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Good Incubation

This report looks at the craft of supporting early-stage social ventures

This report charts the rise of social venture incubation, with a focus on what can be learned by this burgeoning sector from programmes around the world.

Key Findings

  • There are five models of support that have emerged to support early stage ventures: co-working spaces, social venture academies, impact angel networks, impact accelerators, and social venture prizes and competitions.
  • Over the past five years all these types of support have increased in number around the world to over 230 programmes.
  • While the field of social venture incubation is still in its infancy, there are a number of clear lessons for programme managers, investors and policy makers involved in developing the impact investment ecosystem. The recommendations in the report include:
    1. Develop a better understanding of the business models of incubation.
    2. Help incubators standardise their impact metrics.
    3. Create better ways to help founders choose the right programme.
    4. Help close the post-incubation gap.

Social ventures are increasingly seen as an important way of solving the social and environmental challenges of our age. The world of social (or social impact) investing has developed to finance and support these ventures, taking them to scale when they have a proven and measurable social impact and revenue model.

However, the impact investment world has struggled thus far to develop a reliable ‘pipeline’ of early–stage potential investments to match the growing amount of capital that is available for later–stage ventures. To fill this gap ‘social venture incubation’ has grown to help founders develop ventures that are investable propositions.

‘Incubation’ is a collection of techniques that can be used to prove an idea, develop a team and de–risk ventures for later–stage investors. It happens in accelerator programmes, co–working spaces, social venture academies and learning programmes, competitions and through the work of very early–stage investors. Over the past five years all of these types of programme have increased in number around the world.

This report charts the rise of social venture incubation with a particular focus on what can be learned by this burgeoning sector from programmes around the world. It is intended for people and organisations wanting to support social ventures either as policymakers, investors or people running incubation programmes, to ensure that ventures have the best support.

Authors
Paul Miller and Jessica Stacey