As a startup entrepreneur you might have a great business idea, but getting from the idea phase to building a successful business can be a long road.
This is where startup accelerators and incubators come in, as they can provide you with some of the resources you need for startup success.
Luckily, London is one of the best places in the world for startups to gain access to the accelerator or incubator programme they need, as it has been ranked as the second largest tech hub in the world (second only to Silicon Valley) in 2022.
According to the 2022 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, there are a few reasons why London stands out as a hub for startups:
🔹 Access to investment: in 2021, London companies secured funding of £25.5 billion.
🔹 Access to skills: London is home to four of the world’s top 40 universities.
🔹 Government support: there is significant government investment in accelerator programmes.
What Is the Difference between an Accelerator and an Incubator Programme?
The terms “accelerator” and “incubator” are often used interchangeably, but there is a key difference between them that is important to understand.
A good clue to the difference between the two is in their names. Startup accelerators “accelerate” the growth of an existing company and focus on scaling a business, whereas startup incubators “incubate” new ideas, with a focus on innovation and building out a business model and company from innovative ideas.
No matter what your needs are or what industry you are in, if you are a startup based in London or looking to relocate here, this is the right guide for you.
We will be looking at the best startup incubators and accelerators London currently has to offer across the following categories:
🚀 Pre-Seed Incubators
🚀 General Tech Accelerators
🚀 Fintech Accelerators
🚀 Cyber Security Accelerators
🚀 Proptech Accelerators
🚀 Medtech Accelerators
🚀 Edtech Accelerators
🚀 Sustainability Accelerators
What to Look for in an Accelerator Programme
Before researching possible accelerators and incubators, it is important to understand what to look for when choosing one for your business.
Even though every startup will have unique needs, these are the things we think are crucial for all entrepreneurs to consider when making this decision.
What has the programme achieved in terms of success for the businesses that have taken part in it?
💡Relationships and networking:
What kind of network and community can the accelerator give you access to?
How do the accelerator’s incentives align with those of your business? Do they have an incentive to ensure that your business will be successful?
Ideally, you want an accelerator with a sector focus that aligns with your product and business.
Now that you have an idea of what to look for in accelerators and incubators, let's take a look at the startup incubators and accelerators currently available in London.
Founder Institute is “the world’s most proven network to turn ideas into fundable startups, and startups into global businesses.”
They have a variety of programmes depending on which stage of your startup journey you are at, but the early stages incubator accelerator programme is called the FI Core programme.
The FI Core programme provides startups with two tracks tailored to their needs: the Launch Track and the Growth Track.
Deal terms: “About halfway through each program, companies pledge 2.5% of their future equity in the form of a Warrant.
From that 2.5% share, any future financial returns from a liquidity event (for example, an IPO or acquisition) are distributed back to those who helped [the company], with the majority returned to your local ecosystem to support local growth.”
Hatch “supports underrepresented entrepreneurs to develop the knowledge, confidence, and skills needed to launch and grow a business.”
They do this through delivering workshops, events, and 1-2-1 volunteering support, connecting entrepreneurs in a community.
Hatch has three different programmes, which are suitable for startups at different stages of their journey.
Launchpad helps entrepreneurs develop their innovative idea, while Incubator is suitable for founders who already have a part-time business or minimum viable product but need some help on how to grow that business.
Lastly, the Accelerator programme helps startups who are already successful but need help on how to scale up quickly.
Deal terms: Depending on the programme, there is a joining fee ranging from £50 to £300.
All programmes offer expert-led workshops, facilitated group sessions with fellow entrepreneurs, 1-2-1 support, support developing and practising your pitch, free access to networking and events, and membership to Hatch’s community of founders.
Accelerators for General Tech Startups
Techstars’ accelerators are intensive three-month programmes that match startups with expert mentors and give them access to a global network of investors, corporate partners, and alumni who could be potential customers.
Techstars also provides funding and access to funding opportunities, workshops, and curated resources.
Deal terms: Techstars invests up to $120,000 in a startup that participates in one of their accelerators.
They purchase the right to 6% of the company’s shares in the form of a convertible note worth $100,000, and they also provide $20,000 upfront to support expenses during the accelerator programme.
Seedcamp doesn’t directly run an accelerator programme, but they are a European acceleration fund that provides investment in early-stage startups as well as the same resources that startups would get from participating in an accelerator programme.
Apart from funding, Seedcamp also provides ongoing support in growing the business and access to an extensive network of advisors and investors.
Deal terms: Seedcamp are first-cheque investors, backing founders with ticket sizes between £300K-500K.
Founders Factory has two programmes: a startup incubator programme called Venture Studio for entrepreneurs at the idea stage, and the Accelerator programme for startups who have a product and want to scale quickly.
Founders Factory’s team of industry experts gives startup businesses support across multiple functions, including product and design, fundraising, growth, talent, data science, strategic partnerships, corporate development, publicity and communications, and engineering.
Startups also get access to an extensive investor network, industry leaders, and alumni founders.
Deal terms: Founders Factory will build a six-month bespoke program, invest capital (amount depending on the sector) and take 3 - 7% equity, depending on your startup’s current valuation.
Accelerators for Fintech Startups
Fintech Innovation Lab is a 12-week accelerator program sponsored and managed by Accenture.
It is exclusively focused on startups within the financial technology space, and offers startups at various stages the opportunity to “refine and test their value proposition with the support of the world’s leading financial service firms.”
The programme offers participants access to a partner network consisting of more than 45 of the world’s leading financial institutions, and provides them with mentors who are industry leaders and experts in the Fintech space.
Deal terms: Not publicly available.
Blenheim Chalcot runs an accelerator programme called Venture Builder that is open to early-stage startup businesses within the Fintech, Media, Edtech, and IT Services sectors.
Their programme runs the full spectrum from incubation (where they assess and test the business model for three to six months) through to the next four stages of seed, venture, growth, and private equity investment.
This means that their accelerator programme is fairly unique, in that it runs for two to three years and provides all of the necessary support at each stage of the startup journey.
Deal terms: Deals are structured on an ad-hoc basis for each successful applicant, but typically include office space, plus “access to a member of the BC Investment Team who can provide funding and financial modelling advice, one-to-one idea generation sessions with the partners at BC, and specialist subject matters including technology [and] go-to-market.”
Accelerators for Cyber Security Startups
Cylon Ventures does not have an accelerator programme, but they function as a seed fund that provides startups in the cyber security space with funding as well as the support and expertise that they would get from an accelerator programme.
They support the businesses they invest in to “reach early customers, meet other investors, and build long-term key strategic relationships.”
Deal terms: Cylon Ventures invest their own capital in early-stage companies and their “cheques are therefore ‘angel-sized.’”
Accelerators for Proptech Startups
Pi Labs has been running an annual 15-week accelerator programme since 2015. Each year they select a group of startup businesses within the Proptech space to take part in the programme.
They start investing in the pre-seed phase but can invest across multiple stages as a business scales and grows.
During the programme, startups attend a standard set of workshops that cover a wide range of topics including business strategy, sales and marketing, and fundraising and investment.
At the end of the programme each startup has the opportunity to pitch its business to a wide network of potential clients and investors.
Pi Labs also provide “support and expertise to encourage resiliency and longevity in founders and employees, to ensure that the companies [they] invest in have a real, sustainable impact in the sector.”
Deal terms: Pi Labs provides an investment of up to £250,000 for an equity stake of 5 - 10%.
Accelerators for Medtech Startups
This is an accelerator specifically for companies within the Medtech space who have a product or service that has a high potential for meeting a specific need of the NHS.
Companies who are admitted typically already have a product that has been shown to meet such a need, and receive assistance from the accelerator to scale the business.
The accelerator provides support over a 12 month period and includes access to an NHS Navigator with NHS or service manager expertise, workshops, and support from digital health and NHS mentors.
Deal terms: The accelerator does not directly provide funding, but connects companies to relevant funding opportunities.
Accelerators for Edtech Startups
This is an accelerator for startups who are creating products focused on changing how people learn or teach.
The programme runs over 12 weeks and provides participants with access to training and mentorship from leading experts and researchers in the Edtech space.
At the end of the programme, startups have the opportunity to present their business to a network of investors, policymakers, and strategic partners.
Startups also have “access to a million dollars’ worth of free and discounted services that are hand-picked to help businesses scale.”
Deal terms: This is a non-profit programme, so it does not require startup businesses to give up any equity.
“Emerge Education is a European seed fund investing in founders solving the $8.5tn skills gap.”
Whilst they do not have an accelerator programme, they invest in early-stage startups and provide the expert support and access to an investor network within the Edtech space that startups would receive from an accelerator programme.
They invest in startup businesses during the pre-seed and seed stages.
Deal terms: Emerge typically invests “between £300-500k, with the ability to go up to £1m.”
Accelerators for Sustainability Startups
Bethnal Green Ventures runs an accelerator programme specifically for startups who are developing “tech for good”. By this, they mean businesses that are solving either social or environmental problems.
They invest in 20 - 24 new startup teams a year through two three-month-long programmes.
The programme includes workshops, one-on-one support on workshop topics, support from experienced entrepreneurs, and feedback from peers, the Bethnal Green Ventures Team and mentors.
There is also a demo day where startups can present their business to a network of investors, founders, mentors, and supporters.
Deal terms: Bethnal Green Ventures offer “a £30k investment for 7% equity and three months of intensive learning.”
Sustainable Ventures invest in early-stage startups who are addressing climate change and resource scarcity.
They do this through their Sustainable Accelerator, which provides “a unique blend of equity investment together with expert commercialisation support."
Participants also get access to Europe’s largest Cleantech ecosystem, co-working spaces, a dedicated portfolio support team, access to a network of expert advisors and mentors, and value-add services including design, grants, and R&D tax credits.
Deal terms: Not publicly available.
How Can MOHARA Help?
At MOHARA we don’t run an accelerator programme, but we can still assist your early-stage startup business with its accelerator journey.
We can either help you get to a point where you are ready to join an accelerator, or we can function as a partner during your accelerator programme.
All accelerators typically provide advice, coaching, and access to a global network of mentors and investors.
However, hardly any of them provide the technical capabilities you need to execute your product idea and build it out.
For example, if you are a non-technical founder and do not have a technical co-founder or team in place, most accelerators will not accept you as a participant.
This is where MOHARA comes in.
We can function as a technical team for your business and bring more than ten years of experience and software product expertise to the table.
We can do this if you need to get to a minimum viable product before joining an accelerator, or we can provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to execute on scaling your product whilst taking part in an accelerator programme.
Why not get in touch, tell us about your idea and your business and see if we would be a good fit as a partner?
Let's be pioneers together!