Start-up Incubators for Refugees: Applying Psychological Methods to Increase Chances of Entrepreneurial Success


  • Andreas Hinz FHNW
  • Miriam Nido
  • Benedikt Hell



Start-up incubators for refugees, health and organisational psychology, candidate selection and guidance, psychological assessment


An increasing number of start-up incubators offer programmes designed specifically for refugees. They provide entrepreneurship training and access to a closely-knit community for start-up development. Beyond that, they also support refugees in overcoming typical challenges, including a lack of language skills and required qualifications, an uncertain residence status, discrimination and psychological distress on various levels. While these incubators have already contributed to refugees’ social and economic integration, the number of successful participants is still relatively low. The question remains about what can be done to multiply the potential so that more significant numbers of refugees can benefit. To support incubators in achieving more significant numbers, this work presents a framework of methods and tools based on health and organisational psychology literature. More specifically, this work focuses on methods and tools to be applied during two critical phases of the incubation cycle, namely the selection process and the actual programme. First, suitable candidates may be overlooked and/or less suitable candidates admit-ted during selection. This work proposes approaches to improve the accuracy of assessment methods so that more significant numbers of candidates with good chances of success are admit-ted. In addition, these methods can help identify those candidates who may appear unsuitable at first sight but could likely get ready with a preparatory course before joining the programme. Second, participants may have difficulty keeping up during the programme for various reasons (often related to the mentioned challenges) and therefore drop out early. This work proposes science-based approaches which help to adapt and improve existing programme elements and/or implement new elements to increase the chances of successful programme completion. Overall, this work seeks to contribute to the academic discussion on innovative approaches to upscale the work of incubators for refugees. Further research will involve co-developing practical approaches with incubators for refugees, cooperating on the implementation, and measuring impact. The goal of providing incubators with relevant practical insights is to deploy more significant numbers of refugees as entrepreneurs and contribute to broader social and economic impact.