Creating a founder’s guide to European accelerator programs

We’re quite deep into writing the Startup Factories report for Nesta at the moment and while most of our research on the project has been looking at programs in the US, one of the interesting things is that we seem to hear of another program in Europe launching almost every week.

So we’ve decided that we’re going to add a founder’s guide to European accelerator programs. It won’t be a ranking like this one for the US accelerators because we don’t think there’s enough data but it will bring all the information that might be important to founders making a decision about which EU program to apply to into one place.

Just to recap, our definition of an accelerator program is one that:

  • Works with pre-seed stage companies – usually with small teams (2-4 people) of first time founders.
  • Is open but selective – they have some form of application process with expert judgement that picks the most promising companies.
  • Provides finance during the program – usually in the form of equity investment.
  • Is time bound – they have an intense period of support for companies that usually lasts for three months, although there is often some form of support beyond this period.
  • Supports teams in cohorts – they tend to take companies in batches to create peer support.
  • Has a heavy focus on mentoring – bringing in people from the local tech and business communities to help the companies
  • Has the aim of securing further funding for companies.

The ones we know of that fit that definition and will be running in EU countries in 2011 are:

Either drop me an email or pop a link in the comments below if there’s one we’ve missed and we’ll add them.

    • Miller471

      Oxygen link does not seem to work

    • I’ve popped links to the programs in the text now. 

    • James Cormack

      Hi Paul, I’ve just come across H-Farm, which runs a seed program with 3 months of mentorship, office space in Northern Italy, and other services, along with €30k funding and another funding round at the end.

    • James Cormack

      You could also consider e4f (Entrepreneurs for the Future) in Birmingham , run by Birmingham Science Park Aston.

      It’s open to innovative Digital Media and ICT companies at very least (it seems they might take Biotech, Clean Tech, Digital Media, Med Tech and Gaming companies too, but there’s conflicting information between and

      You get office space, mentors (, finance, showcase/investment days. The first 6 months are free, but you are then obliged to pay £594 to continue for the following 6 months (so 12 months total) (see

    • James Cormack

      (Apologies for the spam!) There’s also The Founder Institute , who run 4 month program – but it’s part-time, with once-a-week events held in the evenings.

      They have Autumn events in Paris and Berlin (see dropdown menu on the right of their screen).


      For 2012: note Startup Bootcamp is coming to Berlin and London

      And just for completeness, there was also The Difference Engine back at the start of 2011 ( ). Might run in 2012 I suppose.

    • Thanks so much James! Hadn’t heard of H-Farm so that’s really useful. I think e4f is basically turning into Oxygen Accelerator from this year. We’re big fans of the Founder Institute but they don’t quite fit our definition. We’re in touch with The Difference Engine and waiting to hear whether it’s going to run again.

    • James Cormack

      Fantastic! I didn’t realise e4f was becoming Oxygen so that’s useful to hear (looks like a great programme by the way), and yeah, that makes sense regarding the Founder Institute. I’ll keep an eye on The Startup Factories, and for any more programmes that might fit your definition.