The infoDev (Information for Development) program was launched in 1995 and was aimed at assistance in getting over the economic difficulties in developing countries under conditions of informatization of the world community. This global Program is financed by 23 donors and is managed by the World Bank of Reconstruction and Development. Up to now infoDev partners with 18 international government and 4 private corporation. Fulfilling the pilot projects, the Program helps to promote innovations in the sphere of information-communication technologies (ICT) dedicated to facilitation of social-economic development. For the last 8 years infoDev has financed 350 projects all over the world.
The Incubator Initiative is a new infoDev flagship initiative, aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and private sector development in developing countries. This Initiative will be dedicated, over an initial three-year period, to the establishment of a network of incubators to facilitate the emergence and development of small and medium size Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) enterprises in developing countries.
It is designed to bridge existing breach between the technological advancement and entrepreneurial skills in different countries. The infoDev Incubator Initiative is taking place in a three-phased approach, each phase being implemented by the grant principle on a competitive basis.
Phase 1 started in July 2002 and is dedicated to establishing the infoDev Incubator Support Center - iDISC and is being implemented jointly by the Brazilian Association of Science Parks and Business Incubators - ANPROTEC, and the International Business Incubator (USA). The Project is designed to collect knowledge, experiences, best practices, toolkits and methodologies specifically targeted at facilitation of business-incubation process in the developing countries.
Phase 2 focuses on assisting business incubators in developing countries and is aimed at consolidating the operational and self-sustaining capacity, efficiency through the building and more effective use of ICT skills and ICT-enabled business incubation services.
The importance of SMEs as a driving force for economic growth and social development has been recognized lately. Both in industrialized and developing countries, governments have defined policies, programs and instruments in support of the development of SMEs; business incubators have been increasingly used to accelerate the growth and development of SMEs providing them with a set of shared facilities, services, Internet, and financial inputs.
Some business incubators in developed countries have benefited substantially from the integration of ICT into their business and the companies they are incubating. In addition, with the expansion of the Internet and electronic commerce, new generations of SMEs have emerged. Unfortunately, most business incubators in developing countries are still at early stages of development and have needs for applying new business models aimed at the better providing business services.