The impact of accelerators: an ecosystem perspective

DaSilva, Carlos (School of Management Fribourg, HES-SO // University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland)

Entrepreneurship and the startup phenomenon have received considerable attention from researchers, with a particular focus on topics such as the identification of: new ventures’ success factors, conditions that foster entrepreneurial processes and new venture creation (Grimaldi & Grandi, 2005; Maine et al., 2015; Roberts, 1991; Smilor, 1987; Sternberg, 2014; Stuart & Abetti, 1987; Timmons et al., 1999). Accelerators are part of a wide range of initiatives aimed at stimulating and supporting entrepreneurship (Pauwels et al., 2016). The acceleration concept aims to link innovative startups, access to capital and training in order to accelerate the growth of early-stage ventures, and thus speed up the transformation process from startup to a sustainable company. Accelerators assist ventures by providing mentorship and training to a specific cohort of startups through a structured and fixed-term program (Cohen & Hochberg, 2014). In addition, accelerators may offer financing (Christiansen, 2009; Miller & Bound, 2011). While accelerators do have certain common traits, they also differ widely depending on their funding sources, industry focus, start-ups base (customer), network, and resources. These differences give rise to different acceleration models. In this paper, we identify five (different) main types of accelerators: Independent Accelerators (IA), Corporate Accelerators (CA), Hybrid Accelerators (HA), University Accelerators (UA), and Government Accelerators (GA). We then describe their main features, similarities, and differences on the basis of what we define as the accelerators’ ‘characterizing’ variables (institutional mission/strategy, industry vertical, location, market orientation, origin of projects, stage, program duration, sources of revenue, support offered, management, network). We argue that the diversity of acceleration models has been driven by the innovative power of startups to develop new technologies, new business models, and foster the regional and economic development of the region in which they operate. By studying the dynamics of the accelerator industry, we identified two main acceleration models, Model 1 and Model 2, which provide accelerators with useful strategic indications on how and where to position themselves in an ecosystem. To exemplify our results, we report empirical evidence from case studies of eight Swiss accelerators. Going through the accelerators’ characterizing variables allowed us to capture the main differences between the five types of accelerators to support our two-accelerator-models (view). In our conclusions, we highlight the importance of a range of accelerators, offering various benefits to satisfy different startups. Accelerators need to understand their strategic positioning within their ecosystem, and realize how their focus matches the variety of demands and expectations coming from startup ventures.

Type de conférence:
full paper
Economie et Services
HEG FR Haute école de gestion de Fribourg
Adresse bibliogr.:
Glasgow, Scotland, 21-24 June 2017
Glasgow, Scotland
21-24 June 2017
26 p.
Titre du document hôte:
Proceedings of the 17th European Academy of Management (EURAM) Conference
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 Notice créée le 2017-10-30, modifiée le 2018-02-15

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