UK startup accelerators and incubators are ideal for anyone wanting to establish their business.

Why?

They provide key resources such as office space and advice, plus access to essential individuals like investors and clients, which all contribute to a startup’s success.

It can be tough to figure out which accelerator programme or incubator is right for your startup, and the process of applying can be even more daunting.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best incubators and accelerators in the UK.

What’s the difference between startup accelerators and startup incubators?

Early-stage startups receive funding, mentoring, and training from both startup accelerators and incubators. The goal of an incubator is to support startups and smaller businesses to achieve success.

An accelerator programme is a shorter version of an incubator. It’s typically three to six months long with more focus on structure and accountability whereas an incubator can be up to two years.

Before joining an incubator program, answer these questions first:

  • Does the program have an appropriate adviser for you and your industry?
  • Do you need prompt funding that an accelerator programme can provide or distinct help that only an incubator can give?

Startups that have a product or MVP in the market can utilize accelerators to help them grow and expand.

In other words, these programs allow startups to accomplish two years’ worth of work in only some months.

Keep in mind that not every startup is qualified for an accelerator program. Prior to applying to one, mull over the following questions:

  • Is it a good moment to apply?
  • How quickly are you increasing?
  • Would you be willing to move your business elsewhere?

What does a startup incubator offer?

There is a range of benefits to joining a startup incubator program, including mentorship and coaching from experienced industry professionals, funding opportunities, office space, and access to networks of investors and customers.

Whether you’re just starting out or want to grow your existing business, a startup incubator can provide the resources you need to succeed.

So if you’re ready to take your business to the next level, consider applying for startup incubators.

The key differences between accelerators and incubators

  • Duration: The key difference between incubators and accelerators is that incubators don’t function on a set timeline, while accelerators do (3 to 4 months).
  • Purpose: Startups in their early stages are supported by incubators, while accelerators help existing companies to grow.
  • Application process: Local startups often rely on incubators and accelerators to help them get off the ground. Incubators put time and funds into advancing these businesses, whereas accelerators traditional and conventional models for registering into their programs.
  • Environment: It’s easy to see how incubators and accelerators are similar: they both offer collaborative, supportive environments with mentorship.
  • Investment capital: Startups receive a certain amount of capital from accelerators in exchange for a share of equity. In contrast, incubators do not provide startups with funding and are instead sponsored by universities or organizations focused on economic development.

The ecosystem of startups in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom boasts the largest startup ecosystem in all of Europe, despite tumultuous events such as Brexit and the outbreak of COVID-19.

With a total value of 142.7 trillion dollars, it’s no wonder that local investors are some of the most active ones around.

Furthermore, it’s common knowledge that the UK government is especially supportive of tech companies.

They allow these businesses to grow and establish themselves in the market through a variety of incentive programs offered to young entrepreneurs.

Questions you should answer before moving to your business venture

Before you move forward with your business venture, make sure to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I in need of funding?
  • Do I have a well-rounded idea, or do I require help developing it further?
  • Do I know how to plan and execute its growth? If not, hiring someone who does could be a game-changer
  • Do I have the right team in place to bring this vision to life?
  • Which program can provide me with the best mentors for my startup idea?

Tips to join a startup accelerator programme or incubator

Now that you have knowledge of how these startup incubators and accelerators work, follow these tips to join:

Step 1: Do your research on the various incubators and accelerators near you.

Step 2: Submit an application to your top pick(s).

Step 3: Go through the assessment process with each organization.

Step 4: Interview a representative from each group you are still interested in working with.

Step 5: Check out reviews or ask around for opinions on which organization would be the best fit for you.

Step 6: Pick the program you want to join and get started!

What you should know in order to pick the best incubator for your startup

To find the best incubation program for your business, determine which aspects are most important to you and look for a program that excels in those areas.

Some entrepreneurs might prioritize access to funding opportunities, while others may prefer programs with pre-established networks.

What you should know in order to pick the best accelerator programme for your startup

When you’re looking for a startup accelerator, it’s important that they have some understanding of your business or industry so they can help you grow holistically.

The perfect one will also depend on what phase of development your company is in and which sector it falls under.

When collaborating with an accelerator, pay attention to their farsighted goals to see if they match yours.

Although there are many things to consider when choosing an accelerator, the most significant factor is its focus or specialty.

The accelerator’s focus will determine what type of mentorship and resources you’ll have access to.

For example, if you’re looking for an accelerator programme that specializes in working with businesses in your industry offering similar products or services, then you should look into their track record of success first and foremost.

Investing in the right accelerator programme will pay dividends down the road by furthering your academic and personal growth, leading to a more successful business.

When you’re considering applying to a startup accelerator, do your research to see how they can help you reach new levels of success.

Best UK startup Accelerators and Incubators

Seedcamp

Founded in 2007 by a group of 30 European investors, Seedcamp has become one of the best UK startup accelerators.

As an investment and advising program, Seedcamp helps entrepreneurs turn their innovative ideas into reality.

Seedcamp is an organization that helps startup entrepreneurs find the most active seed investors.

They not only provide free standardized legal documents for all to use through Seedsummit.org but also host events in over 30 cities worldwide.

Pre-seed funding applications are accepted 4 times a year.

Seedcamp is a European Acceleration Fund that offers up to 75,000 EURO for pre-seed stage businesses and up to €200k for seed stage businesses.

Notable Seedcamp alumni include Monese, Bloomsbury AI, Revolut, Pleo, TransferWise, UiPath, and Trussle.

Entrepreneur First

Located in London, the “highly-selective” Entrepreneur First program runs for three months and is present in 6 cities worldwide.

The target is on mentoring and advising founders and connecting them with other entrepreneurs in the group to support them find their ideal co-founders.

Technology-based companies are most likely to be invested in by Entrepreneur First. They don’t simply invest in any company; their portfolio consists of those with the greatest potential for impact.

Being associated with experienced individuals and successful companies is an opportunity that they offer, one which allows startups room to grow. £80,000 is what they wheel out for a measly 10% equity stake.

Climate-KIC Pathfinder Programme

The Climate-KIC initiative from the EU is designed to support and develop climate-related technologies in order to combat climate change.

The Pathfinder program is designed to help biotech and clean tech companies with solutions to climate change.

– Up to €50,000 in grant form

– Standard program duration for the Climate-KIC Pathfinder Programme is 3 – 6 months

Startupbootcamp

To date, Startupbootcamp has given a start to 950+ businesses.

With their headquarter in London, they have an extensive global network of accelerators spanning 20 countries.

The program which lasts for 3 months provides access to sector-specific mentors and advisors who offer guidance throughout the journey.

You will also get opportunities to connect with different members of your group during this time period.

Startup Bootcamp has partnered with big names like Mastercard and Lloyds Bank to provide access to APIs, exposure, and a network of experts for early FinTech startups.

Each team chosen will receive 15,000 pounds in cash as well as 4 months of free office space at Rainmaking Loft.

Startups’ insurance technology is their focus and they look for teams who are in the early stages of working toward success in this field.

Bethnal Green Ventures

BGV was established in 2012 and has so far, given life to 166 startups.

Centered on “Tech for Good”, they only assist startups with a positive social influence globally.

Bethnal Green Ventures is an incubator and VC fund based in London that focuses on early-stage companies.

These companies use technology with the aim of tackling social and environmental problems to better the lives of millions.

Bethnal Green Ventures provides £20,000 in exchange for 6% equity to startups.

They offer mentorship programs, workshops, workspace, and entrance to investors and industry experts.

Techstars London

Out of the 3500 startups that Techstars has helped globally, 119 come from London.

If a startup is accepted into the program, they are promised $100 000 and have their living expenses paid for while they go through the training.

In return, Techstars gets 6% equity when the startup accepts the desired funds.

Barclays Accelerator

Barclays Accelerator programme is always on the lookout for fintech startups to invest in.

If your startup is selected, you could receive £120,000 in funding and a 6% equity stake.

In addition, selected startups will have access to exclusive workshops and events that other non-selected companies don’t have access to.

CyLon

Cylon is an ideal choice for entrepreneurs and startups in the cybersecurity industry.

They focus on working with startups that have a minimum viable product, and they are committed to securing the digital space with innovative ideas.

For an investment of £15,000, you would get 3% equity in the company.

CyLon provides training, workshops, and mentoring to its investors.

In addition, accelerators can help you validate your ideas and connect with industry leaders.

Platform-X

Platform-X exists to help tech startups make a meaningful difference in the market.

We focus on working with startups that are innovative and have the potential to disrupt their respective markets.

If you’re a startup that is looking for support and funding, we want to hear from you!

If startups invest 25 million pounds with no equity, they can develop their go-to-market strategy and product validation.

They will also receive mentorship from Virgin Group leaders and experts together with access to Virgin’s working space.

The Bakery

The Bakery focuses on tech startups, like most accelerators and incubators.

They help those with innovative ideas, early-stage startups, and companies that could potentially disrupt the market.

They have 3 different programs: the start program, the partner program, and the accelerate program. Funding/duration: £50,000 for 5%. The Bakery program lasts 8 Weeks.

Founders factory

Founders Factory builds and funds startups together with exceptional entrepreneurs and the world’s leading companies.

Founders Factory’s Venture Studio co-founds businesses from inception, developing new ideas, technologies and business models into high growth companies.

They operate sector-focused accelerator programmes and Venture Funds for Pre-Seed and Seed stage startups, investing in talented and diverse founding teams across industries and geographies – with a current focus on FinTech, Health, Climate, Media & Telecoms, Consumer and Web3.

Since 2015, Founders Factory’s 300 portfolio companies have raised $720mm follow-on funding from notable investors, including NFX, Coatue, Forerunner, Tencent and firstminute Capital.

Conclusion on these UK startup accelerators and incubators

There’s no easy answer to choosing the right business incubator.

Instead, it’s about evaluating all your options and finding a solution that works best for your business.

Making the decision of which startup accelerator programme to choose for your company is not going to be simple.

Although nothing worth having ever is easy to obtain, this is especially true in the business world. If you’re looking to get your foot in the door of top London incubators, these are the list.

Local capital in the UK is investing heavily in startups, and many startups are choosing to set up shop in the UK because of its supportive environment. This makes the UK a desirable place for entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life.

However, with this cheat sheet, you will be able to intelligently choose which among those programs available perfectly aligns with your business plans and goals by narrowing down options.

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I'm the manager behind the Upcut Studio team. I've been involved in content marketing for quite a few years helping startups grow.