Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Industry and Higher Education


Start-up incubators are one of a number of micropolicy interventions used by states to support their technology entrepreneurs. Since 2000, the number of incubators in the United States has almost trebled while that in Europe has more than doubled. This article outlines the challenges involved in attempting to evaluate the contribution of the higher education technology start-up incubator process. It advocates theory-based evaluation (TBE) methodology as a possible solution for effective evaluation (and policy learning) in complex research settings such as this, where a study is unable, for myriad reasons, to meet the stringent requirements of experimental research design. TBE delivers findings on the contribution of the multiple factors influencing a result, thus showing whether the incubation process made a contribution to an observed result and in what way. An exploratory case study is used in this article to illustrate how the proposed TBE approach could work.