A study on deep-tech business accelerators published

Commissioned by SmartCap, at the end of 2023 EY conducted a study to identify internationally recognized deep-tech business accelerators, compare them, as well as analyse critical elements of their success and activities offered to startups after completing the acceleration program. The results of the study contribute to the development of the Estonian ecosystem.

The study found that several critical ecosystem elements are essential to ensure the success of business accelerators. In addition to mentorship, they need accessible infrastructure and other resources, such as labs, innovation parks, and networks of large corporations and investors, to support the technological and business goals of growing startups.

Among the sampled accelerators, health technology was the most popular sector, followed by artificial intelligence and climate technology. This demonstrates the ability of accelerators to quickly adapt to international market trends and needs. The study also highlights that, on average, each startup in an accelerator should be supported by 4-12 people, contributing to the program’s functionality, and providing sufficient support to participants.

The analysis also shows, among other things, that alumni programs are a crucial part of accelerator activities, helping to maintain a strong community, increase alumni engagement, and provide ongoing value to startups. Such programs often include various events, mentorship opportunities, and offer the use of network resources and knowledge, allowing alumni to continue benefit from their accelerator participation and maintain strong connections with their former program peers, guides, and mentors.

The study emphasizes that, in the constantly evolving field of deep-tech, accelerators must be flexible, innovative, and adaptable to global developments to achieve success: whether through flexible participation fees, by providing high-level development services, or organizing programs virtually or in hybrid formats, being influenced by the global pandemic.

The sample of the study included 10 business accelerators, of which 4 operated using a private funding model, 2 using a public funding model, and 4 using a combination of both. Combined funding involves private investors as well as public financing.

The study was conducted under the auspices of SmartCap within the Startup Estonia program, and the activities were funded by the European Regional Development Fund under project EU60971. The study (in Estonian language) is available here.