In the rough landscape of entrepreneurship, startups often face a daunting uphill climb to success. Much like the life-saving medical incubators used to care for premature babies, an incubator for startups equips early-stage companies with the necessary skills to thrive in a competitive business world.
Text: Anne-Marie Korsberg Stokke, Oslotech AS
Foto: Oslotech AS
In the business world, an incubator is a specialized program or space that offers resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities for selected startups.
Industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs are often involved in guiding the startups through workshops, one-on-one sessions, and networking events, helping them to refine their business model, identify target markets, and develop viable strategies. The industry partners get access to innovation and investment opportunities in return.
Incubators typically operate on a fixed-term basis, providing a structured and time-bound program that ranges from a few months to a year. During this period, the startups become part of a vibrant community, often sharing a co-working space with other like-minded entrepreneurs.
“Startuplab is an incubator and early-stage investor for Norway's most ambitious technology startups. We offer a community here at Oslo Science Park where entrepreneurs can meet and learn from each other,” says Per-Einar Dybvig, CEO of Startuplab.
Social events, such as Ping Pong tournaments, are also a part of incubator life.
Startuplab has approximately 90 companies in its portfolio in Oslo and has partnered with more than 20 industrial partners such as DNV, Telenor, DNB, Equinor, and OBOS. Startuplab admits around 50 new companies per year in six different industry programs.
“We are proud to be able to document international success for many of the companies we have assisted,” says Dybvig.
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Covering all industries
In addition to Startuplab, you will find two sector-specific incubators at Oslo Science Park; Aleap and ShareLab.
The health incubator Aleap currently hosts around 50 startups in the fields of health and medtech, with a nationwide network for these types of companies.
Aleap was established in the Oslo Science Park in 2016, initiated by Inven2, Oslotech, and Norway Health Tech.
"What we do is unique in a Nordic and international context. Most incubators specialize in one or two sub-categories within the health sector, such as pharmacology, diagnostics, or digital health. At Aleap we want the full range of healthcare companies. We see the synergy across different areas, and those working, for example, on diagnostics benefit greatly from being able to collaborate with digital health solutions, and vice versa," says Erling Nordbø, CEO of Aleap.
Curious about what goes on inside Oslo Science Park? Come to Open Park on August 24 to learn more.
Lab for hire
ShareLab, now occupying two floors at Oslo Science Park, is an incubator for approximately 25 biotech startups. In addition, they provide advanced laboratory facilities that can be rented out as individual workspaces or complete working environments.
ShareLab offers a co-working space, a fully equipped lab, lab management services, commercial and scientific networks, and coaching.
“When we started, our hypothesis was that the main reason so few biotech startups are established - and succeed - is due to a lack of a laboratory. Building a lab is expensive, operating it is costly, and you need the expertise to manage it," says Nilssen.
The 24 workspaces in the lab are fully occupied, and the demand has been so high that the incubator expanded in 2022. In addition to the large lab, there are now six so-called lab suites, equipped with all necessary equipment.
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In a world where over 90% of startups fail, the nurturing environment of an incubator can make all the difference. By providing guidance, resources, and a supportive community, incubators help startups take confident strides toward growth and success.
“Half of the value the companies take with them when they leave Aleap comes from advisors and networks, and the other half comes from what they have learned from the other companies,” says Erling Nordbø at Aleap.