The maps come from a report which reveals the UK’s accelerators and incubators provide £33 million annually in startup investment.
The first comprehensive map showing the spread of accelerators and incubators throughout the country reveals funding from corporations is driving rapid UK growth.
Across the British Isles, the map pinpoints 205 incubators and 163 accelerators supporting an estimated 3,450, and 3,660 new businesses a year respectively. These provide £33 million annually in startup investment, according to the Business Incubators and Accelerators: The National Picture, produced by innovation foundation Nesta for the Department for Business Innovations and Industrial Strategy.
Head of startups and new technology research at Nesta, and one of the authors of the report, Christopher Haley, told WIRED that the growth of accelerators has been increasing since Seedcamp launched in London in 2007. Forty five new accelerators were created in 2016 alone.
“I think until fairly recently accelerators were perceived to be newcomers not having a huge impact but what we’ve found is they’re on par with incubators,” he said. “Growth of accelerators is definitely being driven by corporate funding because they look for ways to innovate and in which to solve issues they have internally.”
On the other hand, incubators – physical spaces that offer training, networks and specialist equipment to entrepreneurs in return for rent and membership fees – are more reliant on public or university funding.
Other trends found in the report include “very rapid growth in the number of programs and facilities; an expansion of incubators and accelerators outside London; a rise of corporate accelerators and a diversification of models.”
Haley says there have been attempts to map the landscape before but it’s proved difficult because it’s such a rapidly changing scene. He hopes this data set will be useful. “[To] entrepreneurs themselves who want to find an accelerator or incubator locally or in their field, to researchers and people with an interest in entrepreneurship, and policy makers who could use this data and question whether they need to do more to improve support in a local area.”
He continued that the report additionally raises questions and areas for further research. “There’s unanswered questions about what works for what types of programs for what type of company and also when we’ll reach saturation point. We haven’t answered that yet. And there’s questions around the extent to which an accelerator can actually stimulate more demand for their service”.