UK start-ups to be supported by a boost in incubators and accelerators

New study by Nesta provides insights into the incubator and accelerator landscape in the UK, as start-ups look to capitalise.

New research from the innovation foundation Nesta for the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy seeks insights into the network of incubators and accelerators across the UK that is aiming to help more start-ups get off the ground and survive the early stages of growth.

This work complements the work of the government’s Industrial Strategy which aims to support job creation, regional development, innovation and economic growth.

Business Incubators and Accelerators: The National Picture, published today in conjunction with a directory of incubators and accelerators in the UK, finds 205 incubators, 163 accelerators, 11 pre-accelerators, seven virtual accelerators and four virtual incubators are currently active in the UK.

Accelerators are defined as highly selective, fixed duration programmes that run in cohorts, typically growth-based with a focus on services (eg. mentorship, entrepreneurial training) over physical space. Incubators are typically less selective, open ended in duration and are generally rent/ fee-based and focused on physical space over services.

There is a trend towards more accelerators being established outside of London in Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester, while incubators are spread relatively evenly throughout the UK. The vast majority of accelerator programmes in Nesta’s database have been created since 2011, and just over half of incubator programmes were created during the same period.

Chris Haley, head of new technology and startup research at Nesta, comments, ‘Startups are important agents of innovation and play a vital role in new job creation. Unfortunately, many good firms fail to thrive and scale. Mapping the landscape of existing startup support, including accelerators and incubators, helps entrepreneurs find assistance and is an important step in building a more favourable environment for young businesses in the UK.

‘It is interesting to see increasing levels of corporate involvement in accelerators – large companies have many different resources which can be of value to startups, including mentoring, industry insight and routes to market.’

Further reading on start-ups

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the