The evolution of the incubator, past, present and future

Brendan Galbraith, Rodney McAdam, Stephen Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
80 Downloads (Pure)


The evolution of the incubator is retraced from the foundational research in the 1950s and 1960s of Research-on-Research—that explored the R&D process in a number of contexts to derive and test theories of organizational behavior. In this paper, we review the next phase of this evolution, starting with seminal incubation research in the early 1970s and, we reflect on the prolific growth of incubation research and practice, as well as new challenges that lie ahead for the next phase of incubation. The incubation field has expanded to include a wide range of models and a plethora of spin-off terminology that have been used interchangeably, with the emergence of the most recent model—the accelerator. Our historical critical review of the evolution of the incubation field is used to ask: in this current era of technological change, what can we learn from the past? We reflect on this question in an attempt to help direct researchers in their endeavors to contribute to the next generation of incubation research. This paper presents lessons learned from prior research and provides a range of indicative areas for further empirical studies at four levels of analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 15 May 2019


  • Incubator, Accelerator, Technology Transfer, Research-on-Research, Innovation Management
  • Technological innovation
  • Biological system modeling
  • incubator
  • Laboratories
  • Organizations
  • research-on-research
  • technology transfer
  • innovation management
  • Silicon
  • Research and development management
  • Accelerator


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