Accelerators Limiting Corporate Innovation?

Startup accelerators, now permanent fixtures of the tech community, were hard to come by just a few years ago. But exponential growth in the number of startups in recent years, has prompted a huge increase in accelerator schemes constructed to foster these newcomers’ success.

With dedicated mentoring and early stage investment, there are now more than 200 programs that claim to nurture young tech startups globally. A massive transformation from the 10 or so available just 5 years ago.



If you’ve worked with any of the Tällt team, you’ll know we spend a load of time inside accelerators.

But what you might not know is we don’t think they’re all that. Well, not in isolation.



So, we spend a lot of time with innovation teams in great big global brands.

And they’re all pretty much up to the same 3 things:

  1. Sending execs to Silicon Valley
  2. Setting up internal innovation labs
  3. Sponsoring a local accelerator

But you know what, we’ve not met one team that think they’ve got it right. 

Invariably a corporate will partner with one key accelerator and keep a close eye on the startups coming through their programme.

In exchange for a direct contribution of money and time (namely mentoring), the corporate will be connected to a cohort of carefully selected startups, all with the potential to disrupt their market.

And this is definitely a good thing. To a point.

By knowing what’s around the corner (figuratively) will mitigate risk of disruption. Observing new ideas and ways of working will feed inspiration and challenge preconceived ways of working. Plus having a connection with startups early on provides a great hunting ground of M&A teams.



Unsurprisingly Silicon Valley’s big names topped the charts in the annual list of the best startup accelerators, with the likes of AngelPad and MuckerLab featuring in the prestigious ‘Platinum’ category. This is an opinion shared by the top corporates keeping a beady eye on those graduating from their ranks. 

At Tällt we’re big fans of the startup accelerator launched by Asian Insurance company AIA late in 2014. It’s supported by venture capital firm Nest, focusses on health and wearable tech and is one of the very few programmes currently specifically serving the Asian insurance startup industry.

The UK tech accelerator landscape is also evolving at a rate of knots, with an ever growing list of home grown programs seeking to mirror the achievements seen by the likes of Silicon Valley’s Y-Combinator & 500 Startups.

While the majority are based in London, we are starting to see cities such as Edinburgh and Birmingham make the move to becoming incubation hubs for startups.

And of course we can’t write a piece on accelerators without mentioning a recent(ish) report from think tank Centre for Cities which hailed Bristol and Bath, as the fastest-growing tech sector outside London. With over 1,100 tech companies between the two cities, it is clear that areas like Bristol, home of Tällt’s HQ, presents a serious opportunity for investors, private individuals and corporates alike.

The Engine Shed, located in Bristol, is home to a network of enterprise programmes designed to harness the talent of local tech startups with innovation potential.



But is partnering with an accelerator enough? Definitely not.

In a rapidly evolving startup landscape, where ideas and opportunities are popping up everywhere, the need to track the high-volume of disruption on a global scale is critical.

Often an accelerator will take on less than a dozen startups a year. And it might sound obvious, but mitigating corporate disruption through the proximity to a dozen or so startups is an absolute non-starter. It’s a narrow glimpse into the world of disruptive business that will be changing the face of the industry.

A good and necessary start.

Partnering with accelerators gives an insight to the startup world – how they think, how they bootstrap, how they hustle. It’ll give a new dimension on cultures, processes and people.

And of course doing so, gives an insight into those businesses that may well shape an industries future.


Here at Tällt we track over 1 million startups globally. With researchers across 14 countries we monitor disruptive innovation on a local and global scale. As an example of our recent work, check out our latest Disruption Report 2016 | Insurance.

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