"Incubator and accelerator role in the social entrepreneurship process" : Swedish context
Abstract: The interest in social entrepreneurship is increasing in Europe in general and Sweden in particular. Because social entrepreneurs (SEs) and incubators share a common aim of enhancing development and improving the living conditions of the people, one would think that they tend to work together more closely than in case when incubators work with the conventional entrepreneurs (CEs). Incubator activities can influence the process of the SE. The purpose of this paper was to identify which activities, that they provide, can influence the SE’s growth. We were also interested in examining how those activities differ when working with the CEs. To fulfill this purpose, we developed the research question: What are the roles of incubators and accelerators in the entrepreneurial process of SE and how they differ from the roles played in the entrepreneurial process of CE? In order to answer the research question and fulfil the objectives of study in hand, we embraced interpretivist approach and qualitative method for data collection and analysis. 6 semi structured interviews are conducted with SEs that have experience in participating in incubator and accelerator programs, as well as two experts from the side of incubator and accelerator programs. It has been found that education, making contacts and facilitating meetings as well as the office space are the main roles of incubator and accelerator programs, which have as their goal to assist SEs. Moreover, it is found that not all of the roles are equally significant, nor that they are played out through all the phases of the entrepreneurial process. Stages of the entrepreneurial process are revised, and their content is found to be different in comparison with social entrepreneurship. We answer the second part of our research question by carrying out a comparative discussion based on the empirical findings on SEs and existing literature on CEs. We summaries these difference by the means of a table. Finally, we put together and connect roles of incubator and accelerator programs interested in scaling of SEs and the entrepreneurial process, where the model linking the roles through the entrepreneurial phases of SE is proposed. Hence, we conclude that our research question has been answered and research purpose fulfilled.
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