The Multi-Dimensional Impacts of Business Accelerators: What does the research tell us?

June 2022

The multi-dimensional impacts of business accelerators

Over the last two decades, business accelerators, fixed-term, cohort-based support programmes for early-stage entrepreneurs have proliferated globally. Funded by a mix of private investors and governments, these ‘schools for entrepreneurs’ offer capability-building programmes that include training and networking, and sometimes funding to competitively selected participants. Accelerators can improve participants’ performance and have broader effects on entrepreneurial ecosystems. They can close funding and capability gaps for participating businesses, and given their emphasis on selecting the most promising entrepreneurs, they often serve as a form of quality assurance,signalling their participants’ potential to the market and to the founders themselves. They can also attract investors and talent to their respective regions, thereby setting in motion a virtuous cycle of entrepreneurship and venture capital that also benefits non-participants.

Practitioners and academic researchers studying business accelerators have produced a substantial number of studies on accelerators. The online scholastic archive Social Science Research Network (SSRN), for instance, lists almost 800 entries on the topic since 2005, with over two-thirds of the posts dated 2018 or later.

This vast body of work is fragmented, however. And critical insights on the effects business accelerators have on the economy remain in disciplinary silos, so researchers in disparate disciplines—ranging from finance to entrepreneurship and business strategy—may be unaware of work published outside their own disciplinary outlets. Furthermore, most research on the topic is specific to a particular research area—training programmes for entrepreneurs in developing countries, for example.

This review aims to bridge the disciplinary divides in order to take stock of the literature on the multi-dimensional impacts of business accelerators and to advance a guide for future research.

Client: IKEA Social Entrepreneurship

Authors: Juanita Gonzalez-Uribe & Ouafaa Hmaddi

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