Better Incubation is a project by LIAISE

Better Incubation | Toolkit

About this Toolkit

This Toolkit is a comprehensive collection of handson tools and methodologies for business support organisations aiming to make their incubation and other business support programmes more inclusive and accessible. The Toolkit is based on the experience and exchange among members of the Communities of Practice of the Better Incubation initiative.

It invites managers and contributors to incubation and other business support services to an honest analysis of their practices and gives them tools to go beyond the usual suspects as participants in their programmes.

Being based on the experiences of the inclusive pilot programmes run within the Better Incubation framework, it is not an exhaustive list but offers itself as a starting point for all business support organisations to go beyond the status quo, i.e., mainstream entrepreneurship. This pilot has been running in many European countries: Spain, Portugal, United Kindom, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italt, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.

How to use the Toolkit

The Toolkit is organised in line with the common steps of designing and running a business support
programme. You can easily navigate these different steps below and jump directly to where you are at, or you can read from beginning to end to get a better grasp of the many facets and perspectives when it comes to inclusion and accessibility in incubation and business support. For each step, different tools are listed and you can pick out what best fits your reality.

Speaking of the steps of designing and implementing a business support programme: one important suggestion this Toolkit makes is to add step 2: Removing barriers to processes of developing and running business support programmes. Transforming your spaces and offerings to be more inclusive is not a one-time moment. It needs to happen throughout the programme cycle. However, having accessibility as a step just like “designing the programme” or “selecting participants” highlights the importance of gaining awareness about barriers that people may face in accessing programmes. This approach resonates with a wider mission of the Better Incubation project of placing incubators as catalysts in the entrepreneurship ecosystems and thus allowing them to go beyond their intermediary role.

The 5 Groups in Focus


The European business and entrepreneurship ecosystem is far from being diverse and inclusive. According to the OECD report , women were half as likely as men to be self-employed , while the share of women who started their own business only increased by 2%. This gap can be explained by deep structural imbalances against female business founders, such as lack of access to finance, low opportunity perception regarding entrepreneurship among women, lack of role models or competing demands on time, with a double burden on home and work responsibilities for women.

Migrants and Refugees

In 2020, the number of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe increased to an unprecedented 23 million . Entrepreneurship therefore represents a great opportunity for refugees and other migrants to rebuild their lives and contribute to the economy and society in their new home country. Relevant business support services can help address these challenges, but it needs to be accompanied by a change of mindset in the sector to better reflect on the real needs of migrant entrepreneurs.


Youth unemployment represents one of the major social and economic challenges in Europe, with more than 16.5% of them being unemployed in 2018 . In response to the challenges the youth encounters when searching for jobs, entrepreneurship offers an alternative pathway to economic self-sufficiency. Critical success conditions can be provided by training and incubation programmes targeted at the youth to nurture their entrepreneurial attitudes and skills.


With the ongoing demographic change and the ageing population in Europe, supporting entrepreneurial skills and becoming self-employed could be considered as innovative ways for middle-aged group workers to continue their professional activity . These include difficulties with mastering digital skills, health issues or social isolation. These demographic changes also affect business incubation support services because a new growing client group is emerging.

People with disabilities

The complexity of this group stems from the fact that disabilities are extremely diverse and are not fixed characteristic of individuals . People with disabilities face many barriers in the labour market, and employer discrimination is frequently reported.

Tools for…

  1. Desinging inclusive support programmes
    1. Empathy interviews
    2. Co-creation with organisations in the field
    3. Personas
    4. Flexible modular design
  2. Removing barriers
    1. Analyse application data
    2. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
    3. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Training
  3. Scouting for and selecting diverse participants
    1. Community Mapping
    2. Channels Mapping
    3. Equity-informed selection
  4. Delivering the right programme support
    1. Needs assessement
    2. Business model basics
    3. Safer space
    4. Onion principle and confidence building
  5. Connecting participans to supportive people
    1. Intentional mentor matching
    2. Purposeful hosting
    3. Peer-to-peer support
  6. Facilitating access to capital
    1. Map funding possibilities
    2. Pitch training
    3. Offer funding
  7. Manageing impact
    1. Impact mesurement platform
    2. Exit interviews with participants
    3. Competence framework


You can find more informaton HERE


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