Compatible manufacturing firms that meet these criteria would also be eligible to apply, provided their space needs were compatible with the incubator facility.
- The business must be in early stages of development. Early stage usually means within the first two years of business operations, but small companies involved in a significant change in direction or launching a new business product may also apply.
- The applicant must show ability to pay incubator rents while they develop positive cash flow.
- The applicant must have a management team that the Executive Director feels can handle the technical aspects of the business. The management team should have entrepreneurial business acumen or be willing to accept advice from an incubator established advisory board.
- The applicant must want to take advantage of and be able to benefit from the value-added services and guidance of the incubator. The applicant business must be willing to take advice from the professional network and/or the Executive Director.
- The applicant business must have the capacity for growth and provide economic benefits to the area including creating new jobs and opportunities for area suppliers and vendors.
- The applicant must not be in direct competition with existing incubator businesses