It is important to note that there is a significant difference between a “shared-use kitchen” and an “incubator” or “accelerator.” The main differentiator is that a shared-use kitchen provides little to no supportive resources, training, or capacity building for entrepreneurs. An incubator can be further differentiated from an accelerator by the fact that an incubator is focused on new and very early-stage businesses, whereas an accelerator is focused on established businesses looking to move on to a more robust stage of business development. A study by Econsult Solutions found that frequently, the terms “shared-use kitchen” and “kitchen incubator/accelerator” are used interchangeably. This fact can be problematic because many entrepreneurs require more than a shared-use kitchen in order to effectively legitimize and grow their business. It should be noted that there are still other types of shared-use kitchen environments: “community kitchens.” These types of facilities are not typically focused on any sort of small business development, but rather to support neighborhood stakeholders and institutions. Community kitchens can take a variety of forms, being used to cook meals for donation in low-income geographies, for cooking classes, to provide a space for hobbyists, to accommodate eating clubs, to support community programming (such as health/nutrition or youth programs), or a variety of other uses. While some of the kitchens surveyed may be defined more as shared-use kitchens, we sought to eliminate those that seemed to be primarily community kitchens. Many facilities run a fine line between being a shared-use kitchen and an incubator or an incubator and an accelerator.
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