Good article in Business Week on business incubators and job creation. Business incubators are mostly non-profit organizations often linked to local economic development groups. They provide office space and advice to startups. Membership at most incubators is limited and by application.
According to data from the National Association of Business Incubators and quoted in the story, incubators are quite successful. Key quote:
"... 41,000 startups using 1,200 incubators across the country. Participants' survival rate after five years is 87 percent, compared with 44 percent for companies that didn't use incubators ..."
The article points out the growing interest in government at all levels in incubators as job creators. Local, state and federal government agencies are increasing, or planning on increasing, their financial support of incubators.
Private owners are also jumping into the incubator space. The New York Times has an article focused on the privately owned technology incubator Betaworks. It is one of the growing number of VC backed or private owned technology incubators, with yCombinator probably being the best known.
An interesting trend we're seeing is business incubators offering coworking options, and at the same time coworking facilities offering incubator-like services.
As these two types of business facilities continue to grow, we expect more blurring of their definitions and capabilities.