Minc: An Incubator and Innovation Hub Supporting a “Sharing Culture”

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When you enter Minc, the startup and incubator space in Malmö, it feels different from other innovation hubs you might have seen. It’s the mix of the crowd that makes it different: Experienced entrepreneurs and young startups, people in suits as well as in hoodies, visitors from abroad and swedish coworkers. The (great) restaurant is open to outsiders, which adds another level of diversity. Minc is situated in Malmös Western Harbour, an urban development area on the waterfront that has become known for it’s sustainability model.

An Incubator With a Vibrant Community

Minc has different offerings for people at different stages: Their core element is their competitive and successful incubator program, geared towards startups and entrepreneurs based in the region. In a two-year-program (they are thinking about changing it to one year soon), the selected startups are mentored, supported, monitored and guided to success. They get office space in Minc, too. Quality is key, and the startups in the incubator need to show constant progress and willingness to work on their product or company. If they fail to do so over several months, they are put on hold.

Up to 12 Startups participate in Mincs Incubator programm

Up to 12 Startups participate in Mincs Incubator programm

If you are not a startup looking for an incubator, but need an office for your project while wanting to be connected to the entrepreneurial community of Malmö, and you are a good fit for the Minc community, you might rent workspace.

Probably the most interesting experiment: If you are working on an idea or a project that is not a startup (yet), you can still be part of the community by joining StartupLabs. You get a spot at one of the communal desks, free WIFI, free coffee, for 6 months. The price: Zero Kronas, zero Euros. That’s how Minc explains this part of their offering: “Sometimes fast wifi, coffee, a network of other entrepreneurs around and a place to sit for a shorter period of time is just what you need to test if your business idea will work. You’ll have the possibility to stay for up to 6 months free of charge to test your business idea at Mincs StartupLabs. At the end of these 6 months you’ll hopefully know if you want to go 100% with your business idea!”

It’s All About Meetings

Why on earth would you do that without earning money with it? We ask Kajsa Bengtsson, one of Mincs co-founders and responsible for all things outreach. “It doesn’t cost that much, and it adds so much to the community”, she explains. Community, and the mingling of creative minds, is key here, and it became even more important throughout the years. Minc and its incubator program exist since 2002. “First, it was all about methods. Now, it’s all about meetings, about being THE hub where innovators meet and connect.”

Kajsa & Maisa at Minc

Kajsa & Maisa have their office right in the middle of the open work space.

At Minc, there have been a lot of learnings over the years. There is, for example, only one coffee machine, located in the communal space. If you want to grab a coffee, you need to mingle and meet other community members. Learning from and supporting each other is one of the success factors here. Every week, on Thursday mornings, new members introduce themselves and their projects in a communal meeting. “Culture and Community are incredibly important to us”, explains Kajsa. “We want to support a sharing culture, and we created the space in a way that enforces meeting and communication. You need to work on that by making use of structure and architecture, it never happens by itself.”

The Importance of Space

Maisa Dabus, responsible for events and meetings, shows us around and explains where meetups, talks and hackathons take place. The rooms are flexible, furniture can be moved around to create bigger spaces if necessary. There are benefits to creating a space from scratch.
The architecture at Minc is open and airy, with many transparent doors and communal spaces, but also smaller office units. It was created to be flexible, not perfect – partly to generate a constant flow of people. “You don’t want it to be too nice here, because you don’t want the startups to get too comfortable here. You want them to move on at some point”, says Kajsa. (It is pretty nice here, though, compared to other coworking spaces.)

Workspace at Minc

Workspaces and communal tables at Minc.

Minc, and Malmö in general, attract more entrepreneurs than ever. Last year, 120 teams applied for the incubator, ten to twelve get chosen each period. Minc is a non profit and financed by the municipality. It wasn’t always easy. In the 80ies and 90ies, Malmö was not really the place to be. When the shipping industry died, it was a sad place with extremely high unemployment rates, no university, no startups, no future. Smart political and entrepreneurial decisions created what is known today as one of the most diverse and fruitful new business hubs in Europe.

Kajsa explains how that influenced Mincs identity: “Our history is our success today. There is only one way from the bottom, and that’s up. When you don’t have a tradition, you can invent new ways of doing things.”

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