Facilitation of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in an Era of Social Distancing: An Exploratory Study on how the Incubator and Accelerator Environment has Chosen to Repond to COVID-19

Jessica Sofie Nielsen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

It is no secret that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned everything upside down. The rapid spread of the virus has caused an era of social distancing, which has given rise to changes in the way we work and interact. It is unquestionable that the global pandemic has made online the new normal – at least for now. Thus, the business incubator and accelerator environment is no exception. As facilitators of entrepreneurial and innovation activities, the transition from in-person facilitation to online facilitation is likely to cause several implications. Since this is an emerging phenomenon, there is currently no literature that deals with online facilitation of entrepreneurial and innovation activities in the context of incubators and accelerators, nor in the context of COVID-19. Hence, the purpose of this thesis is to contribute to this field by investigating: (1) how the management and teams of incubators and accelerators have chosen to facilitate their activities online; (2) the challenges and barriers they have encountered; and (3) their perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of online facilitation. For this purpose, data has been collected through exploratory semistructured interviews with eight incubators and accelerators located in Denmark. The data was coded, analyzed and interpreted, which made it possible to discover themes and patterns that could elucidate the phenomenon. Findings show that the transition from offline to online facilitation contributes to a higher efficiency and flexibility. However, it also influences central entrepreneurial and innovation activities, and the lack of trust and social interactions limits the potential for successful coaching, networking, and community building. Despite this challenge, the incubators and accelerators revealed a desire to continue with a blended solution. This indicates that online facilitation is not just an event-driven trend, but a possible transformation in the way incubators and accelerators will design and execute their programs in the future.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages188