Dr. Sarfraz Mian, professor of marketing and management in SUNY Oswego’s School of Business, joined two co-editors of a new book to take a global view of business incubation, using case studies to describe how technology business incubators by any name—accelerators, science parks, maker spaces—have evolved and gained traction as economic development drivers around the world.

Recently published by Imperial College Press of London, “Technology Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation: Theory, Practice, Lessons Learned” by co-editors Mian, Phillip Phan and Wadid Lamine examines where the concept of protecting and nurturing tech startups began, how it has evolved and where it may be headed in the future.

The 297-page book assembles peer-reviewed papers of top scholars of business incubation and entrepreneurship around the world, filling gaps in the literature around new business creation and survival, regional innovation for economic development and policy/employment decision-making, said Mian, a leading scholar in the field.

Business incubators, the editors note, have evolved from places where technology startups merely shared low-cost space; then through the sharing of services such as accounting, legal and business planning; and on to today’s highly collaborative regional innovation hubs—often involving universities and state policymakers in addition to investors—that have proven to shorten the time between technological discoveries and commercialization.

“One of the key lessons that comes out of this work is that these incubation centers serve as bridging mechanisms for enabling entrepreneurial ecosystems to thrive, and they also act as tools to operationalize our students’ entrepreneurial ambitions,” said the professor of management and marketing.

That kind of bridge, between formal entrepreneurial training and the world of innovation and entrepreneurship, is a crucial one, Mian said.

“One of the points of this book is to show where we need to train people for technological entrepreneurship, and, having given them instructional training, we want them to have the experiential component—experience in an actual venture development setting,” said Mian. “We also don’t have a book such as this that covers the international setting, that includes a lot of countries where this activity is going on. So this is really a global book, giving the cases of various countries that are benefiting from the business incubation mechanisms.”

‘Regional goals’

While technology business incubators have taken many forms in countries such as Brazil, China, France, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Kingdom, the strategy has common characteristics, including, as Mian writes in the book’s first chapter, “a cautious approach emphasizing better feasibility studies, phased development, effective regional partnerships, and operating efficient and sustainable programs that are integrated with regional goals.”

The new book grew from conversations at Technology Business Incubation and Development, a global conference Lamine organized in France, according to Mian.

Phan, an Alonzo and Virginia Decker Professor of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship at Johns Hopkins University’s Cary Business School, contributed, with two co-authors, a chapter synthesizing existing research on best practices in science parks and incubators, and opportunities for future research.

Lamine, formerly a visiting assistant professor in SUNY Oswego’s School of Business and a mentee of Mian’s, is an associate professor of entrepreneurship at Toulouse Business School in France. He co-authored a chapter on how business incubators have helped create an environment conducive to startups in Tunisia.

The broader topic of entrepreneurial universities that support entrepreneurship education and business incubation has kept Mian busy. In December, he plans to make his third invited conference keynote of the year, for the National Exposé on Developing Public Sector Universities into Entrepreneurial Universities of Relevance in Karachi, Pakistan.

Mian also is guest editor for special issues on these topics in three peer-reviewed journals, Technovation, Small Business Economics and the Journal of Technology Transfer.