Seedcamp, Techstars and Wayra are just a few of the business incubators that have sprung up recent years, and that’s just in London. These business and startup incubator programs are designed to offer workspace, mentoring and often investment to early-stage companies, presenting an excellent opportunity to ambitious entrepreneurs. There are a wide range of business incubators in the UK catering to startups and more developed companies across a variety of different sectors.
Think of incubators as office space with additional perks and a focus on entrepreneurial community. There are broadly two types of incubator, private incubators run by businesses renting office space as their primary business model. Then there’s the second type which is typically free or subsided and operated by a government agency or university to support start-ups and business growth in a particular region.
List of business incubators for startups
Below you will find a list of business incubators who cater for many different stages of businesses but typically with a focus on early stage to mid-stage companies.
Google Campus in London is a well-known hub for tech entrepreneurs in London. The cafe is a famous meeting point, the events space is well known for quality, and of course, the broadband is second to none. They also run a range of educational workshops and events for entrepreneurs! As a meeting point, events space or for being based there, the campus has a vast amount of benefits for entrepreneurs in London.
Level39 is arguably the most significant incubation space for fintech, retail, cybersecurity and the smart-city technology companies in London and possibly even the United Kingdom. Based in the heart of Canary Wharf one of the financial epicentres of London, Level 39 offers access to innovative amenities and run a range of fantastic and well know networking events. To even rent space or become a member of the incubator the application process is rigorous; this means if lucky you will also be around an elite network of fellow entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders.
White Bear Yard
White Bear Yard is one of London’s best kept entrepreneurial secrets; it houses some of London’s significant startups including AngelList and Tide. It also houses one of the UK’s most prolific and respected early-stage investors, Passion Capital. They have office hours, a range of events and always a lot going on. The monthly desk price includes super fast WiFi, shower rooms, full kitchen, free lunch once a month and much more.
One of the more recently started business incubation centres IDEALondon is owned and managed by University College London. The centre is not limited to purely students/graduates but is open to all London based or planning to be London based early stage digital technology ventures.
There is also a range of investors based at IDEALondon as well as government schemes such as Capital Enterprise. The centre is a hub for some of London’s most innovative companies and provides all the standard amenities and a great community.
Advanced Technology Innovation Centre (ATIC)
The Advanced Technology Innovation Centre (ATIC) provides a business incubator programme based at Loughborough University. The programme is part offers flexible terms or renting space, café facilities, bike storage, electric car charging, meeting rooms and more, its aimed at new deeptech businesses and those looking to scale.
Built in 1992, the Cardiff Medicentre is situated in East Wale. This business incubator focuses on providing lab and office facilities for health and wellbeing, life science and biotech companies. Aside from specialist medical services and labs, they offer a range of support in the form of funding advice, networking and access to further expertise. The incubator is run an economic development project by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board in partnership with Cardiff University.
Location: Cardiff, South East Wales
London BioScience Innovation Centre (LBIC)
Based in London and managed by the Royal Veterinary College the London BioScience Innovation Centre (LBIC) was initiated in 2001. The incubator provides life sciences companies with state of the art lab facilities, office space and much more.
The Hive is a well-regarded midland business incubator run by the Nottingham Trent University with an 80% survival rate of businesses up to 3 years after incubation. The incubator provides a range of solutions and services to start-ups including workspace, meetings rooms, mentoring and more.
The incubator has been one of the premier choices for startups and early-stage businesses in the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire areas since it was founded in 2001.
European Marine Science Park
The European Marine Science Park since 2005 has been dedicated to providing service to early, mid and late stage marine science companies. The incubator is based in a remote area of the highlands and offers fantastic access to untouched nature and ocean environments. They are also open to life science, energy and environmental companies.
The incubation programme offers workspaces, lab space, direct funding from the park as well as mentorship coupled with legal and financial support. The programme also enjoys significant links into academia, research institutions and policy makers in governments, beneficial to any company.
Institute of Life Science Incubator
Based in Swansea, the Institute of Life Science Incubator is a business incubator with the aim of supporting advances in medical science to improve hum health by incubating life sciences companies. The incubator can provide access to lab spaces, experts and working space with a competitive package for any business.
Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT)
Founded in 2008, the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) is a startup and business accelerator for new ventures developing solutions and technologies in the cybersecurity space. The incubator is run by Queens University of Belfast and available for cybersecurity startups and companies in the Northern Ireland area.
They can offer start-ups a range of support including mentoring, technology/development support, investment training and more.
3M Buckley Innovation Centre (3MBIC)
The 3M Buckley Innovation Centre (3MBIC) is a University of Huddersfield run business incubator offering support to businesses in the Leeds City area. The incubator boasts fantastic scientific facilities including laboratory space with all the typical incubator support/amenities. The facility is a purpose-built innovation centre to encourage business growth and collocation between startups / SME’s and academia.
London Cleantech Cluster
A clean energy incubator founded in 2012, London Cleantech Cluster specialises in supporting renewable and clean energy businesses and technology development. The cluster brings together many cleantech initiatives in London and will provide cleantech businesses with access to mentors, office and a like-minded community for entrepreneurs building sustainable energy production alternatives.
Founded in 2013, the Evolve Derby is an incubation program run by the University of Derby and based in the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire area.The incubator offers a range of services to startups including office / Workspace, Seminars / Workshops, Mentoring
The University of Derby’s business support and incubation service are here to give you the best possible chance of success, helping you access all the support you need to establish and grow your business, wherever you are located
As an incubator for B2B companies, Seedcloud is has been based in London since 2012. They provide a range of support to startups particular focusing on creating a clear roadmap for entrepreneurs, building formidable go-to-market strategies and in finding suitable seed investors. All the standard facilities are included such as office space, accountancy support and legal advice from partners.
The Innovation Factory is based in Northern Ireland and provides flexible office space alongside business incubation services including mentorship, networking and more. They also have a range of flexible spaces for co-working, shared working and meetings/events alongside virtual address services. The incubator is suitable for all types of SME.
Founded in 2017, Seed Haus is to be found in Eastern Scotland, more specifically Edinburgh. The incubator provides a range of facilities and services including mentorship, seminars, investment advice, network access, startups events as well as legal and accountancy support through partners.
The Seed Haus team look for startups who are solving significant problems and benefit from their expertise.
Newcastle Bio Incubator
Started by the University of Newcastle in 2016, the Newcastle Bio Incubator is located in the medical school within the university, offering incubator spaces for companies between 2 – 5 people. There explicitly looking for early-stage companies with some traction in the life science/ health arenas and can provide laboratory and research space alongside usual office facilities/
Imperial College White City Incubator
The Imperial College White City Incubator is an incubator program run by the Imperial College London. It offers incubation facilities for startups involved in deeptech, life sciences, engineering and manufacturing. Alongside workspace they can provide a range of virtual office services.
Founded in 2010, the MedTech Incubator specialises in incubating businesses developing digital technologies that could be used by the NHS to improve patient care. The incubator is based in Manchester Science Park and can provide medtech businesses with workspace, networking and access to state of the art design and manufacturing facilities.
An incubator for new startups and existing small companies wishing to grow, Techtopia provides serviced office space, investor access and many other amenities to technology-based SME’s. They also boast having a network of successful entrepreneurs who form the basis of their office community.
Centre for Nanohealth Incubator
Founded by the Swansea University in 2014, the Centre for Nanohealth Incubator provides a range of services and amenities to life science companies developing the latest nanotechnology. These services include access to nanotech experts, legal and accountancy advice, lab space and office space. The centre has been designed as a state of the art nanotechnology facility through the award of a £22 million government investment.
Cloud Innovation Centre
The Cloud Innovation Centre is a joint initiative from The initiative Cloud Innovation Centre (CIC), Newcastle University Digital Institute and Newcastle City council. As an incubator, the centre focuses on providing space and support for digital technology businesses, particularly those who are developing cloud technologies or technology in big data analytics. They are looking for early-stage startups and offer access to experts, networks and technology events alongside office space.
First built in 2016, the Nest is incubator run by the University of Portsmouth, its available to current students and students who have graduated in the last five years. The incubator is for very early stage businesses in many ideas supporting entrepreneurs from business idea to business creation. The Nest also provide classes on raising investment, running a business and more.
Rain cloud is a specialist accelerator for supporting startups who are working to create and build the next generation of civtech startups (technology that improves the lives of citizens). The incubator is based in London Victoria and provides access to office space and mentorship.
Created in 2000, the Tetricus Incubator is an incubation program run by the Porton Science Park. They focus on incubating life science companies and have a sophisticated network in place ideal for any new or growing biotech business to utilise in developing further. The incubator can provide both lab and office space and is already home to a high number of biotech businesses.
Tech Hub is a well-known office provider and innovation space across the world, particularly in the UK and Europe. Founded by the editor of Tech Crunch and other co-founders, Tech Hub has become a significant provider of network/ events space and much more for tech startups.
Location: London and Swansea
They also made our office list, but we thought it was essential to include Innovation Warehouse here again due to the sheer amount of services they provide. Based in the old fish market in Central London, IW as well as providing office space offers access to a sophisticated Angel Network. They also have a great event space and have Accelerator Academy, Capital Enterprise and City of London as partners among others.
Started by James Layfield, a well-known British entrepreneur, Central Working is a popular entrepreneurial co-working and innovation space in the United Kingdom. CW work on a club model that’s focused on building a mix of events and excellent space/ environment. They also guarantee a vast experience in the first 30 days or else; you get your money back!
Location: London and Manchester (4 locations)
Wenta the overall company runs six incubators across the UK; they run a range of events, training/ educational seminars and much more. If you meet specific requirements, you may get three months for free.
Location: Bedford, Luton, Potters Bar, Stevenage, Watford and Ware
Impact Hub, particularly in London, is well known for being an excellent space for freelancers and small businesses/ tech startups. They run tours at 3 pm every Tuesday and at 2 pm every Friday for anyone looking to check it out in Westminster.
Location: London and International (Shown on other lists)
Although described as an accelerator, from the more traditional accelerator definition the ICE Accelerator is more an incubator program by Welsh ICE in supporting early-stage technology businesses. There especially looking for companies who want to base themselves in wales but trade beyond Welsh/UK borders. ICE is funded by the Business Wales Growth Programme in conjunction with the European Region Development fund.
The incubator is designed to support companies in the immediate the area but businesses from around Wales. They can provide access to direct funding, mentors and more.
Location: Caerphilly, South East Wales
Entrepreneurs for the future
Entrepreneurs for the future is an incubator that can provide up to 6 months of support for new entrepreneurs and startups in the Birmingham area. Benefits of the startup incubator programme include access to experienced entrepreneurs in residence, development of robust action plans for development and one to one sessions with experts on how to grow your business.
London Business School Incubator
A total support incubation programme for startups run by the London Business School, members can get access to all the universities facilities including office, professional service, research and academic materials. Startups are initiated into the incubator in cohorts of 10, and you will also get given mentoring and further expert support to help progress your business. To be eligible for the London Business School Incubator you must base yourself in London be alumni of the University.
List of startup incubators
The incubators below are entirely focused on supporting businesses who have yet to startup and entrepreneurs who have just started their businesses. The programs typically offer some excellent benefits beyond the usual accelerators perks to new businesses including reduced or free office space and in some cases grants or small direct investment.
Bathtub 2 Boardroom
Established in 2010, Bathtub 2 Boardroom is a not for profit company that provides an excellent incubator space and support program for young entrepreneurs just starting out. Given their objective, there membership/ office space rental fees are meagre compared to typical incubators or co-working spaces in London.
Alongside affordable office space, they can provide you with meeting rooms, networking events, funding advice and a fantastic community of fellow entrepreneurs to engage with.
The codebase is one of the UK’s largest startup incubators and focuses on providing support to more than 100 digital technology companies at any one time. At Codebase, there is a community of diverse technology entrepreneurs all in the early stages of their venture. You can get access to experts with an expansive range of skills as well and serious business and development support.
Founded by the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, since 2016 the Health Foundry has been running as an incubator for start-ups in the health and well-being space. There focused on supporting startups that create or apply digital technology in innovative ways to improve the well-being and health of people. They also provide demo days for fundraising, network access and legal/financial training and support. If you are a healthtech startup this one of the more obvious choices regarding an incubator.
Sussex Innovation Croydon
Started in 2015, Sussex Innovation Croydon is business incubator programme run by the University of Sussex alongside the areas local enterprise partner, Coast to Coast Capital. The incubator provides members/startups with office space, workspace, network access and investment readiness training alongside other financing advice. It is a community for entrepreneurs building out early-stage ventures.
Manchester Incubator Building
Founded in 2005, the Manchester Incubator Building is an incubation program run by the University of Manchester. They tend to focus on incubating startups in the life sciences space, providing a range of services including office space, laboratory space and variety of other infrastructure useful to deeptech companies biotech firms, satellite companies carrying out R&D and even pharma companies looking to develop drugs.
Founded in 2001, Genesis is a business incubation programme run by the Barnsley Business & Innovation Centre and based in the Leeds. Offering a range of services and support to startups, the incubator assists entrepreneurs by providing flexible office space, funding advice, access to angel investors and legal/accountancy support through partners.
The incubators focus is on business development, aiming to accelerate companies who come through predominantly regarding sales, customers and overall commercialisation.
Bright Red Triangle
Established in 2004 by the Edinburgh Napier University, Bright Red Triangle is an incubation program. As a startup incubator, they are offering students and graduates of the University who are starting or want to start their own business access to desk space, advice, access to a like-minded entrepreneurial community and more.
The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Centre
The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Centre is startup incubator operated by the University of Huddersfield. The incubator supports staff, recent graduates and current students of the University in starting and growing their own business in Leeds. You can be starting a company, becoming a freelancer or becoming self-employed in some way to qualify for access to the centre. There also an enterprise team on hand to help you with every aspect of starting or running a business.
Portsmouth Technopole established in 2009 is an epicentre for new businesses in the Solent area. The incubator is run by Portsmouth University and is geared towards startups developing digital technology projects with specifics in fields including energy and environment.
The incubator offers first-rate support to SME’s, including flexible workspace, virtual office services, incubator offices, conference rooms and more.
Created by University College London (UCL) in 2010, UCL BaseKX is a business incubator that supports new startups in the Kings Cross area of London. Aside from office space in central London you can benefit from expert seminars, mentorship, demo days and helps from UCL’s innovation and enterprise team in making your idea into a successful business.
Oxford Startup Incubator
Established in 2011, the Oxford Startup Incubator is managed by the Oxford University Innovation. The incubator focuses on providing support to companies before starting out (typically for eight months before incorporation or less) who have come out Oxford Universities eco-system (staff, students and recent graduates).
The incubator can also provide investment funding, expertise and introductions to investors for technology and digital startups.
City Ventures Launch Lab
First launched in 2013, the City Ventures Launch Lab is an incubation program for graduates and students of City University London, the centre is based in the middle of tech city London. The incubator offers members networking events, training and much more.
From Robert Gordon University and Accelerate Aberdeen, the RGU Incubator is an incubation program providing students and graduates of the University with access to workspace, mentorship and advice to go right through from idea to set up a company to running a successful company or business.
Open Education Challenge
Started in 2014, Open Education Challenge is an incubator for European EdTech startups, developing and delivering the next generation of education technologies and related tech. The incubator was initially started in collaboration with the European Commission and endeavours to bring together education practitioners and innovative entrepreneurs to develop innovative edtech. The incubator can provide space, edtech network access and much more.
Further startup & business incubators
Below you will find a list of more business and startup incubators we have yet to cover in detail; each is listed with an accelerator name, link and location for quick browsing, enjoy!
Surrey Research Park – Guildford
Oxford Centre for Innovation – Oxford
St Johns Innovation Centre – Cambridge
Strathclyde University Incubator – Glasgow
Magdalen Centre – Oxford
Norwich Research Park Accelerator – Norwich
Edinburgh Research and Innovation – Edinburgh
Granta Park – Cambridge
Babraham Bioincubator – Cambridge
Cherwell Innovation Centre – Upper Heyford
Malvern Hills Science Park – Worcester
Roslin BioCentre – Midlothian
Harwell Innovation Centre – Didcot
i-SE – Women’s Enterprise Hub – Birmingham
Scottish Microelectronics Centre – Edinburgh
Bicester Innovation Centre – Bicester
Culham Science Centre – Abingdon
Staffordshire BIC – Stoke on Trent
Sparkhouse – Lincoln
Sussex Innovation Centre – Brighton & Hove
SPARK Business Incubation Centre – Wolverhampton
BRL Technology Business Incubator – Bristol
Culham Innovation Centre – Abingdon
Hub for Innovation and Enterprise – Canterbury
Sci-Tech Daresbury – Warrington
Sheffield Bioincubator – Sheffield
Bridge Innovation Centre – Pembrokeshire
Dundee University Incubator – Dundee
Hayes Business Studios – Hayes
Creative Enterprise – Canterbury
Nucleus Business & Innovation Centre – Dartford
Cornwall Innovation – Cornwall
Enterprise Incubation Centre – Hertfordshire
Ocean Village Innovation Centre – Southampton
Retford Enterprise Centre – Retford
Good Ideas Academy – Edinburgh
Harborough Innovation Centre – Market Harborough
Hethel Innovation – Hethel
Innovation Martlesham Incubator Facility – Ipswich
Mansfield i-Centre – Mansfield
Newark Beacon – Newark
Scott Bader Innovation Centre – Wellingborough
The Studio – Loughborough
Worksop Turbine Innovation Centre – Worksop
Bracknell Enterprise & Innovation Hub – Bracknell
Innovation Programme – Sunderland
Stevenage BioCatalyst – Stevenage
The Nova Centre – Keele
Tremough Innovation Centre – Falmouth
Witney Business & Innovation Centre – Witney
BizzInn Business Incubator – Birmingham
BU Student Incubation Centre (BUSI) – Bournemouth
Haatch – Stamford
Henley Start-up Business Incubator – Reading
Live Lab – Oxford
Stockport Business & Innovation Centre – Stockport
The Enterprise Network – Salisbury
Warwick Ventures Software Incubator – Warwick
Innospace – Manchester
MedBIC – Chelmsford
Momentum Business Incubator – Worcester
NoWFOOD Centre – Chester
One St. Aldates – Oxford
SPACE at Hoo Farm – Kidderminster
UHatch – Glasgow
Digital Exchange – Bradford
Fareham Innovation Centre – Lee on Solent
High Growth Centre – Chester
Ideas Factory Incubation Centre – Norwich
Marine Robotics Innovation Centre Hub – Southampton
Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise – Harpenden
SparkUp – Liverpool
The BioHub Birmingham – Birmingham
The Ingenuity Lab – Nottingham
UBC Leeds Digital Hub – Leeds
WB100 – Sheffield
BioData Innovation Centre – Cambridge
Canopy Exeter – Exeter
Future Space – Bristol
Londoneast – London
North East Space Incubation Programme – Sedgefield
OpTIC Space Industry Incubation Programme – St Asaph
RAU Farm491 – Cirencester
Roslin Innovation Centre – Edinburgh
Serendip – Birmingham
Space Incubator – Loughborough
The Tontine – Glasgow
Ashton Old Baths Innovation Centre – Tameside
Aurora Cambridge – Cambridge
Charnwood Campus – Loughborough
EDUCATE – London
The Spot Hive – Stirling
STEAMHouse – Birmingham
UNIT DX – Bristol
Guildhall Creative Entrepreneurs – London
Types of business incubator
The majority of incubators are open to technology companies, with a smaller amount being open to all businesses. Within the majority there are many incubators for many different types of technology startups, either developing specific products in a field or because the startup is operated in a particular area such as life science, manufacturing or geospatial technology. Typically the best potential incubators for your business will the ones dedicated to startups in a specific area you operate.
What support/benefits can incubators provide?
Most business or startup incubators offer the same base services as the majority of serviced office or co-working spaces you might consider. These services include meeting rooms, workspace, catering, telephone lines, virtual office services and all the usual amenities.
Where incubators tend to differ is through a focus on education and community, typically providing workshops for entrepreneurs across a range of different areas, finding mentors for young business leaders, offering access to investor networks, setting up pitching, organising community entrepreneurial events and more. In essence, your getting a serviced office in a slightly smaller building but with a lot more support from an educational and community point of view which can be significant support in helping you start or grow your company.
What do incubators cost?
Some incubators are entirely free; these are typically grant funded, government-run or both. The majority will charge you for desk/office space as with any regular office provider; some will also provide discounts through to younger business, watch out for these and do your research. The actual cost will depend on the space you want and the location, for example; London incubator rental/membership prices are going to be very different from prices in Swansea.
Startup incubators Vs. Business incubators Vs. Business Accelerators
There’s much confusion usually when it comes to different incubator definitions and even accelerators. So, to clear up that confusion here’s the definitions we have used to sort this list.
Startup incubators – For businesses starting out, in a very early stage or who have yet to set up. These incubators typically provide free or subsidised space to these companies.
Business incubators – For businesses at any stage from early to mid, these tend to specialise in more specific types of companies. These incubators typically charge commercial rates for membership or renting space.
Tech incubator – A business or startup incubator purely focused on technology business; we do not use this term as most incubators focus on technology businesses.
Business Accelerators – A fixed term programme held typically inside a business incubator that will usually provide seed investment and support with the aim of accelerating an early to mid-stage technology business through to the next level of growth, enabling to raise further finance at the end of the acceleration program. If you want to learn more, you can check out our accelerator list.
Advice for entrepreneurs on business incubator programmes
Know what to expect
Before applying to enter a business incubator, hunt around to find the right scheme to suit you, as each has its own unique style. It is a good idea to speak to alumni companies who have been through the process, as these start-ups will be able to share their first-hand experience. Taking this step will ensure you go in with a clear idea of the cost (in equity and time), as well as the benefits that each programme offers your business.
Once you’ve found the programme for you, the hard work really begins. Even before you get into the incubator, you should expect a demanding and competitive pitch where you’ll be up against other equally enthusiastic, ambitious founders. After all that hard work, it is essential that successful applicants put every effort into maximising the experience. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to concentrate on building a genuinely disruptive business with the support and advice of A-grade talent. Approaching this with a half-hearted attitude will be a waste of your time.
Become a people person
One of the biggest benefits of entering an incubator is the fantastic opportunity to gain insights from experts including business mentors, investors and seasoned entrepreneurs. As an early-stage business owner, it may not come naturally to make introductions at every opportunity, but if you don’t make these critical connections, others will. Be confident and push your luck – it might be a long time before you have the opportunity to be in the same room as these people again and if you don’t ask, you don’t get. As well as learning from experienced individuals, you should also embrace every networking opportunity as a chance to seek out your future team. Building a team capable of growing a business is an essential part of your journey. If you can partner with impressive people in the early stages, future customers and investors will be more inclined to pay attention later down the line.
It is also important that you do not ignore the other start-ups within the incubator. You may have been in competition with them when applying for your place, but once you are in, these early-stage entrepreneurs are an asset. Learn from their experiences and mistakes and do not rule out partnering possibilities. Ensuring that you talk to all the right people and make the right impression will require some organisation, so go into this with a plan for managing and categorising your new connections. Pick up contacts, make them your own and keep in touch.
Take the time
Many accelerator programmes are time intensive, so don’t treat them as a part-time activity. Clear your diary of all other commitments and immerse yourself in the environment. After all, the mentors you work with will want to see evidence of real progress and development.
Most applicants will enter the incubator with little more than an idea, so some things may not work out exactly as planned. These programmes are intensive courses designed to rapidly accelerate your business and may involve a radical overhaul of your entire business model, so it is crucial to be flexible and open-minded. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that you are the boss and when all the mentors melt away it will be you who has to drive the new strategy.
Life after the incubator
After the buzz and excitement of months spent with other enthusiastic start-ups, it can be a shock when the time comes to enter the real world. Without the encouragement of mentors, the reality of running a business can be tough, so it is important to build strategies to maintain the same energy.
This is where your connections will come into play. If you have used your time in the incubator effectively, you will be able to call on these for advice and may even already have exciting business propositions planned with them by the time you leave. Incubator programmes certainly give start-ups opportunities that would not otherwise come their way, but they are only effective if you are prepared to work hard. With the right attitude, careful planning and 100% effort, these programmes can be the push your business needs to accelerate to success.