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Who can help accelerate my idea?

Ranging from pure-play infrastructure support, to capital-raising, to knowledge gaining, here’s a look at today’s most active accelerators and how they are making a difference

Sahil Anand,  

Director, IBS Intelligence 

A couple of months ago I wrote an article in IBS Journal that spoke about the ‘two-way street’ between corporations and start-ups and how there are equal opportunities for both sides to extract enough value from each other. The most prominent environment in which this takes place nowadays is via the existence of ‘labs’ and ‘accelerators’ globally. In fact (cheeky plug alert), IBS Intelligence also recently set up its first lab in Dubai’s Internet City to bring start-ups and other technology suppliers to work closely with banks. While some are set up with the intention of turning them into investing platforms, there are an increasing number of such environments being created more with a community-build focus, either in the form of co-working spaces or even just brainstorming venues for start-ups to learn and network. Here’s a summary of Europe’s most prominent and active such environments.


One-liner pitch: No upfront equity requirement

Duration: 2 weeks + 6 months

Sectors: Agnostic

Mastercard’s well-known Startpath program is on the favourites list for start-ups for one important reason: it does not lay out any requirements or obligations in terms of giving out equity to the accelerator. Most such accelerators take between 2-8% equity as granted in exchange for expertise, networks and infrastructure, but Startpath’s program only takes an ‘option’ to invest in the first round after working with the startup. This gives founders some breathing room during a period which is probably the most crucial time for anybody trying to grow. Another strong value proposition is the fact that participants can attend and benefit from the program virtually for a period of six months from their home-cities, with physical presence only being required during the two week immersion period. What makes the program even more exciting is the fact that members of the program are given the ability to build their solutions and offerings on top of Mastercard’s current platform. The Startpath program has supported renowned start-ups such as Hummingbird, Tranzer, Zencity, Minka, ShieldPay and Sensibill, among others, and has a strong partner network of institutions such as Citi, Rabobank, Standard Chartered and Rak Bank. Start-ups need to have a team greater than five, prior Seed or Series A funding completed, and a clear sizable market opportunity to be applicable for this program.


One-liner pitch: Truly global

Duration: 3 months

Sectors: Agnostic

Startupbootcamp’s program is sector agnostic and global in the truest sense. With a wide variety of programs ranging from Qatar Sportstech, to Fintech in Mumbai, to Fashiontech in Milan, among others, this three-month program gives start-ups global access to giant partners such as Intel, Rabobank, EY, Vodafone, Cisco and Lloyds Bank. On top of providing physical infrastructure, expertise and network access, the program also offers start-up members with $15,000 to cover living and daily costs for the duration of the program. This is pretty unusual and makes the overall proposition even more interesting to participants. Start-ups typically need to give out 6-8% equity stake to the program in exchange for all the above benefits.


One-liner pitch: Belongs to the Canary Wharf Group

Duration: Depends on your package

Sectors: Agnostic

Level39 is giant Canary Wharf Group’s shot into the start-up World. With offices and workspaces spanning across four floors at the iconic 1 Canada Square building in London, participants are encouraged to pick from three different infrastructure packages ranging from £400 per month to £700 per month. These facilities are home to a variety of renowned alumni members such as Revolut, Digital Shadows and Motive Partners, among others. Level39’s business model seems be based more around being a coworking space and less about taking equity in participating start-ups.

Barclays Accelerator

One-liner pitch: Brainchild of an iconic banking group

Duration: 13 weeks

Sectors: Fintech

Not only is this accelerator a part of the giant Barclays plc, but it also has the privilege of being associated with the renowned American seed-accelerator Techstars. With an acceptance rate of less than 1%, the Techstars program boasts of 300k+ alumni across the world along with a huge list of powerful partners. This 13-week program gives 10 lucky participants access to co-working spaces, Barclays technology, and upto $120,000 worth of investment from the accelerator. Start-ups such as Waffle, Sendfriend, Chainalysis, Cutover and Flux are bi-products of this program. Barclays typically takes 2% worth of equity in any start-up with Techstars taking as much as 4%.


One-liner pitch: Joint-venture with Temenos

Duration: 12 weeks

Sectors: Fintech, LifeTech, PropTech, Smart-City

Founded in 2015, this program is the joint effort between Polytech Ventures and Temenos to launch Switzerland’s first fintech accelerator. After launching with Temenos, Fusion has been able to bring on board other well-reputed partners such as Google Cloud, Intercom and Amazon Web Services, among others. While still being relatively young, this accelerator has already been home to start-ups such as KY3C, Acebanker, Biowatch and more. Fusion also recently set up a Blockchain Lab, which aims to operate as a community of blockchain experts and developers working on new product development.


One-liner pitch: Introduction to a wide-variety of investors

Duration: “From start to success”

Sectors: Agnostic

Seedcamp’s program is based on the foundation that they will always aim to be the first investor ever in any start-up. The program typically begins by taking about 7.5% equity for £100,000 and then works with participants to raise future rounds where Seedcamp has the optionality to co-invest. One of its main propositions is the fact that it opens up each participant to a network of future investors. The fixed methodology of always taking up about 7.5% equity for a certain amount of money automatically means that most start-ups entering this system are assigned the exact same overall valuation regardless of the business model. This logic seems flawed to some but Seedcamp has built a great track record by being home to companies such as Revolut, UiPath, Bloomsbury AI, Trussle and many others. While the focus is on Europe, Seedcamp sometimes also looks at opportunities around the world.


One-liner pitch: A variety of different programs suiting participant needs

Duration: 6 months

Sectors: Fintech

F10 is the accelerator and incubator of SIX, the operator of Switzerland’s stock market. Focused on fintech, F10 offers a variety of programs depending on what stage the participant is at. Programs range from ‘Idea to Prototype’, to ‘Prototype to Product’, to ‘Product to Market’. F10 offers office space in Zurich and is also well regarded for the number of fintech events it organises for the overall community as well as its participants and partners. The accelerator has been home to start-ups such as Lendity, Enterprise Bot, Dealpool, Veezoo and Target Insights.

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