Top Startup Incubators in the World and a deep-dive Focus on Frankfurt.
The world’s most successful startups have at one time in their life-cycle had the backing of a startup incubator. These incubators have been the accelerators who have provided a good breeding ground for the startups and helped them fine-tune their ideas into the giant businesses they are today. The incubators have provided access to a working space, investment, mentorship, and much more. In this article, we feature some of the most prolific and best-known incubators and accelerators around the globe. If you are a Startup entrepreneur you will specifically find this article very useful as you will know where to go look for help.
TechStars is the pioneers of, “Startup Weekend” their offerings go beyond the traditional show-up, eat some food, meet some successful people’s action. They have a series of programs spanning 15 countries with a big focus on passion-driven startups. Techstars has incredible mentors, who dedicate in most cases a minimum of 12 weeks per year to program participants. This ensures that with every amazing graduate of the program, there is an infinite amount of new applications for the following cycle (usually four per year). TechStars has over 1600 launched companies in the market and at least a quarter of them focused on social impact.
The Hult Prize Foundation was founded in 2009 by leading social entrepreneur Ahmad Ashkar, this organization has a ten-year head start on nearly everyone else in the impact startup space with a workforce of more than 25,000 students spread out across 2,000 or so universities in more than 100 countries and an official global partnership with the United Nations. It is home to the world’s largest accelerator program that welcomes early-stage startups from every corner of the world. Top investments exceed US$1,000,000 and annual participation topped 250,000 in 2019 with an alumni community north of two million people. Notable alumni include Aspire Food Group, BuuPass, and IMPCT Coffee.
This is one of the most famous incubators in the world. Their seed funding program has more unicorns than any other. Their recent addition of free online content for entrepreneurs puts them at the top. One of the most impressive things that Y Combinator offers is its extensive alumni of startups such as Airbnb, Dropbox, and Twitch as well as its celebrity speakers like Mark Zuckerberg, who regularly engage with the startup community.
500 Startups is a young but promising incubator. It admitted its first class of startups into its pilot California incubator in 2011. While primarily focused on early-stage venture and seed funding, their aim is to discover (self-proclaimed), “the world’s most talented entrepreneurs” with as much a focus on ecosystems, as on enterprise. 500 Startups have the ability to ignite the impact space ecosystem with a vengeance. They lead in founder diversity in both nationality and gender, these guys get the crown for the most rogue and robust of the batch.
Wayra was originally launched in 2011 out of Colombia, It is a mega global hub that has a presence in 10 countries around the world. It is backed by Telefonica, one of Latin America’s and Europe’s largest telecommunications companies. Wayra is easily the largest impact accelerator in Latin America. It has gone well beyond CSR and is a fundamental impact maker, specifically within the job creation and youth unemployment sectors, and as a result, has gracefully gained its place in our list.
This accelerator program is unique in both it’s methodology as well as it’s access to international markets along with it’s exclusive focus on impact. While Changelabs is a relative newcomer in the space, it is currently focused on one of the fastest-growing and under-served markets in the world, the Middle East. It has assembled a seasoned team with decades of experience and a mentor community that includes founders and investors of leading companies and accelerators. It’s no surprise that they are providing some of the largest funding available in the region at LE 2,000,000 given they are backed by an A-list of international partners that would make any founding team jealous including Amazon, the Dutch Development Bank, the European Union, and Blom Bank. Its first cohort in Egypt offers an impact solution to job creation and youth unemployment in one of the largest Arab populations in the world at around 100 million people.
Halcyon is strategically located in the development capital of the world, Washington, DC. It has positioned itself to have a sustainable global impact across all corners of the world. The Halcyon House offers impact and social entrepreneurs an epicenter in the heart of DC where they live, work, learn, and of course play. From their intensive summer programs that can last as little as 7-days to 14-days, all the way to the more sought after 5-month fellowship program that includes free housing, all of Halcyon’s activities are centered around community, art, and activism.
Born in Zambia, this company was one of Africa’s first innovation and technology hubs focused on young people with a mission of changing the world.BongoHive is simply a game-changer for the African continent. Based in Lusaka, the group of founders built their first accelerator to address the learning gaps they experienced in university and at their first jobs. The aim at startup was to have a better way to design programming to enhance soft skills and impact attributes along with idea cultivation and the deployment of capital. Today, BongoHive has evolved into a multi-tiered human capital acceleration company, cultivating and training the continent’s future innovators through a number of programs including boot camps, pre-accelerators, accelerators, a learning academy, and shared work-space. They have an incredible team of locals who believe not only in their home base of Zambia but in the future of their entire continent.
Founded in 2011, described as, “The World’s Toughest Entrepreneurs” and dedicated to providing economic equalizing opportunities, this accelerator is rapidly solving a local youth unemployment challenge that is amongst the worst in the world. It is based in Gaza, Palestine in the Middle East. Annual programs include everything from full-stack code development boot camps to on-campus university tech training and a feature-packed coworking space. Recent additions include an agency that virtually deploys alumni into digital and tech positions all over the world. Backed by international organizations like Mercy Corps, Google, and Techstars the world of impact could not be happier with the continued growth and success of this game-changing accelerator.
Mainstage Incubator was founded with the vision of creating bi-directional innovation bridges between startup ecosystems globally. It started off with Germany — India but soon became a global network of Ecosystems. Their main aim is to enable Startups to scale faster into new markets through their 3C-Model (Culture, Contacts & Cooperation) while building multi-national links around the world.
They are well known for helping startups with customer acquisition, access to Business Angels & Venture Capital Firms, Access to an Expert Mentor Network & Government Partnerships.
Focus on Frankfurt
Frankfurt is an important hub in Germany, one of Europe’s strongest economies. As a major financial center, Frankfurt is only increasing in importance in the post-Brexit era. Frankfurt has over 250 000 corporates and thousands of hidden champions. Not only is Frankfurt a hotspot for banks, investors, and international corporations, it also has a thriving startup scene and many talents with great ideas who want to start their own companies. Opportunities abound both on the customer and the investor side, while B2B clients, banks, and financial institutions are ready to run proofs of concept. This is where Startup incubators such as accelerator frankfurt, Plug and Play, and Founder institute come into play greatly:
Their unique go-to-market program accelerates B2B software startups in the fields of Fintech, Regtech, Cybersecurity, Insuretech, Proptech, and Blockchain. The startups receive mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and investors, consulting and professional services, in addition to a co-working space. The goal of the program is to help startups win customers and raise funding. The 3-month program ends with a demo-day, where the startups pitch to corporates to secure proofs of concept and investors to raise follow-up funding.
They provide investment opportunities for investors looking for stable innovation businesses and connect them with the most promising startups. For corporations, they offer services that bring innovative approaches of the startup world to companies who want to become innovative leaders in their industries.
The Founder Institute Frankfurt
The Founder Institute is among the world’s largest pre-seed startup accelerator, having helped launch over 4,500 companies across 225+ cities and six continents.
The company was founded in 2009 by serial entrepreneur Adeo Ressi and his colleague, Jonathan Greechan. The idea for the program spawned from operating TheFunded.com, where it became apparent that most entrepreneurs at the idea and launch stages lacked the structure, feedback, and support network needed to be successful.
Main Incubator is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Commerzbank. The company is headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. As Research & Development Unit of the Commerzbank Group, Main incubator deals with future topics and emerging technologies such as blockchain, big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, biometrics, robotics, virtual reality, cloud, open API, wearables, IoT, and quantum computing. Through strategic investments in tech-driven start-ups, Main incubator participates in innovations and makes them available for Commerzbank and its customers. By developing own prototypes Main incubator is proactively shaping innovations and is thus a strong partner for Commerzbank on its way to a digital technology company. By promoting the FinTech ecosystem and the monthly “Between the Towers” series of events Main incubator pursues the goal of identifying innovations at an early stage.
Plug and Play is among the ultimate innovation platform in the world and not only Frankfurt, bringing together the best startups and the world’s largest corporations. Their accelerator Programs are industry themed to ensure that their startups and corporate partners make the most meaningful connections for their business. They empower specific business units by pin-pointing their business challenges and matching them to startups with the right solutions. They invest in over 250 startups a year and have connections to 300 of the world’s best VCs. If you’re looking to raise a round, Plug and Play have the perfect ecosystem for you to do it.
Best Ten Startup Incubators in the World With a Special Focus on Frankfurt. was originally published in FrankfurtValley on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.