It is widely hoped, around the world, that a start-up environment can be created with a group of talented people, office space, production facilities and funding. There are several thousand of such entities everywhere with tens of thousands of participants. Good studies of their effectiveness is hard to find, if it exists at all.
I’ve seen five or six of these, up close. I’ve seen a few small businesses develop out of them. Very few. I’ve seen people connected because of these clusters; but I don’t know what would have happened in their absence.
Everyone seems to love this model of business start-ups. My own experience is that there are many possible outcomes, mostly unrelated.
Many funders use these to start businesses in fields they know are already successful. That works.
Many talented people use these as a way to meet people, get access to equipment and technology. This works. But again what would have happened in their absence. The hundreds of business people I know would have made it anyway.
The similar operation I started in Sweden was based on finding interested people, getting them together in accounting classes, keeping them in cohorts for several years with constant mentor support. 4,000 businesses came out of that.
That was based on my experience starting the Briarpatch which ultimately generated thousands of American businesses.
The reason any of this works is because people who are open and cooperative get to work together and get the modest skills of business: accounting, record keeping and a supportive cohort.
The general environment for small business to thrive are: a social acceptance of business failure, a support for meritocracy, a diverse and honest group of people cooperating and lack of regulations or of enforcement of regulations. Those conditions don't exist in most of the world.
Given that groundwork, accelerators, incubators and hothouses are only frosting on the cake.