Fifteen months ago, I was invited to lead InBIA as its President and CEO. Since the organization was founded in 1985, InBIA has grown to serve over 2,100 members located in every state of the U.S., as well as in 61 other countries. I have been incredibly honored to visit and learn about the diverse array of high-impact entrepreneurship centers & small business incubator programs that InBIA members are running around the world.
Today is a time of rapid transformation as entrepreneurs are leading the way in growing their local economies one startup at a time through small business incubator programs & centers. In the past decade, mobile devices have become ubiquitous, even in the most remote regions of the world. Furthermore, the cost of starting a business has been slashed, thanks to the rise of cloud computing, vast amounts of online storage, and access to a dizzying array of digital tools and mobile apps. Access to mobile devices, information and new markets has enabled entrepreneurs to enter into the global marketplace at a fraction of the cost it would have taken even five years ago.
While technology “unicorns” out of Silicon Valley and Boston have captivated media attention, most new job creation and regional wealth generation are coming from small business incubator programs and growth companies most of us have never heard of. InBIA members serve startups and growth companies in every industry, geographic region and founder demographic. Many InBIA member portfolio companies are quietly solving urgent problems in accessing basic resources (energy, water, food), healthcare and education. Others are successful retailers, tech startups, food truck owners, manufacturers and service providers. They are thriving in rural and urban areas, and in developing countries. I wish I could give a shout out to every one of the 60,000+ companies with which InBIA members work every day – most are founded by unsung heroes who should be recognized as essential to the engine of sustainable global economic growth.
Around the world, InBIA’s brand has a reputation as the leading global organization for small business incubator programs. Due to this recognition as a thought leader in entrepreneurship, InBIA’s membership has expanded over time to include policymakers, university leaders and economic development stakeholders who understand the critical economic impact entrepreneurs are making around the world. Because of our expanding membership, we changed our name last year to the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA). This name reflects our global network of ecosystem builders who are dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation as the foundation for building great communities.
I am excited to share some new InBIA programs and services we are launching over the next few months. First, InBIA has been funded by the U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA) to assess the impact of small business incubator programs, entrepreneurship centers, accelerators, coworking spaces and university programs have on their regional ecosystems. The resulting dataset will be called the IMPACT Index, and will provide critical benchmarking data that entrepreneurship centers and economic development leaders can use to evaluate the impact entrepreneurship programs are providing to their local ecosystems.
We are also expanding our Soft Landings network, which currently consists of 31 entrepreneurship centers that have earned InBIA’s rigorous Soft Landings designation. In April, we launched the InBIA Global Connectors program, providing opportunities for cohorts of InBIA member companies to enter into foreign markets. The companies will be competitively selected, and then InBIA Soft Landing -designated centers located in key foreign markets will host and mentor the startups to help them expand into international markets.
These are just two of many exciting new programs, services and publications InBIA is launching to serve our members and the global entrepreneurial community. Over the next few months, we will be updating our website and member outreach communications with details about upcoming new programs, expanded membership benefits and our updated brand.
Please keep an eye out for new program announcements, which we’ll be sharing via email. If you’re interested in hearing more about our new offerings, please contact our Director of Marketing, Jessica Korthuis, at [email protected] to be added to our email distribution list.
We look forward to showcasing the many new programs and services we have in the works to serve InBIA members and to support the global entrepreneurial community. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or to collaborate on new ideas for paving the way for entrepreneurs to build great companies across the globe.