Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center Stanford University


Policy and Practice in Japan’s New Business Incubation Revolution: a Typology of Incubation Management and Emerging Hybrid Model

Working Paper

Kathryn Ibata-Arens - Associate Professor at Department of Political Science, DePaul University


Since 2000, Japan has undergone a revolution in new business incubation, investing in national capacity and building hundreds of incubation facilities. This paper contextualizes developments in Japan within international trends, while identifying model incubator types. A typology of incubation management styles is proposed, contextualized within practices in the U.S. and Europe. The paper is based on an original database constructed of all incubators operating in Japan, in addition to survey and interviews with incubator managers and tenant firms. Several findings are evident. Incubation management style and incubation managers (IM) play an important role in supporting start-ups, and the nature of IM resource networks is crucial. Through a review of key policy history in Japan, policy lessons for national, regional and university level practitioners are identified. Case studies examine comparative best practices stimulating university-based new business start-ups in emerging sectors. A hybrid (university-private sector, training-network support) incubation management model has emerged in Japan, one that cultivates a bamboo network root system, supporting an innovative ecosystem for start-ups.

About the Author

Kathryn Ibata-Arens, PhD is Associate Professor at Department of Political Science, DePaul University, Chicago. She is currently a visiting scholar at the Research Institute for Economy Trade and Industry (RIETI) and visiting researcher in the Graduate School of Management, Ritsumeikan University, Japan. Ibata-Arens specializes in international and comparative political economy, entrepreneurship policy, high technology policy and Japanese political economy.