innovation & technology

Incubators and accelerators in the spotlight

Nov 21, 2018

The terms “accelerator” and “incubator” are often assumed to represent the same concept. However, there are a few key distinctions that first-time founders should be aware of.
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In the past 10 years, there has been an exponential rise in the number of startup incubators and accelerators across the world. It first started in the US, followed by Europe and other regions.

Incubators and Accelerators are both designed to accelerate the growth and success of young entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services. This can include access to physical space, capital, mentorship/coaching, and networking opportunities.

The concept of incubators/accelerators dedicated to sports tech emerged in 2015 and an increasing number of cities are investigating the potential of creating sports innovation hubs. These platforms are being praised for their capacity to foster sports innovation.

Accelerator vs. incubator – what you need to know

The terms “accelerator” and “incubator” are often assumed to represent the same concept. However, there are a few key distinctions that first-time founders should be aware of. What differentiates an accelerator from an incubator reside in the following aspects:

Accelerators fast-track the growth of an existing company, while incubators “incubate” disruptive ideas with the objective to build a solid business model and company. Therefore, accelerators focus on scaling a business while incubators are often more focused on innovation.

Anyone interested in joining an accelerator programme is welcome to do so. The application process is open, but highly competitive as the average application acceptance rate varies between 1% and 3%. Some incubators have an application process, but others only work with companies and ideas that they contact through trusted partners.

Accelerator programs usually have a set timeframe in which individual companies spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few months (usually three to six months) working with a group of mentors to grow their business. The timeframe for an incubator is usually longer and can go up to 3 years.

Early stage companies are typically given a small seed investment, and access to a large mentorship network, in exchange for a small amount of equity.

An opportunity for your city to shine on the International Sports City map

  • Support the local economic development through job creation, business opportunities and revenue generation
  • Position your city as a hub for sports innovations
  • Generate smart ideas in sport
  • Attract and retain young talents

Type of services a startup will benefit from

Accelerators and incubators both are “growth areas”, helping entrepreneurs in nurturing their businesses and ensuring their sustainability on the long run. To do so, a panel of services are offered to startups joining the different programmes, mainly:

Type of vertical markets covered

A vertical market is tightly focused on meeting the needs of one specific industry. A company serving a vertical market is focused on a single niche. Sports incubators and accelerators mostly cover:

  • Fan Engagement
  • Athlete development
  • Data Analytics
  • Smart Devices & wearables
  • Smart Venues
  • Event management
  • Media & Broadcasting
  • Gaming/Esport
  • Health & Ftiness

Funding Model

Incubators and accelerators can be financed through public funding, private funding or a mix of both. They are often sponsored by private companies or municipal entities and public institutions.

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