Incubation Nation CIC

Incubation Nation CIC’s mission is to support women in business and local startups in Milton Keynes. A brand-new bespoke course and mentorship programme has been launched in partnership with the Love Local Hub where women can take their business ideas from concept to reality and scale successful product-based businesses.


Incubation Nation CIC is a not-for-profit organisation, offering a range of business skills training for women, using a creative business bootcamp style course with 4 months free space in a retail store in the centre:mk. In 2021, fifty women took part in the course funded by Milton Keynes Council, and now the social enterprise continues to fund ongoing support for these 50 businesses as well as 50 more in 2022.

Mentoring is vital to our small businesses and the peer to peer support from other small businesses has been amazing for confidence and stepping out of their comfort zone together.

In response to the Covid pandemic and resulting lockdown situation in 2020, the Love Local Hub instantly took to rent a bricks and mortar store to house up to 100 local small businesses and help them pursue another revenue stream beside online sales. Statistics last year showed that women were one of the society groups hit hardest by the pandemic, with additional pressures to cope with including unpaid work such as home-schooling and caring responsibilities, along with those many women already running businesses who faced instant closure and lack of financial support. The London School of Economics stated that the UK government “consistently failed” to consider gender impacts on women during its Covid-19 response.

The centre:mk and Atria Watford have been extremely supportive of the projects, and have also helped us open two retail stores to showcase our makers’ products. Our Watford store opened in 2021, enabling businesses from the MK store to expand to a new region via the new store, doubling their revenue.


Going live on 28th January 2022; Our Retail Business Bootcamp is a 12 week training course for women who have just started, or would like to start their own business. The course is centred around business development learning along with weekly group work, helping women in their peer group to connect and learn together on their business journeys. The development for the courses was funded by the Milton Keynes economic recovery fund.

Course 1. A 12 week business bootcamp for women starting their own business, crafted and delivered by Incubation Nation CIC in partnership with the Love Local Hub. Going back to basics, looking at pricing, profit, business planning, social media, marketing, brand photography,confidence, growth strategy and revenue streams whilst selling their products in a top 10 shopping centre – the centre:mk.

Course 2. Our 1 year mentoring programme is designed for women who have already been running their own business for 12 months or more and who want to grow their business in a sustainable way.



Women who would benefit most from both of these courses are those who enjoy working as part of a small group of other like-minded women for mutual support. Regular local and online meet-ups are included each month, which complement the course content, where women will be set goals and tasks to keep them on track with their business, as well as share homework, successes and challenges. Each attendee is paired with another group member to work with throughout the course, as an accountability and support partner. This helps women in business to improve their skills, mindset and network and take charge of their future.


Samantha Poole, co-founder of Incubation Nation and the Love Local hub, says: “Through our continued support for women owned businesses within Milton Keynes and as part of the Covid recovery agenda, we are delighted to be able to offer our valuable business bootcamp courses in store, which makes our supportive and creative hub and shop more able to support women locally in developing and growing great businesses. The result is shoppers also get a great shopping experience and a chance to support local in a top 10 UK shopping centre.

Our mission is to support women post-pandemic to achieve equal opportunities to grow their business successfully. With our mentoring program and business bootcamps, women can confidently build and grow sustainable businesses whilst supporting their family and the economy. 

To apply to be on our next business bootcamp – Please email


UK Women in business: key facts

What percentage of business owners are female UK?

The number of UK businesses currently owned by women at 32.37%, highlighting a remarkable shift from four years ago, when just 17% of founders were female. Our findings are reminiscent of the Rose Review’s finding in 2019 that ‘one in three UK entrepreneurs is female’.

  • Only 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs is female: a gender gap equivalent to 1.1 million missing businesses. (Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, HM Treasury 2019)
  • In 2017, only 5.6% of UK women run their own businesses, compared to 15% of women in Canada, almost 11% of women in the US, and over 9% of women in Australia and the Netherlands. (Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, HM Treasury 2019)
  • Self-employed women are the majority of the newly self-employed. The increase in the number of women in the UK becoming self-employed is unprecedented. Historically, women have made up just over a quarter of the self-employed, but since the 2008 downturn 58% of the newly self-employed have been female. In the last year, self-employment has started to decline for men, but not for women. (Women’s Budget Group, 2016)
  • There are now almost 1.5 million women self-employed which represents an increase of around 300,000 since before the economic downturn (Women in Enterprise: A Different Perspective, RBS Group 2013).
  • Women account for 17% of business owners, ie. owners/ managers/ employers ( Women in Enterprise: A Different Perspective, RBS Group 2013)
  • UK Women’s businesses have a higher churn rate (ie. more start-ups and closures). But women are less likely to attribute closure to ‘business failure’ and more likely to cite ‘personal reasons’ – which peak at age 25-34 for women. (Women in Enterprise: A Different Perspective, RBS Group 2013)

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