What are startup incubators?

Startup incubators are institutions that help entrepreneurs to develop their business, especially in the initial stages. Incubation function is usually done by institutions who have experience in business and technology world. Incubator support includes providing technological facilities and advices, initial growth funds, network and linkages, co-working spaces, lab facilities, mentoring and advisory support. As early stage mentors, incubators are an important part of the startup ecosystem.

According to the handbook for Non-Profit Incubator Managers authored by IIMA’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), ‘incubation should be seen as the process of de-risking an idea or a start-up and helping them improve the odds of success.’

Role of incubators under the startup policy

Incubators have an important role in the government’s Startup India Scheme. As part of the Scheme, the government has recognized 56 incubators across the country for supporting the startups. These incubators can recommend startups for availing benefits under the Startup India Scheme.

Overall, there around 250 recognized incubators in the country (including the 56 under the startup policy) now and several of them are sponsored by esteemed educational institutions like IIMs, IITs and specialized startup agencies like Kerala Startup Mission.

Startup incubators in India

Government’s startup policy gives prime role to incubators by giving them recognition, regulation guidelines and financial help. The identified incubators have to provide the various assistance to startups. Atal Innovation Mission promotes Atal Incubation Centres to realise its mission objectives.

Atal Incubation centres

AIM has supported the launch of incubation centres called Atal Incubation Centres (AICs) to create world class incubation facilities across India with suitable physical infrastructure. The AICs should provide capital equipment, operating facilities, experts for mentoring the start-ups, business planning support, supply of seed capital, providing industry partners, trainings etc., required for encouraging innovative start-ups. Atal Incubation Centers are established in in areas such as manufacturing, transport, energy, health, education, agriculture, water and sanitation etc.

Business and technology related entities including higher educational institutions, R&D institutes, corporate sector, alternative investment funds registered with SEBI, business accelerators, individual groups, and even individuals are eligible to apply as AICs.

Selected AICs will get a grant-in-aid of upto Rs. 10 crore for a maximum period of 5 years to cover the capital and operational expenditures under the AIM.