A business accelerator is a program that gives developing companies access to mentorship, investors and other support that help them become stable, self-sufficient businesses.
Companies that use business accelerators are typically start-ups that have moved beyond the earliest stages of getting established. They have basically entered their “adolescence,” meaning they can stand on their own two feet but need guidance and peer support to gain strength. Less developed companies not ready for an accelerator would instead use a business incubator for support.
In addition to mentorship and investment opportunities, a business accelerator gives growing companies access to logistical and technical resources as well as shared office space. An accelerator will also connect companies to networks of peers whose experience they can learn from.
An accelerator program can last anywhere from two to six months. The goal is for companies to emerge ready to run on their own, with strong positioning to claim a share of their target markets.
More about business accelerators
There are two main kinds of business accelerators:
- Seed programs last two to four months and focus on less mature start-ups, building up their business fundamentals before giving them the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors.
- Second-stage programs last up to six months and focus on more mature start-ups, connecting them to the full range of support and opportunities.
Accelerators are often organized by sector or region. Some Canadian examples include:
- The Natural Resources Canada Innovation Acceleration Centre in Ottawa, Ontario which is a seed accelerator for early stage companies in a wide variety of sectors.
- The Innovacorp Technology Innovation Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, which connects young technology companies to support networks.
- FounderFuel in Montreal, Quebec, which provides structured and unstructured mentoring and coaching as well as funding over a four-month residency program.