Incubator FAQs

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WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO BECOME AN INCUBATOR CLIENT?Ann Arbor SPARK Central Business Incubator

Any company that meets SPARK’s criteria will be considered. The business incubators each have their own criteria.  Applicants must either:

  1. Be an innovation start-up company or
  2. Be a company whose technology is applicable to healthcare, life sciences, biotechnology or a related field

In either case, businesses must be focused on commercialization and the idea or technology should have defensible value (e.g., a patent, trade secret, copyright, know-how, etc.) or the potential to obtain it.

Other basic criteria include:

  1. Commercialization Timing: Within 1-2 years of sustainable commercial revenues OR significant investment.
  2. Technology: Innovation start-up companies, with a technology strategy that creates defensible value (such as through patents, trade secrets, copyrights, know-how) and is focused on commercial application.
  3. Plan: Business plan which addresses potential markets and size of market, growth potential, financial proformas, personnel growth and acquisition, and exit strategies.
  4. Management: Technical expertise in the field, with a plan to acquire qualified resources in employee, market, and financial management.
  5. Operations: The candidate company must fit within the operational model of the specific facility (space requirements, license fees, equipment/facility requirements, etc.)


HOW ARE INCUBATOR CLIENTS SELECTED?

Applications are reviewed by SPARK management on a case-by-case basis, even if space is not currently available. SPARK may recommend other suitable locations if no space is available in the incubators, or if an application is not accepted.


HOW LONG CAN MY COMPANY REMAIN IN THE INCUBATOR?

The goal of the SPARK Regional Incubator Network is to support companies in a way that will enable the business to graduate from the incubator in two to three years. For this reason, clients begin with a standard, one-year lease. If the business meets their desired milestones, the lease is renewable for one or two additional one-year leases.


WHAT KINDS OF MILESTONES AM I REQUIRED TO MEET?

Incubator companies are required to set milestones that are agreeable to the business and to SPARK. These milestones may include benchmarks for product development, funding and customer acquisition. The SPARK entrepreneurial services team will review the progress toward these milestones with the business every three months at a minimum and 60 days prior to the lease renewal date.


WHAT HAPPENS IF MY COMPANY OUTGROWS THE INCUBATOR OR IS READY TO GRADUATE?

If the business outgrows or graduates from the incubator, the SPARK team will assist the company in locating a new space, either within the SPARK Regional Incubator Network or at another appropriate site. If the business meets the graduation criteria ahead of schedule, it may be able to terminate the current lease without penalty, at the discretion of SPARK management.


WHAT ARE THE GRADUATION CRITERIA?

Over the course of the first year of tenancy, the business will work with SPARK to develop a set of graduation criteria based on the current business plan, growth projections and milestones. Twice a year, the company will review these criteria with the SPARK entrepreneurial services team to determine progress.


HOW DO I APPLY?

Complete and submit the Business Idea Submission form.


HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

To learn more about the SPARK Regional Incubator Network or to begin the application process, please contact Ben Harrington, or review a copy of our Incubator Handbook.

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