Next month, the worldwide ranking will be revealed – but iMinds (the Flemish digital research center and business incubator) already made quite a big impression with its second position in the European ranking of 'Top University Business Accelerators'. Moreover, iMinds was asked to explain its incubation approach during a plenary speech for its fellow university business incubators. After its seventh place in the European ranking last year (number 25 worldwide), iMinds thus confirms its leading position in this domain.
Accelerating innovation by fostering collaboration between academic researchers and companies
Business incubators help promising starters become successful companies more quickly – by providing them with professional support (such as workspace, coaching, networking opportunities) and capital. University business incubators – such as iMinds – add to that mix the availability and expertise of their academic researchers.
Each university business incubator has its own shortcomings and merits. In order to create a little order in that chaos, UBI Global evaluates more than 500 of them on a yearly basis – based on a number of strict criteria. For the second year in a row, iMinds’ iStart incubation program was subjected to this screening.
iMinds secures second place in European top-10
Just as in 2014, iMinds' iStart program was awarded a position in the European top-10. It secured the second place in UBI Global's 'Top University Business Accelerators' ranking. And according to the people of UBI Global – who carefully screened the program – that is not a coincidence.
"Even though iStart has only been existing since 2011, it meets all the requirements of a successful university business incubator: the first successful exits have been realized (such as the acquisition of the Flemish start-up POSIOS by the Canadian point-of-sale provider Lightspeed), the program is strongly supported by the local ecosystem (which translates into a rapidly increasing number of requests for support and a growing number of partners), and it features a strong methodology to link iMinds researchers to promising start-ups," says Ali Amin, CEO and Co-Founder of UBI Global.
"As a matter of fact, we thought the iMinds case was so interesting that we asked them to present their incubation approach to their fellow incubators during the plenary part of our two-day conference," he adds.
One of the keys to the iMinds success: its unique 'Flipped Knowledge Transfer' methodology
According to iMinds, the success of iStart is due primarily to the unique 'Flipped Knowledge Transfer' methodology which iMinds has built into its daily operations. It really turns the traditional academic research model upside down – with research being directly inspired by the business and technology challenges of (starting) entrepreneurs.
A good example is the cooperation between iMinds and Ontoforce – a Flemish start-up boosting pharmaceutical research through its semantic web technology. What started in 2011 as an Ontoforce feasibility study, resulted in the sophistication of Ontoforce’s semantic web technology by researchers from iMinds - Data Science Lab - Ghent University, a licensing agreement and a bilateral research project that is still ongoing today.
"Start-ups are extremely important for achieving economic growth, but they often lack the research capacity that is needed to really make a difference. iMinds’ Flipped Knowledge Transfer methodology makes its easier for them to work with university researchers. It is a collaboration that is driven by the entrepreneurs. As such, we give them the (extra) research capacity they require to translate their ideas into innovative products that enable them to conquer the market," says Danny Goderis, iMinds’ Acting CEO.