Business incubators: Helping Boise businesses thrive

boise business incubator

Got a great business idea? With a number of business incubators ready to help, Boise is the perfect place to bring those ambitions to fruition.

A business incubator can be described as a set of programs set up by a government, business alliance or academic group though a variety of services/training. The intent is to help small companies in the incubator have a better chance of survival through the start-up phase.  


Services may include but not be limited to:

  • Office space: Usually at a reduced rate.

  • Office services: Receptionist, conference rooms, computers, office equipment etc.

  • Entrepreneurial advice and mentoring: Entrepreneur advisor services can range from establishing a web presence to identifying IP licensing opportunities to raising capital.

  • Business Planning and market adjustment consulting: Business plans are dynamic and constantly need to be adjusted to fit the market.

  • Contacts and Networking: The biggest advantage of a business incubator is its access to experienced entrepreneurs, innovators and professionals who can answer questions, provide guidance and resources.

Many entrepreneurs often wonder if a more experienced competitor will beat them to the punch or have an advantage. A lack of experience can be the difference between success and failure if left unattended at the critical early development stage, when a step in the wrong direction can cost precious time and money.

New ventures face challenging odds for survival. Gaining acceptance into a business incubator can increase your potential success rate from 44% to a whopping 87%! Improving your odds for success is a number one goal for any early-stage development company.

Business incubation programs are often sponsored by private companies or municipal entities and public institutions, such as colleges and universities. Their goal is to help create and grow young businesses by providing them with necessary support and financial and technical services. There are approximately 900 business incubators nationwide, according to the National Business Incubation Association.

There are at least five business incubators and/or accelerators in the Treasure Valley; business accelerators generally share some of the characteristics of incubators, offering professional advice and guidance to startups. However, the incubation period is very short and intense. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, accelerators have a goal to turn business ideas into prototypes or products ready for market in a matter of months. Sponsors provide initial funding and expertise to those who  demonstrate a great product idea. In return, the sponsors may take a small equity stake in the new business.

Boise State’s Technology and Entrepreneurial Center has been around for more than 8 years and has given direct support to more than 150 companies. It is dedicated to the development, growth and success of technology companies, offering start-up and early stage technology company entrepreneurs the expertise, networks and tools they need to succeed.

The Greenhouse is located in the heart of downtown Boise. While all early-stage companies are eligible for the Greenhouse, preference is given to companies that are focused on alternative or renewable energy - including solar, wind, geothermal, conservation or another energy source. 

Smart and trendy computer geeks, take a look at Nebula Shift. They are a business accelerator also located in downtown Boise and assist entrepreneurs’ interest in technology (primarily web software). For a small stake in your business they provide capital, business knowledge, experience, business contract and infrastructure support, marketing and sales training and business seminars – just to name a few! You can email them at .

If you’re a foodie, you may want to check out the The University of Idaho’s Food Technology Center in Caldwell. Their mission is to provide a multi-use facility where individuals and food companies can receive comprehensive business, technical and educational assistance to develop or improve their food business. Their training and facility can be geared toward both the very beginner and those further along in their business venture. A portion of the facility is available for rent to individuals or companies that wish to produce their own specialty foods in a certified commercial kitchen.

The Ground Floor is a new incubator in Meridian and offers the advantages of larger office amenities at a fraction of the cost. They provide first-class flexible workspace & access to first-rate technology, conference rooms, business seminars & networking.

The WaterCooler, targeting creative and innovative companies, was started at 14th and Idaho streets by BoDo developer Mark Rivers in 2008. They have 7,500 square feet of offices, meeting rooms, cubicles, and event space and provide their residents with a home that encourages collaboration and offers mentoring, community engagement, growth, and success. As a community-based non-profit, they welcome involvement and support! 

Since not all business incubators are alike, if you have a specialized idea for a business, try to find the incubator that best suits your requirements. If you're interested in finding an incubator visit the National Business Incubation Association's website, or get in touch with your local economic development agency.

If an incubation program seems interesting to you, be prepared to submit a business plan for review by a screening committee who will determine whether or not you meet their criteria for admission. Incubators carefully screen potential businesses because their space, equipment, and finances are limited, and they want to be sure they're choosing to nurture businesses with the best possible chance for success.

With all this help available at your fingertips, you have no excuse not to go out there and make that dream a reality.