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.

Startup Accelerator Programmes: A practice guide

This practice guide explains how accelerator programmes work and supports you to think practically about setting up your own programme.

Key findings

  • Find out what accelerator programmes are and how they work.
  • Learn about the common characteristics and different roles of accelerators programmes.
  • Understand why you might choose an accelerator programme as an incubation method, and sense check if it is right for you.
  • Start to think about accelerator design in your own context using practical prompts and worksheets.

Over the past decade, a new wave of programmes designed to support early stage startups have sprung up across the globe. Known as accelerators, these programmes have helped to produce some huge successes – including names such as AirBnB and Dropbox. However, a large number of accelerated companies still struggle to find follow on funding, and becoming a financially sustainable accelerator programme is no easy task.

The aim of this Practice Guide, therefore, is to help you understand some of the key choices and challenges you’ll need to think about if you're considering building a programme of your own.

It does this by bringing together common practices and patterns to highlight and frame the decisions facing policymakers, investors or anyone interested in the creation and running of these programmes.

Innovation Skills Team