There was a time when business incubators were largely the domain of early-stage technology companies. Not anymore. According to the National Business Incubation Association, the U.S. houses roughly 1,500 incubators for startups, and an increasing number of them focus on niches (and regions) that were previously overlooked. Whether you need commercial-grade kitchen equipment, intel from music-industry executives or farmers to test your latest agricultural invention, there’s likely an incubator that can help.
Unlike some development programs, which often span just three to four months, many incubators nurture startups for six, 12, 18 months or more. Some incubators offer desks, labs and workshop space in the company of other entrepreneurs; others are virtual. Some offer a set curriculum, complete with sessions or one-on-ones with investors, manufacturers, lawyers, accountants, industry leaders and business coaches; others employ a free-form mentorship model that brings in experts as needed. Some offer free business services; they may even throw in a stipend and housing. Others offer seed capital in exchange for equity or future revenue.
Beyond all this variety, startups in niche industries have highly specific needs. That’s where the following new U.S. incubators come in. We took a look at 10 of the coolest programs out there helping entrepreneurs in highly specialized sectors.