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Incubator infrastructure and_services

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Incubator infrastructure and_services

  1. 1. IncubatorInfrastructure and Services By Regina Fátima Faria and Lucimar Campos Caldeira Dantas COPPE Business Incubator University of Rio de Janeiro - UFRJ Rio de Janeiro- Brazil
  2. 2. February 2004 2
  3. 3. © iDISC 2004Applications for permission to reproduce or translate allor part of this work should be made to:infoDev Incubator Support Center (iDISC)Brasilia Trade Center SCN Quadra 1 Bloco CSalas 209 a 211, Brasília/DF - BrazilZip Code: 70711-902Tel./Fax: +55 (61) 3202-1555URL: http://www.idisc.netEmail: idisc@idisc.net
  4. 4. SUMMARYAccording to the authors, the first perception to the need of the implementation of a business incubator in agiven community is highly subjective and could only be validated and supported after technical, economicand market studies are considered.After a brief description of all the variables and the above mentioned studies to which any incubator’simplementing project could be subject to, the paper highlights the importance that the choice of an incubatorinfrastructure will play in its daily operations as well as in its provided services.Special attention should also be given to the easy-to-use list of important and facility-related details one willhave to take into account when implementing or refurbishing a business incubator.
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  6. 6. Incubator Infrastructure1. INTRODUCTIONIf a business incubator is to make a shared infrastructure available to client companies, the first questionthat must be answered in the planning stage is who is the incubator’s target public. The answer to thisquestion will aid in determining the physical characteristics of the facilities, which is the first step in definingthe infrastructure to be offered to businesses by the incubator.In this sense, a biotechnology ncubator will have physical characteristics that are sharply different from ithose of an incubator for software companies or cooperatives.Once the market niche to be targeted has been identified, an important subsequent step is to visit alreadyoperating incubators with characteristics similar to those of the project in question. These visits will be animportant learning process that will aid in responding to questions such as the following: what works welland what works poorly? What should be changed, if change were possible? And how much was investedand what is the forecast value of the budget? The fundamental importance of these visits is to takeadvantage of the experience of other incubators in order to avoid the problems with which they have had tocope.The next step is to plan the operations of the incubator. A definition of the services to be provided willindicate not only the facilities considered ideal but also those that can feasibly be made available by theincubator.While each incubator will have its own specific project based on the characteristics of the public it intendsto serve, there are certain aspects that must be considered in any project since they greatly facilitate anincubator’s operation. Though these aspects are discussed in this paper, one must stress from the veryoutset that, while the facilities offered are obviously important, an incubator is much more than its physicalinstallations.2. PLANNING THE FUTUREThe perception of the need for a business incubator is a result of identification of entrepreneurs or persons withentrepreneurial potential within a specific environment, coupled with recognition of the fact that they will need supportand infrastructure in order to create their businesses.Since this perception is frequently subjective at the start, it must be validated through technical, economic and marketfeasibility studies.The feasibility study is the first step in planning the process of incubator implementation. Should the conclusions ofthe study be positive, the process of validating the opportunity moves a step further to elaboration of a business thatwill aid in avoiding the existence of grave failings in the premises underlying the facilities, services and actionstrategies of the incubator.The incubator’s business plan must reflect an understanding of the environment in which it will operate as well as theopportunities and threats inherent to that environment. At the same time, it must indicate its marketing and operatingstrategies and, finally, the expected financial results. 1
  7. 7. Incubator InfrastructureIn planning the future of the incubator, a successful analysis requires that certain fundamental items be taken intoaccount. These items are discussed below:The first analysis to be made involves the mapping of the political, economic, social and technological environments1in which the incubator will operate. This analysis should point out the opportunities and threats to be considered inelaborating the incubator’s action strategy. If, for example, the incubator intends to seek public sector financing, itmust be constantly aware of changes in government, public policies and possible interruptions in investment flows.Once the macro environment and its trends are understood, the competition, possible substitutes and new marketentries, their strong points and weak points and the elements that differentiate one from another must be assessed.In this way, it will be possible to understand the opportunities that can be used to the advantage of the futureincubator, always in the light of the needs of its clients, and to develop services and facilities that will differentiate theincubator from others.A detailed and wide-ranging analysis must be made of the incubator’s target public, which is composed of theentrepreneurs who have come forward as candidates to positions within the incubator. An understanding of theirneeds and expectations makes it possible for the incubator to identify its market niche and determine the combinationof services that it intends to offer. This, in turn, will result in the definition of the required infrastructure and the pricepolicy to be followed. Once the incubator’s public has been defined, it will then be possible to plan its communicationsstrategy.From this point forward, it is possible to define the incubator’s strategic plan, its vision of the future, its mission, theelements that differentiate it from others, its sources of competitive advantage and goals for the future.Once these decisions have been taken, the next step is to define the abilities required for operation of the incubatorand map the processes to be followed for the incubator to fulfill its mission successfully. This, in turn, will demandadoption of a management style and a system of controls that are consistent with the defined strategic plan. Thedecision as to the level of automation to be adopted in the incubator’s activities must take due account of therelationship among the required investments and the degree of control attained and reductions in operating costs.Here, it is important to recall that resources are more easily obtained during implementation of the incubator than afterit has already begun operating.Finally, at this point, sufficient information will be available to initiate the process of financial planning, the final stageof incubator planning. The first step is to analyze the investments required for implementation of the incubator. Sincethe target public has already been defined, it will be possible to define the dimensions of demand, which, coupled withthe price policy adopted, results in a forecast of the incubator’s expected revenue. Having calculated the costs of thedefined infrastructure and forecast revenues, it is possible to deduce the expected financial result and conclude as towhether the project will be financially self-sustaining or not. Validation of the idea of implementing an incubator isconcluded once the project’s potential for sustainability has been identified, since this is one of the key premises forthe incubator’s success. Together with the question of sustainability, the decision as to the ideal size of the incubatoris essential to ensuring its independence from external resources.2.1 BUILDINGIn the incubator planning stage, the decision as to the location of the building is very important. The area surroundingthe incubator must be carefully evaluated in order to identify available transportation, the existence of postal and1 Mainly in the case of technology based incubators. Even the traditional and more simplified types of incubator mustevaluate the technological trends that could potentially impact their operations.2
  8. 8. Incubator Infrastructurebanking services in the region and even the type of neighborhood, all with an eye to avoiding future problems. Asidefrom this, in the case of technology-based incubators, it is important that they be located near universities or researchcenters. When dealing with a traditional incubator, it may be more important to locate it in an area with easy accessto marketing facilities.However, the decision-making process is often based on the space that support institutions are able to offer to theproject. Consequently, incubators are frequently installed in already constructed buildings.There are advantages and disadvantages in choosing to adjust a building to the needs of the incubator or constructinga building specifically for the project. For example, if the projected building has the advantage of being tailored to theneeds of the incubator, it will require voluminous investments that development institutions are normally not in aposition to finance. In general, it is thought that the cost of adapting an already existent building will normally besharply lower than the cost of a new construction. However, this is not always the case since we have often comeupon buildings that have cost just as much or even more to renovate than it would have cost to build new facilities. Inthis case, there are dual disadvantages: the higher cost and a lack of the functionality that would be found in abuilding constructed specifically for the incubator. One aspect that cannot be forgotten in opting to renovate a buildingis the benefit of making use of a facility that is often idle or underutilized.The need and feasibility of investments in incubator implementation are determining factors for the project, whileunderstanding the dynamics of what is ideal and what is feasible is a fundamental condition for the success of projectmanagement.At the same time, however, it is always easier to obtain resources with a detailed architectonic project.Independently of whether the building is projected or adapted, what is fundamental is that an atmosphere favorable tothe development of businesses be created and this can be achieved in either one of the two options.MAJOR CHARACTERISTICS2.1.1 SIZEWhat should be the size of the incubator? Should it serve the needs of 10, 20 or even 100 companies? Thesequestions can be answered by analyzing the following aspects: § Operating costs of the incubator; § Earnings on the investment financed by support institutions, should this case arise; § Payment capacity of the companies served and rent levels found in the region; § Capacity to attract entrepreneurs to the incubator; § Type of business served.The balancing of these variables will indicate the number of companies that the incubator will have to serve tobecome self-sustainable over the course of time and, consequently, the total area of the building.One should stress that a very small building can make an incubator unfeasible, since costs will be high and there will 3
  9. 9. Incubator Infrastructurebe little attractiveness for public and private investments. However, disadvantages can also be found in largebuildings, since a low occupancy rate could be viewed as a sign of failure of the project. Finding the precise size of theincubator is a challenge that a well-elaborated business plan can help to overcome.2.1.2 GROWING TOGETHEROne of the greatest benefits offered to companies by the incubator process is the opportunity for contacts with otherbusinesses. Interaction among different companies results in an enriching learning process, the sharing of contactnetworks and even personal support in difficult moments and the infrastructure is one of the factors capable offostering this synergy.Wide corridors, coffee bars and restaurants provide space for the people who circulate through the incubator to comeinto contact with one another, building the informal contacts that will result in a synergy between the clientcompanies and incubator management.2.1.3 MODULAR SYSTEMOne of the advantages that an incubator can provide to companies is flexibility in the occupation of physical space.The modular system allows a company to occupy a specific amount of space that can be gradually expanded toincorporate other modules as the company expands and requires more space. The modules are prepared with types ofmaterial that can be easily assembled and dismounted, such as room dividers and plaster of paris sheets. In analyzingthe materials available for building modular systems, one cannot ignore the importance of using acoustically efficientmaterial so as to avoid the possibility of one company interfering with another.In general, the standard module is a private room. However, many incubators that work with smaller companies thatrequire little physical space allow different companies to share the same space. This shared space is designated asthe point and represents a system that can be very interesting for companies that have some degree of synergybetween their operations or that are still in the embryonic stage of business development.The area of each module should be defined on the basis of the type of company the incubator intends to serve andnormally varies between 20 and 30m2.Depending on the nature of the incubator, there will be considerable variation in the types of furniture used and even inthe basic infrastructure. For instance, some types of businesses will need such things as water outlets and otherfacilities in their rooms. It is also advisable to turn the rooms over to the occupants ready for the installation of wall-mounted air-conditioning, so as to avoid a lack of standardization that could be damaging to the façade of the building.At the same time, doors should be wider then usual so as to facilitate entry and removal of materials and equipment.In the case of multi sector incubators, providing a fully prepared room is a complex task since the needs of businessesvary significantly. Sectoral incubators do not have to cope with this type of problem since the companies they servewill have very similar needs. In this case, investments in basic furniture and equipment can be justified, since differentcompanies will use these items over the years during which the incubator remains in operation.4
  10. 10. Incubator Infrastructure2.1.4 COMMON AREASAside from the private areas provided to each company, the incubator normally has common areas that are oftenlinked to the different types of services offered. These common areas provide companies with shared access to manyfacilities that a still embryonic company operating outside the incubator would not be able to access.Among these items, one should cite the auditorium, meeting rooms, reception area, workshops, printing and copycenter, libraries and parking areas.In most incubators, utilization of these areas does not involve additional costs. Consequently, the costs of thesefacilities must be foreseen in the incubator’s operating costs.The incubator must issue specific and detailed regulations on the use of common areas, carefully defining the rightsand responsibilities of all parties involved. In general, this subject is dealt with in the Internal Bylaws of the incubator.2.1.5 RESERVED AREASThe flexibility of the modular system demands that modules be readily available to meet the needs of expandingbusinesses.Since it is difficult to control demand for incubator services, free modules must always be available so that theincubator can respond rapidly to new business opportunities that may appear during the selection process. Evidently,there are cost implications for those incubators that resolve to maintain a stock of available modules and these mustbe considered in any evaluation of the sustainability of the incubator.Parallel to this, there can be a significant need for expanding the physical capacity of the incubator as it consolidatesits activities and trademark and as the business incubator movement is strengthened. This means that the incubatormust have an expansion plan and the required available space needed to enlarge its facilities.2.1.6 24-HOUR ACCESSAn aspect of importance to client companies is 24-hour access to their private rooms since each of the companieswill have its own specific work routines. Management will have to issue regulations on access to common areas,since these are not normally available on a permanent basis.2.1.7 ENVIRONMENTIt is essential that the incubator create an innovative environment that will aid in strengthening its mission.Consequently, the choice of furnishings, the architectonic project, and integration with nature are all elements ofimportance to generating this atmosphere of creativity and innovation. Obviously, creation of a new business is ahighly stressful undertaking and adoption of adequate colors, lighting, plants and so forth can make the environmentmore pleasant and harmonious.Visual programming that identifies individual spaces, common areas and service areas not only facilitates 5
  11. 11. Incubator Infrastructurecommunication with users, but also builds an awareness among them of the need for organizing their work activities,while also serving decorative ends.Here one cannot fail to recall that the cost of these initiatives must always be taken into account. The process ofdefining the material to be used must necessarily consider questions of durability, maintenance and replacementcosts, so as to avoid future problems. To achieve the desired result, it is often possible to use much cheaper elementssuch as color variations and alternative materials and installations that facilitate and reduce maintenance costs.3. SPECIAL FACILITESDepending on the sector served by the incubator, there may be a need for special facilities. This is particularly true inareas such as biotechnology, chemicals, agribusiness, metallurgy, pharmaceuticals, and so forth. In these cases, boththe specific demands of the sector and current legislation must be carefully analyzed before defining the architectonicproject for renovation or construction of the building.Based on these demands, it is possible to define the specific services that the incubator intends to offer tobusinesses, such as technical consulting and specialized technical services.FACILITIES AND RELATED SERVICES3.1. INTERNETThe need for Internet access is common to all client companies. They will certainly need a very stable and high-speedaccess. Therefore the incubator needs to have a reliable server and a contingency plan for emergencies.3.2 TELEPHONETraditionally, incubators offer resident companies telephone extensions, fax and telephone operator services. Despitethe currently abundant supply of telephone lines, the initial costs involved in installing and maintaining individualtelephone systems tend to make shared use of these services particularly interesting to embryonic companies.The incubator’s telephone system will require a switching center and a rate calculation mechanism that will make itpossible to charge calls made to each of the user companies. On evaluating the possibility of installing an automaticanswering system, it is often worthwhile to analyze the receptionist’s workload to study the possibility of the sameperson accumulating the functions of telephone operator.A definition of the number of extensions to be installed in each room will vary according to the nature of the activity ofthe client company. According to specialists in this field, the system should have one line for every 6 to 8 extensions.Aside from the regular telephone system, incubators should also analyze the possibility of installing public telephones.One of the primary aspects to be analyzed in the choice of a telephone switching center is its flexibility should futureexpansion become necessary. The building plans should also consider the possibility of companies installing their owntelephone systems in their individual rooms.6
  12. 12. Incubator Infrastructure3.3 COMPUTER NETWORKOne facility that is highly desirable for an incubator is a secure computer network in which companies can store theirinformation. It is important, however, that the system be truly secure, with periodic backups and a contingency planfor critical situations. Aside from the availability of this network, the incubator must also have the maintenance andsupport services needed by the companies involved.Just as occurs with other facilities, the activities of the businesses must be considered when defining the number ofcomputer outlets to be installed in each module.3.4 LABORATORIESDepending on the specific nature of the incubator, laboratories will be needed for tests and analyses. A computerlaboratory, equipped with machines and printers to be used by the companies, will also be necessary. Aside from thelaboratories, the incubator may also opt to provide client companies with specific testing and analysis services.While these highly specialized facilities will normally require voluminous investments, they may well be essential forbusinesses operating in the chemical and biotechnology fields. In these cases, one possible alternative would beagreements with local universities and research centers to utilize their facilities.3.5 PRINTING AND COPY CENTERThe availability of shared high quality printing and copying equipment is very useful to both companies andmanagement, since it reduces costs and parallel investments by the companies.The ideal solution would be to use an automatic system of charging each company for its use of these facilities. Pricesmust cover the costs of inputs, maintenance and depreciation of the equipment.3.6 LIBRARYThough the availability of a library of books and periodicals dealing with the specific sectors served by the incubator isimportant to the companies involved, the incubator must carefully analyze the costs of maintaining such a facility.Nonetheless, subscriptions to software, journals and specialized magazines to be shared by the resident companies ishighly recommended, since this is a factor capable of reducing the costs borne by the businesses.3.7 MEETING ROOMSThis facility is widely used by companies for internal meetings and encounters with clients. If space is available, thebest option is to install smaller support rooms instead of a single large meeting room, since this solution makes moreefficient use of the available physical space.One of the rooms should be equipped with connections to the incubator’s computer network and the Internet, togetherwith a white board for notes and a microcomputer and data show projection system. The other small rooms do not 7
  13. 13. Incubator Infrastructurehave to be supplied with this type of equipment. One item that is quite convenient is a mechanism that will make itpossible to know if the room is being utilized. In this case, if it is not possible to install a glass-viewing window in thedoor to the room, a simple light above the door to the room to be lit when occupied is sufficient.3.8 AUDITORIUMThe use of the auditorium is not limited to lectures and seminars. When meeting rooms do not have the spacerequired for larger meetings, these can be shifted to the auditorium. Consequently, the furnishings used should make itpossible to arrange the auditorium for different types of utilization. Facilities should also be offered for connections tothe computer network and the Internet, together with equipment for data shows, sound, projection screen, whiteboard and flipchart for taking notes.Depending on the policy adopted by the incubator, use of the auditorium and meeting rooms would normally have tobe scheduled beforehand and the incubator would opt whether or not to charge the companies for these services.3.9 STORAGEIn order to avoid storage of material and equipment in unsuitable locations, it is important for the smooth operation ofthe incubator to reserve specific areas for this purpose. The incubator must have very clear rules on storage,specifying the types of material that can be stored, the time periods and volumes permitted and the responsibilities ofthe parties involved, together with a very strict system of control over the products stored. These rules should beincorporated into the Internal Bylaws of the incubator.3.10 STOCKROOMAside from the storage facility, the incubator should also have a stockroom for storage and control of the materialused on a daily basis.3.11 WORKSHOPSDepending on the nature of the incubator, there may be a need for very simple or even highly sophisticated andspecialized workshops. Independently of these workshops, the incubator should consider the possibility of installing abuilding maintenance workshop, equipped with a bench for electric repairs, access to water and an area for servicesinvolving wood, resins and painting for example.Just as in the case of the laboratories, the workshops should also be prepared to provide complementary services,such as technical consulting and building maintenance.3.12 PARKINGIt is important that the incubator have available parking, since the client companies will need to provide comfort andsecurity to their clients. The parking area should be projected with a minimum of 4 spaces per company and one8
  14. 14. Incubator Infrastructurespace for the handicapped, an area for motorcycles and bicycles. Depending on the type of company served, space fortrucks may also be required. The incubator should also consider the possibility of offering a system of controlled entryand departure from the parking area with a security guard at night.3.13 FACILITIES FOR THE HANDICAPPEDAside from providing specific parking for the handicapped, the entire building project should ensure that thehandicapped would be able to access all of the facilities, including access ramps, doors wide enough for wheelchairsand special bathroom facilities.3.14 RECEPTIONThe main entrance to the incubator plays an essential role in generating a good impression among clients andcontrolling access to the building. The entrance should lead to a reception area located in such a way as to facilitateidentification of those entering and leaving the building.This area of the building should be equipped with clear indications of the different areas of the building, a bulletinboard, data on its locations and the areas of activity of the resident companies and, finally, basic information on theincubator and its partners, together with seating for clients.Among the functions that can be delegated to the reception is the sending and receiving of fax messages, documentsand correspondence and control of such external activities as bank and postal services. It is recommended that therebe ingoing and outgoing boxes for controlling correspondence, mail and bank documents. When reception personnelabsorb these services, the layout must meet the minimum standards of comfort and security required for theseactivities.3.15 AREA FOR EVENTSIt is a common practice for incubators to produce events and, consequently, they need space for such activities asexpositions, receptions, parties and the like. These facilities are generally used by the incubator itself, by the clientcompanies or even by the institution’s partners. One alternative would be to have a sufficiently large entrance hall withthe flexibility needed to hold such events in that area.3.16 CORRIDORSMany contacts begin in informal conversations in incubator corridors. For this reason, wide, well-lighted andventilated corridors are important for creating an environment suited to interaction among people.Another important aspect is a system of identification that makes it easy to locate rooms. It is recommended that thesystem of identification be standardized to avoid visual pollution in the incubator. Some incubators have showwindows in their corridors where companies can display their products and advertising material. In order to avoiddecharacterizing the environment, the incubator must define very strict rules regulating the use of decorative or evenfunctional objects that may interfere with its visual identity. 9
  15. 15. Incubator InfrastructureThe flooring used in the corridors should be easily cleaned material that is resistant to the intense traffic found atmany incubators. It is important that trash baskets be located throughout the corridors and in the common areas ofthe incubator.3.17 SMOKING AREASince the private rooms do not normally have any free space, the designation of spaces in public areas wheresmoking is allowed is important. The areas where smoking is permitted or prohibited should be clearly identified.3.18 MANAGEMENTJust as the client companies, management must also have its own specific operating space and will also make use ofthe facilities provided in the common areas of the incubator, such as meeting rooms, storage and software libraries.Companies are inevitably influenced by management style. For this reason, the incubator should make a point ofmaintaining well organized environments with decoration suited to the principles underlying the institution, plants andpictures, transforming the environment into an image of what is expected of the businesses.If the incubator has plans to expand its operations in the future, it must also have plans to expand the area reserved tomanagement, since growth in incubator services will demand a larger management team and, consequently,increased physical space.3.19 RESTAURANT/ CAFETERIAA restaurant or cafeteria not only facilitates interaction among companies, but also provides them with the possibilityof a more comfortable environment for their workers, while also serving as an informal space for meeting clients.3.20 KITCHENThe incubator should have a simple type of kitchen equipped with a sink, refrigerator and equipment that can be usedto warm food, such as a microwave oven. The design of this area should give due consideration to its potential forfostering interaction among people.3.21 LOCKER ROOMSince some work activities may require the use of suitable uniforms, it is important that the incubator provide a placefor changing clothes and taking a shower. The most common solution is to adapt the bathrooms for this purpose. Inorder to more efficiently organize the physical space of the rooms, it is recommended that lockers be provided whereboth employees of the companies and the management staff can keep their belongings.10
  16. 16. Incubator Infrastructure3.22 BATHROOMSThe ideal solution would be to provide at least one bathroom for women and one for men, both equipped for thephysically handicapped. A decision with regard to the number of bathrooms will depend on the number of peoplecirculating through the incubators as well as on the gender ratio.3.23 SERVICE AREAA support area should be provided for the general services of the incubator and should be equipped with at least alarge sink and workbench. The area should be sufficiently large for a clothesline and for those activities that cannot becarried out in the workshop, such as the painting of larger objects.3.24 SERVICE EXITJust as in the case of the reception area, the service exit is important to creating a good impression of theenvironment. Consequently, the project should provide for an exit that is independent of the main entrance, thusreducing unnecessary circulation through the corridors. An alternative solution is to determine a different time periodfor this type of circulation outside the normal operating period of the incubator. The incubator can also use servicecarts and other equipment in order to facilitate the movement of cargo and access to cars and trucks.3.25 SELECTIVE TRASH DISPOSALTrash baskets should be placed in the corridors while containers and dumpsters can be placed in the service areaawaiting the arrival of the public trash collection system. It is recommended that the selective system of trashcollection be used, since this is easily implemented.Cleaning services also include trash collection and should occur at least once a day in each one of the rooms.3.26 LIGHTINGThough the intensity of the lighting will depend on the type of work activity to be performed in each locality, an effortshould be made in the building project to create a well-lighted environment. Here, it is possible to take advantage ofsuch low cost alternatives as natural lighting.3.27 AIR-CONDITIONING AND VENTILATIONJust as in the case of the intensity of the lighting, adequate ventilation and refrigeration will depend on the type ofwork activity carried out in each environment, as well as on the number of people circulating in the building. In thiscase, it is worth considering such alternatives as natural ventilation and installation of systems that can be expandedas the operations of the incubator increase. 11
  17. 17. Incubator Infrastructure3.28 ELECTRICAL NETWORKThe supply of electricity provided to each of the modules should be appropriate to the different activities carried out bythe companies. Since the consumption of one company may be significantly different from that of another, it isrecommended that each room have its own meter to measure consumption.For purposes of incubator security, it is essential that lightening rods be installed in the building and that the electricitynetwork, computer network and telephone system be grounded.In order to facilitate and reduce the maintenance costs of the electric system, installation of external conduits isrecommended.3.29 SECURITY SYSTEMSince the incubator is accessible 24 hours a day and a large number of people and volume of material are constantlycirculating throughout the building, it is essential that an efficient security system be installed. Here, the final solutionwill depend on the operations and layout of the incubator. However, most incubators opt for the use of guards, alarmsystems and closed circuit television.It is important to observe that the greater the automation of this system, the lesser will be its impact on the operatingcosts of the incubator.The security system should take due account of the locality in which the incubator is installed and the securityconditions that the public authority provides to the local community.3.30 SECOND FLOORShould the incubator operate in a two-story building, at least one system capable of moving cargo to the upper floorshould be installed. At the same time, emergency exits should also be provided for the second floor.3.31 FIRE PREVENTION SYSTEMDepending on the activities performed by the companies, it may be necessary to design the fire prevention system forspecific risks, often with carefully defined regulations and control systems. However, some measures are valid for anytype of activity, including extinguishers and hoses, water tanks and hydrants, easy access to emergency exits,emergency lighting, smoke detectors and fire alarms. At the same time, a fire brigade should also be trained to actshould a fire occur.Note: One type of service that must be provided throughout the common use facilities of the incubator are cleaningand maintenance. This service can also be extended to the private areas of each company.12
  18. 18. Incubator Infrastructure4. FINAL RECOMENDATIONS § It is essential that the person charged with coordinating the activities of the incubator possess leadership skills, with the capacity to conjugate the political function needed to deal with the adverse situations that will appear during implementation and operation of the incubator with the capacity to operate as a true entrepreneur since, in final analysis, the business incubator is nothing more and nothing less than a small business. § Aside from the motivation of the coordinator, another factor of fundamental importance to its success is its identification with the parent institution. There must be a clear synergy between the objectives of the institution and the reasons underlying construction of the incubator. § One problem commonly found among incubators is a lack of commitment on the part of the participating businesses in scheduling utilization of the common use facilities and services offered. One way of resolving this problem is to institute a system of fines for those businesses that fail to submit prior notification of the use of such facilities. § In order to ensure that the incubator’s installations will be properly used, it is recommended that companies be obligated to attest to the conditions in which a room was received and ensure that it will be returned in the same conditions. § One of the objectives of the incubator is to foster generation of citizen companies that fully respect the rules and legislation in effect. This type of behavior will then serve as an example for other companies included within the incubator. § In order to minimize future conflicts, it is essential that the incubator elaborate its Internal Bylaws, setting down rules on its routines and the use of the common and private spaces and services offered. § Great care should be taken with the blue prints that define the architectural design of the building, electrical and water installations and the computer network. It is always a good idea to maintain a copy filed in another location outside the incubator. The same procedure should be followed for important documents and files. § It is important to keep in mind that the purpose of the incubator is to shelter small businesses. Consequently, the environment should be pleasant and simple, while avoiding all forms of superfluity.5. CONCLUSIONThough implementation of a business incubator is a challenge to be overcome by the people and institutions involvedin the undertaking, a detailed project and consistent business plan will greatly facilitate this task.What this document does is present the optimal infrastructure for operation of a business incubator. During the periodof implementation of each incubator, the managing institution will have to cope with highly distinct realities. However,the fact of having to deal with these difficulties and restrictions does not mean that success of the incubator will belimited by its physical infrastructure. As already stated, an incubator is much more than its physical installations! 13
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