Effect of University Technology Business Incubator services on the performance of digital enterprises in Kenya
Murage, George Warui
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Much has been written about Kenya’s silicon savannah – a promising digital entrepreneurship ecosystem powered by high mobile penetration, high mobile money services and high mobile Internet penetration that has catapulted Kenya to the fore front of Africa’s digital renaissance. However, on one hand, Kenya is yet to fully reap the rewards of this ecosystem in the form of the creation and proliferation of high growth digital firms. On the other hand, the number of universities offering technology business incubation, aimed at converting innovation into vibrant successful businesses has increased in the recent past. The aim of this study was to assess the extent to which the services offered by these incubators in the form of technological support services, business support services and access to networks, influence the performance of their tenant firms which are digital start-ups. Drawing from resource-based view theory and social capital theory, the study surveyed 58 incubation graduates drawn from five universities incubators in Kenya. The data collected was analysed and inferential statistics was used to test the presence of significant relationships between the variables in this study. The findings of the study showed that there was a significant positive effect between business support services and access networks on the one hand and on the other, the performance of digital enterprise in terms of growth of sales, employment growth and product innovation. In addition, the study found no significant relationship between technology support services and the performance of digital start-ups. This performance was characterised as a median growth of sales of 15%; creation of a total of 199 permanent jobs, 578 temporary jobs and registration of 13 patents,13 trademarks and 113 trade secrets. The findings of this study are important to policy makers such as the Government of Kenya, managers of UTBIs, ICT industry players, such as ICT corporations and entrepreneurs of digital start-ups as it showed the utility of UTBIs as an economic development tool in advancing Kenya’s silicon savannah.