Concept

The SymCubator is / will be an open non-for-profit incubator and university for collaboration, innovation, learning and solidarity focused ventures. hereafter called SymVentures. Such symVentures can for instance include collaborative research and innovation projects in the Horizon 2020 programme (or simply their initiation); networks for innovation procurement and / or innovation assessment; think-tanks; commercial start-ups; scientific networks of excellence; humanitarian undertakings; cultural initiatives; projects of social entrepreneurs; etc.

The SymCubator’s reason of being is to provide incubation support, at both the levels of motivated individuals and of sponsoring organisations, as well the interaction between these levels. The SymCubator will:

  • be an open non-for-profit noble cause-centred and value driven meeting place and infrastructure to support the emergence and implementation of collaborations, exchanges and educational material outside of the structures and constraints of organisations
  • be driven by volunteering and facilitate both entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship in the largest sense
  • be a partner and a leader of collaborative research and innovation undertakings, especially publicly funded ones, where a coordinator does not naturally emerge
  • provide, when necessary, a legal entity to allow a venture to bootstrap and raise funding (public funding, venture capital, crowd funding etc.) until it can operate on its own

The SymCubator will

  • help to stimulate collaborative idea development and learning, by connecting and supporting the collaboration of motivated and competent people, often creating synergies across different fields of expertise
  • cover both non-profit and profit undertakings (however the SymCubator itself will reinvest potential profits in new ICES)
  • support all forms of collaborative entrepreneurship, and so help to make “my” idea become “our” idea
  • provide a common SymCubator Charter, stating the vision and philosophy of the SymCubator and specifying the duties and rights of its members, including the governance structure
  • issue a SymCubator label, which will provide credibility (as the SymCubator takes up and develops its own visibility)
  • constitute a community based on shared values, volunteering and co-entrepreneurship
  • be structured into SymVentures of teams, associated or not with organisations, cooperating on specific ventures and connecting and exchanging between themselves
  • have as virtual backbone an online community management platform, which allows each symVenture to collaborate effectively between incubating members and with third party “outside” stakeholders
  • provide a range of resources and services to symVentures through selected partners (e.g. for subsidies, venture capital, legal advice, political support etc.)

To co-incubate selected symVentures, participants must be intrinsically motivated to participate. They can have one of three roles in a SymVenture: (co-)lead (responsible of the symVenture), contributor (committing to providing results and / or capabilities during a period of time) and supporter (no commitment other than interest and goodwill). All participants in SymVentures must first adhere to the SymCubator Charter and thus become members of the SymCubator Community. Participants, who are bound by an employment contract with an organisation must obtain an authorisation by their employers, depending on the venture they can be paid or not by their employer and / or the SymCubator. The SymCubator Executive Board will select the symVentures that will be hosted and supported by the SymCubator, based on criteria reflecting the purpose of the SymCubator and in accordance with the SymCubator Charter.

Organisations, which want to partner with the SymCubator and / or sponsor selected SymVentures, will create so-called SymCubator Partner Labsa protected space where (certain of) their employees can incubate ICES related symVentures. The persons volunteering in these Partner Labs will both commit to the SymCubator Charter and to their employer (if they are employed) to respect constraints regarding confidential information and IPR issues. Furthermore, organisations can sponsor symVentures of their choice, by providing financial resources, making available staff on a temporary and part-time basis and providing logistic resources for free.

In certain cases, the SymCubator will be able to participate as partner in selected collaborative undertakings to provide an administrative backbone to symVentures, e.g. to networks and think-tanks. It will also be able serve as an auxiliary structure for organisations, which cannot recruit in time resources for carrying out symVentures or other ICES related projects, which they want to participate in whilst or after they have been incubated in the SymCubator. This may occasionally include a participation of the SymCubator as coordinator / co-coordinator for selected funded research & innovation undertakings, where neutral governance facilitation is critical.

The SymCubator can also act as legal entity to support administratively symVentures and financially (e.g. to employ / remunerate temporary employees working on a symVenture). Thereby for instance it can support membership organisations and networks, which cannot or do not want to set up a dedicated structure.

In the special case, where such a financially supported symVenture decides to become an independent for-profit organisation, the SymCubator will by default trade its support and IPR rights against a small stake in form of licensing revenues and / or a share of profits generated through the respective symVenture; this will have to happen in compliance with contracts that may affect this IPR, such as shared foreground from consortium projects.

Sometimes, this approach may be unacceptable for the initiators / leads / organisational sponsors of a symVenture requiring the SymCubator’s administrative and financial support. Possible – but exceptional – exemptions to the profit sharing with the SymCubator must be explicitly stated and justified at the time of the set-up of the symVentures and be approved by the SymCubator governance bodies. Typical justifications will include issues related to the common good and / or commitments to organisational sponsors having contributed significant financial resources to the SymCubator.

When a part of the SymCubator’s IPR are generated through the involvement of public bodies, this approach to IPR management will facilitate the protection of the common good. It will also empower the SymCubator to sponsor certain symVentures, which its members find particularly worthy.