In part one of our series, we introduced the idea of academic incubators. Today, we want to talk about three considerations to make when designing an academic incubator and two common misconceptions. We also have one successful example to share from the U.K.
Three design considerations
First, consider that a wide range of individuals will be using this space. Therefore, you’re going to need more than just tables and chairs. Practical laboratories, meeting spaces, and access to business mentors are all things that should be included in your facility.
The last item in that list, access to business mentors, might sound vague at first. But our second design consideration takes a cue from co-working spaces. Often, co-working spaces are occupied by remote employees or those who travel frequently. The design considerations applied to a co-working environment would also apply here. Ergonomics and shared desk spaces generate synergy, as like-minded, successful individuals work alongside each other. Likewise, college students and graduates can develop their business plans while learning from experts in an academic incubator.
The third design consideration applies to any office space. Lighting and color choices should reflect the atmosphere. You’re unlikely to satisfy any recruitment quotas if your academic incubator is tucked away in an unused building. Start from the ground up, making use of natural light to energize those using the facility. Wall and furniture colors should ignite the creative flame conducive to entrepreneurship.
Two easy misconceptions
The first and most critical misconception is that these are simply large study areas. Academic incubators are meant to be where garage tinkering and ingenuity meets practical application with a solid business foundation. These spaces need to allow businesses and student-entrepreneurs to connect and develop ideas.
However, these aren’t Shark Tank styled centers either. While they are used for both recruiting and finding the next big idea, they should be more accommodating to the needs of students and business leaders who will be visiting.
The second misconception is that what is true today will be true five years from now. What are we saying? Your design should be adaptable and capable of change. Your academic incubator isn’t just another amenity to be built and forgotten about. Rather, it should be a place regularly revisited and revised. In the same way that those who use the space will be looking to adapt to the working world, the space where they learn these skills should be flexible.
A quick case study
The University of East London has a space they’ve named the Knowledge Dock. This space encourages collaboration between the university community and the 75 businesses that have taken up residence in their complex.
One testimonial on their website highlights the ability to support London businesses. They also offer event hosting, workshops, and library resources for students and business owners alike. And they provide tours, which is a great way to showcase their community support and commitment to making the region an innovation leader.
We understand that it can take time and a great deal of planning to bring an idea so grand to reality. That’s why we’re here to help. One of our designers can meet with you to develop your plan for success. Contact us today and we’ll help your higher education institution stand out from the rest with (quite possibly your region’s first) academic incubator!