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Accelerators & Incubators

Accelerators, incubators and company builders are effective ways to move your startup forward and get the support you need. Here you can learn about the small but subtle differences between the three types of programmes and find the right one for you and your company.

Incubators and accelerators in Hamburg
© Mediaserver Hamburg /

What is an Accelerator?

An accelerator is a temporary scheme in which the business models of existing, but fledgling startup are developed in the long term. Those admitted to the scheme can look forward to seed funding and a good mentor network in return for a small share of their company. Accelerators are designed to scale up startups swiftly quickly and in a short, intense period. The main objectives are to accelerate growth and prepare the startup to launch on the market usually within three to six months. Startups receive intense mentoring and financial support in the form of seed capital or investment offers. Participants pitch their business ideas to investors on a "Demo Day" at the end of the scheme.

Accelerators offer startups a wealth of benefits for rapid market entry and growth. Founders gain valuable insight and support with strategic aspects of their business during intense mentoring sessions with experts. Financial support through seed capital or investments allow startups to focus on their business strategy. Access to extensive networks of investors and industrial experts helps forge key contacts and opens up opportunities for potential partnerships. Structured training, resources such as office space and technology infrastructure as well as a final demo day make accelerator schemes particularly attractive for startups. These schemes often lead to a swift and successful launch on the market launch and a supportive environment for sustainable development.

Mediaserver Hamburg/ Timo Sommer and Lee Maas

Incubator schemes for long-term support

Incubator schemes offer long-term support for startups. The focus is on the gradual development and strengthening of companies. Incubators provide resources such as office space, shared services, training and networks. The timeframe in the incubator is not fixed, and startups can remain until they are ready to operate independently. Incubators focus less on intense, short-term schemes and instead provide a supportive environment for long-term success.

Both accelerator and incubator approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice often depends on the startup’s individual needs and goals. Incubators are usually geared towards a special market and can emerge from established companies. The focus is on creating technical innovations. The so-called "company builder" is closely associated with the incubator scheme in terms of content. The investors are actively involved in the conception phase and the development of a company and in the content later on as well.

Accelerator vs. Incubator in Hamburg:
Which scheme is right for your startup?

The choice of accelerator and incubator scheme has a significant impact on the development of your startup. If you are aiming for rapid growth and a swift market entry, an accelerator scheme might be ideal. You will receive financial support, intense mentoring and coaching to develop your business model quickly.

However, if you are looking for long-term development and a sustainable business model, an incubator scheme might be a better choice. These schemes offer a more flexible environment without a clear time limit and focus on the gradual development of your company.

Accelerator schemes are characterized by structured, time-limited schemes that focus on swift decision-making processes. In contrast, incubator schemes offer more flexibility and allow your startup to develop in a more stable environment.

The decision depends on your specific needs and goals. Do you want to scale up your startup quickly? Then an accelerator might be the ideal solution for you. However, if you are looking for sustainable growth and a supportive environment, an incubator may offer exactly what your startup needs.

Last accessed: Feb 2024