About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

A look inside accelerators

This report looks at one particular startup support mechanism, describing three emerging archetypes for accelerators: ecosystem builders, investors and matchmakers.

Key findings

  • the report suggests three emerging archetypes for accelerators: ecosystem builders, investors and matchmakers
  • objectives and success metrics are likely to differ between these archetypes
  • the report questions whether accelerators created with the purpose of ecosystem building will have similar outputs as investor-led ones
  • clarity of vision and objectives of accelerator are crucial for success.

This report is one of two commissioned by Nesta to describe the changing landscape of startup support. The past decade has seen a profusion of programmes offering to make the entrepreneurial journey less solitary for founders. As with startups themselves, many of these programmes are yet unproven; some will undoubtedly fail. However, by providing a clearer definition and analysis of the models in use, it is hoped that these studies will aid startups, policymakers and programme developers alike in navigating that landscape, and in finding sustainable models which help startups thrive.

This report was commissioned in parallel with St John's report 'Startup support programmes: what’s the difference?'


Bart Clarysse, Imperial College Business School
Mike Wright, Enterprise Research Centre, Imperial College Business School and University of Ghent
Jonas Van Hove, Imperial College Business School