The Impact of Business Accelerators and Incubators in the UK

October 2019

The Impact of Business Accelerators and Incubators in the UK

The number of business incubators and accelerators in the UK has grown rapidly over the last few years. This growth has been facilitated by public funding. It is estimated that between £20-30 million of public funding (UK and EU) is being spent on UK incubators and accelerators per year. Despite this, relatively little robust evidence exists regarding their impact.

In this study, the authors explore how incubators and accelerators impact the startups they support and investigate which types of support (e.g. provision of workspace, mentoring, funding or training) drive this impact. They also examine how incubators and accelerators may impact the wider business ecosystems in which they belong.

This report will:

  • Explore previous literature on the impact of accelerators and incubators, both on the startups they support and on the broader business ecosystem;
  • Produce new evidence concerning the impact of accelerators on startups;
  • Examine the key objectives of UK accelerators and incubators, and what barriers they face in reaching these objectives;
  • Determine which types of support offered by incubators and accelerators add the most value to participating startups;
  • Produce a ‘theory of change’ which explains how these types of support make their impact;
  • Explore what effect UK incubators and accelerators have on their broader business ecosystem; and
  • Investigate how Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Growth Hubs interact with or support accelerators and incubators in their region, and how these interactions help both parties reach their objectives.

Client: Nesta

End client: Department of Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS)

Authors: Jonathan Bone & Christopher Haley (Nesta), Juanita Gonzalez-Uribe (LSE) & Henry Lahr (The Open University), with assistance from Henry Whorwood & Jake Ford (Beauhurst)

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