Accelerating the UK

A free report on the UK’s startup accelerator programmes

Accelerators are a vital part of the UK’s early-stage company ecosystem, going from strength-to-strength in the last few years. We’ve analysed this network of programmes, and the companies that have been through them, to identify trends and future movements in the accelerator ecosystem.

Key findings
The number of accelerator attendances has increased by an average of 78% each year since 2014.
65% of the UK’s accelerators are found in London, with more accelerators in Shoreditch than any other area.
Companies that attend accelerators raise 44% more money than those that don’t. They are also 75% more valuable.
L Marks runs the most accelerator programmes, while companies who have attended Future Fifty  typically secure the most funding.
The European Regional Development Fund is the most frequent sponsor of accelerator programmes in the UK.

What is an accelerator?

Simply put, an accelerator offers programmes to help startups grow. The number of these programmes has grown dramatically in the last few years, with accelerators specialising in everything from niche verticals to a specific stage of company growth. We believe (and indeed our data shows) that attending an accelerator is a good indicator of a company’s potential to grow big and fast. But with such a wide variety of accelerators and related programmes like incubators, startup studios and co-working spaces, it can be difficult to tell which of these programmes are true indicators of future success. In order to validate the ambition and growth prospects of their participants, we believe an accelerator programme must meet the following criteria:
  • The duration is a set period of time
  • Over this period, the programme should have a clear structure
    (a syllabus, milestones, and/or events with required attendance)
  • The application process is competitive
  • No or minimal joining fees
This report looks at accelerator programmes that have met these criteria, and are based in the UK.

It is no surprise that an area priding itself on disrupting industries would experience disruption of its own. Nimble accelerators should continuously evolve to stay relevant — from specialising in a particular stage of growth of the startup process to entering emerging markets, and focusing on partnerships with corporations.

What size is the market?

Beauhurst has identified 186 accelerator programmes in the UK. These programmes are managed by 130 distinct organisations.  

number of accelerators

number of accelerator managers

number of recorded attendances

The number of accelerator attendances has increased significantly year-on-year since our records began in 2011, growing to a record 1,486 in 2017. With accelerators now such a popular option for young companies, awareness of accelerators among entrepreneurs has increased significantly. There is also a wide range of programmes available, with companies now able to be far more selective about the programmes they choose to join.

Less positively, there are fears about companies becoming “accelerator junkies”, jumping from programme to programme. CyLon, a cybersecurity specialist accelerator, raised concerns about this, admitting they aren’t keen on businesses who participated in more than two other ‘for equity’ accelerator programmes.

We’ll soon reach a point in the market where there’s not only a lot of choice but also a lot of diversity among accelerators, in terms of both specialism and stage of growth of the companies taking part.

Read the full report

See our complete analysis of the accelerator sector, including case studies and interviews with some of the key players and their alumni.

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