From research institutes or start-up spaces: What is the difference?

A recent study, has unearthed a surprising answer…

That they are actually quite similar, just that they are known by many different names –  incubators, co-working spaces, start-up spaces, innovation centres, maker spaces, research institutes and the list goes on.

All of these might offer a range of support or activities that at one time were found in separate spaces.

Still, since the question was asked some distinction between the different names, here’s a few pointers I took from the report. With exceptions to each, check out the full report – link to page 11 of the report here:

Industry focus Infrastructure support
Startup Specific Low
Coworking Broad Modest
Innovation Centre Specific Low-High


What makes a good innovation space?

  • Spaces that strengthen interactions, communication, and collaboration;
  • Spaces that are open, transparent and contextually responsive.

So don’t worry about flashy builds, focus on design. Don’t fret about exciting furniture, but do focus on what people need themselves or to work in teams. They are functional spaces.


What’s the process?

If you want an innovation space then:

  • Know that technology will mean that connecting people to ideas and to each other will happen in ways not seen before – so build in some flexibility to change the space.
  • Build the space to be open, transparent and inviting.
  • Design of the build no longer evolves only from the client or the leaders of an organization, it also includes those who will use the space.


Just know that office design and layout is a big deal! Check out the full report here: