European startup accelerators: current state and future trends

A dive into the current (and future) state of startup accelerators in Europe, with a look at two reports on the topic: one white paper by Paris-based NUMA and a report on 2014 performance by Fundacity.
European startup accelerators: current state and future trends

There are two interesting reports that came out in the past two weeks that try to shed some (more) light on the ongoing increase of startup accelerator programs and their long-term impact and viability in Europe. Both are worth highlighting.

The first is a very interesting white paper on current accelerator trends and strategies for the future, which came out of the recent European Accelerator Summit, which took place in the NUMA innovation hub in Paris last December.

The second is a report by Fundacity, which has a few flaws but in general does a good job capturing the current accelerator momentum in Europe.

Also read: Friendly advice to startup founders evaluating accelerators: look beyond the funding

NUMA White Paper

Based on insights from the aforementioned two-day European Accelerator Summit, NUMA has released a white paper on the current state and the future of startup accelerators in these parts.

You can view or download the Slideshare presentation below, but I wanted to provide you with an executive summary of the 70-page document.

According to NUMA's white paper (which, by the way, is an interesting read for all entrepreneurs and investors, not only the people running accelerator programs), these are the five big trends in the accelerator space today:

1) Pre-acceleration

Structured programs grooming startup founders prior to applying for or joining a startup accelerator program are becoming increasingly popular. Check the white paper for examples.

2) A shift towards vertical accelerators

Exemplified by Startupbootcamp, which has kickstarted vertical accelerators in the hardware, IoT and e-commerce space, as well as programs like GameFounders (gaming) and Level39 (fintech).

3) A changing relationship between corporates and accelerators

Some big corporations opt to start their own accelerator programs, but NUMA notes that there seems to be an ongoing shift to partnerships with existing accelerators, either as basic sponsors or as truly hands-on partnerships with clear benefits at both sides of the equation.

Also read: Corporate-run startup accelerators: the good, the bad and the plain ugly

4) Consolidation ahead

NUMA foresees a wave of 'consolidation and contraction' in the European accelerator space, as programs become increasingly international and the 'network effect' is kicking in.

5) The business model of accelerators is evolving

It's no secret that the top 2-3 of accelerators in the world are seeing stellar results, versus all the rest, provoking doubt about the long-term viability of the model. The NUMA white paper explores different paths to cash-flow for accelerators, including starting proper seed funds, equity for services, 'acceleration-as-a-service', cross-border expansion, monetisation of physical spaces, and/or moving to a fee-based model.

The report suggests that accelerator need to move to a 'full-stack' model (i.e. A combination of the above revenue models) in order to be able to compete on a global scale.

The white paper explores all of these trends in greater detail. It also does a decent attempt at actually defining what makes an accelerator, something that continues to be up for debate in the industry, and tries to answer the question: 'is acceleration only for startups?'.

Overall, I daresay it's a good read if you're interested in the European technology industry – you can check out the white paper here.

Also read: What startups want (from their accelerators): support, support and support – and maybe a bit of cash

Fundacity Report

A company called Fundacity, which says it 'helps startups and investors connect', has almost simultaneously released its European Accelerator Report 2014, attempting to capture the performance of startup accelerators in 2014.

The report is not without shortcomings, we should note. For one, there's no data in there from two of Europe's biggest accelerators, Seedcamp and Techstars. Fundacity says it has reached out to 128 accelerators from across Europe, but 41% of those contacted have opted not to participate.

That said, here are its most interesting findings:

- In 2014, roughly €39.6 million was invested in 1,588 startups by 76 accelerators - UK was by far the most active country, with approx. €13.25 million invested in 599 startups - Entrepreneurial Spark was deemed the most active (though it doesn't take equity) - Within more clearly defined accelerators, Telefonica's Wayra accelerator ranked highest - The hottest topics for investment are mobile apps, big data / analytics and IoT

accelerators europe

Featured image credit: forest71 / Shutterstock

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