What is one of the most common denominators in the entrepreneurial industry? Money.

Entrepreneurs and startups create businesses/products, which sparks job growth and in return, brings more dollars and economic development within a region and around the world. This economic development cycle is fueled by many InBIA members who run incubation programs to support these startups, some from idea phase or “early-stage” to market & scale. Far too often we overlook this part of the cycle. The industry, year after year, longs to understand an incubation professional’s compensation levels. That’s why InBIA is excited to publish a 2017 version of the ever-popular Industry Compensation Report to identify industry standards and trends in compensation offerings this fall!

InBIA’s Compensation Survey is a pivotal metric for employee compensation, and also assesses top-ranking levels of employee benefit packaging, both heavily correlated to employee satisfaction. As we all know, compensation packages can come in many different forms; just as incubation professional’s basic salary and benefit levels vary among program size, type and location. For the first time ever, InBIA will explore compensation beyond C-level and executive director management levels to assess compensation of all levels of staff. This is useful information both for job candidates and sponsors who are designing compensation packages for incubation professionals.

Benchmark Your ESO Center’s Compensation

Those who participate in the survey have the opportunity to benchmark how competitive their centers are in employee compensation compared to other centers in the same industry and region. This survey is also ideal for new programs that are figuring out yearly budgets for the first time and how much needs to be allocated for staffing. The more data received, the more a robust and impactful the report will be on how industry professionals are compensated for the work they perform.


You can participate in the 2017 Compensation Survey by November 10th, here!

All participants will be entered in a raffle for a chance to win an InBIA gift card for any InBIA purchase

(Yes – even including events!!)

2014 Industry Compensation Report

InBIA’s report, in the excerpt found below, summarizes compensation levels along with historical comparisons with previous compensation surveys to identify industry trends. From full-time incubator CEO findings & sector-specific salary data, to salaries of InBIA Members vs Non-InBIA members – This report illustrates  the industry’s compensation levels for incubation professionals in 2013.

Full-Time Incubator CEO Findings

Business incubation, like many other industries, has felt the effects of struggling economic times, as compensation levels of top incubator executives decreased over the past four years. The median salary of full-time incubator CEOs in 2013 was $71,750 ($76,492 average), compared with a median figure of $79,325 in 2009 ($86,699 average). The 2013 figures are comparable to 2005 salary levels, when full-time incubator CEOs reported median salaries of $72,000 ($77,523 average). As in previous NBIA compensation surveys, full-time incubator executive salaries varied widely — from a low of $30,000 to a high of $178,905 — depending on a number of factors, including the type of incubator, its location, and the program sponsor.

Managers at most incubator types and most demographic groups reported lower average salaries in 2013 than they did in 2009, when NBIA last conducted its compensation survey. While some of the decrease in salary levels is likely related to the current economic climate, it’s also possible that the 2013 data more accurately reflects industry compensation levels than did the 2009 data, when NBIA received fewer responses to the compensation survey. Data in the 2013 report is based on 133 usable responses from full-time incubator executives; in 2009, NBIA received only 58 usable responses from full-time managers.

As in previous compensation surveys, some interesting trends emerged in the 2013 study that are worth noting. For example, while incubator managers in rural areas continue to earn less than their counterparts in urban or suburban areas, the gap is narrowing. Rural incubator managers reported average annual earnings of $75,707 in 2013, compared with $79,883 for suburban incubator managers and $76,140 for urban incubator executives.

Previous compensation surveys found that managers of technology incubation programs — particularly biotech incubators — earned higher salaries than their peers who managed other types of incubation programs. In 2013, however, executives who said they managed “other” types of incubation programs (including service incubators) earned higher average salaries ($87,534) than did managers of mixed-use or any other types of programs. Managers who directed technology incubators earned the second highest average salary ($83,357).

This report highlights other salary data and demographic characteristics of full-time incubator managers who responded to NBIA’s 2013 compensation survey. When possible, we provide comparisons with findings from previous NBIA compensation studies.

Please note: Although survey respondents include a fair representation of the business incubation industry overall, the number of individuals in some subgroups is small. Therefore, the salary figures within these subgroups should be interpreted with caution. Sample sizes for each subgroup are reported in charts throughout this report. For example, for-profit incubator managers reported lower average salaries ($46,175) than did nonprofit managers ($78,116) for the first time ever. However, for-profit incubation programs represent less than 4 percent of NBIA members and the sample size for that subgroup (n=2) may not represent the overall industry population.

Full-Time CEO Salaries by NBIA Membership Status

NBIA distributed its 2013 compensation survey to incubator executives at both member and nonmember programs, but the majority (87 percent) of respondents were NBIA members. Among those who responded to the survey, incubator executives from NBIA member programs fared better in 2013 than their nonmember counterparts. Incubator managers from NBIA member programs reported average salaries of $78,399, compared with $64,400 at nonmember incubators. Although it’s impossible to determine from the data whether NBIA membership actually leads to higher salaries or whether NBIA members tend to work at better-funded incubation programs that can pay higher wages, it’s still interesting to note the difference. Not enough nonmembers responded to NBIA’s 2009 compensation survey to make member-nonmember comparisons, but average salaries of the two groups were closer in 2005, when the data was last reported ($77,667 for members and $75,500 for nonmembers).

Full-Time CEO Salaries by Incubation Program Tax Status

NBIA queried all U.S. incubator managers for its 2013 compensation survey, regardless of the programs’ tax status, but as in 2009, the vast majority of respondents represented nonprofit programs. For-profit incubator managers made up only 6 percent of the respondents in 2013, up slightly from the 2009 figure of 5 percent. In previous surveys, for-profit incubator executives made up a larger percentage of respondents (10 percent in 2005 and 15 percent in 2000).

Although nonprofit incubator managers typically make up the majority of respondents to NBIA’s compensation survey, examining salary levels by incubator tax status still provides some interesting findings. In all previous compensation studies, for-profit incubator executives earned more than their nonprofit counterpart — in some cases much more, particularly during the dot-com era. However, for the first time in 2013, for-profit incubator managers reported lower average salaries ($46,175) than did nonprofit managers ($78,116). Because of the small number of for-profit programs that participated in the survey (n=2), it’s difficult to say whether this finding marks the start of a new trend or is a result of the small pool of respondents from for-profit incubators. Still, it’s a finding worth watching in future surveys.

When NBIA conducted its 2000 compensation survey, managers of for-profit programs reported average annual earnings of $98,973, compared with $61,598 for nonprofit incubator managers. By 2005 — following the dot-com bust — the earnings gap narrowed considerably: average salaries of for-profit and nonprofit incubator managers were comparable ($78,909 at for-profit programs and $77,383 at nonprofit incubators).

By 2009, salaries of for-profit incubator managers again grew more quickly than those of nonprofit incubator leaders. Directors of for-profit incubation programs reported average annual earnings of $98,067, compared with $86,068 for nonprofit managers.

Full-Time CEO Salary Ranges

One of NBIA’s industry best practices recommends that business incubation programs adequately compensate managers so that they can recruit experienced professionals who are capable of helping start-up companies grow. Unfortunately, since NBIA conducted its last compensation survey in 2009, the industry has actually lost some ground in this area.

Fewer than one in five (19 percent) of full-time incubator executives earned $100,000 or more in 2013, down from 30 percent in 2009 and the same percentage as in 2005. In contrast, more than one-quarter (28 percent) of incubator managers earned less than $60,000 in 2013 — less than the median salary for full-time managers in 2000. In 2009, 14 percent of incubator managers reported annual earnings of less than $60,000.

To purchase the full version of the 2014 Industry Compensation Report, visit InBIA’s bookstore.

Click here to participate in the 2017 Compensation Survey by November 10th. InBIA members will be eligible for discounts on this exclusive, 2017 premiere publication.