How incubation creates value for early-stage entrepreneurs: the People-Place nexus

Nicholls-Nixon C. L., Valliere D., Singh R. M., Hassannezhad Chavoushi Z.

Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, vol.34, no.9-10, pp.868-889, 2022 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 34 Issue: 9-10
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/08985626.2022.2121858
  • Journal Name: Entrepreneurship and Regional Development
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, ABI/INFORM, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, EconLit, Geobase
  • Page Numbers: pp.868-889
  • Keywords: Entrepreneurial support organizations, incubation, embeddedness, new venture development, entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • TED University Affiliated: No


© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.Entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs), such as university business incubators, offer tangible and intangible resources to start-ups. Prior research has theorized how these resources create value for entrepreneurs. However, resources are generally studied objectively and as independent dimensions of the incubation process. This qualitative study seeks deeper understanding of how incubation creates value by exploring the subjective lived experience of incubated entrepreneurs. Taking a grounded theorizing approach, we interviewed 44 entrepreneurs involved in ten university incubation programmes in Toronto, Canada. The emergent conceptual model suggests that value is created by the interconnection between tangible and intangible resources. The physical environment (Place) serves as a space for engaging in meaningful interactions among peers, coaches, volunteers and interns (People). Together, they provide an organizational context that fosters embeddedness. The People-Place nexus creates value in three ways: it supports venture development through entrepreneurial learning, which helps the entrepreneur refine the opportunity and start-up the business; it creates community, which fosters collaboration and mutual support for entrepreneurs as they address start-up challenges; and it signals legitimacy to external stakeholders, which facilitates access to resources. Opportunities for future research examining the interrelationship between incubating and embeddedness are suggested. Policy and managerial implications for ESOs are discussed.