Business Incubators and Accelerators: Here's the Big Difference

The general public may not yet know the difference between business incubators and accelerators, which have both become vital resources for startups.

Despite often getting lumped together, the two concepts have several important factors that differentiate them. Here is a quick guide to navigating these increasingly popular concepts.

What is an incubator?

According to the National Business Incubator Association (NBIA), an incubator is "a business support process that accelerates the successful development of startup and fledgling companies by providing entrepreneurs with an array of targeted resources and services. These services are usually developed or orchestrated by incubator management and offered both in the business incubator and through its network of contacts."

In short, these programs exist to help improve the odds of success for startups.

"One of the ways to think about incubation and entrepreneurship is that they help increase entrepreneurial success, opportunity and are able to strengthen communities," said Micah Kotch, director of innovation and entrepreneurship at Polytechnic Institute of New York University, which runs the Varick St., NYC ACRE and DUMBO incubators.

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