Master Thesis insights: Benchmarking Corporate Accelerators

When a student asks us to answer some questions for a master thesis we always ask back for some insights on why she or he has chosen this specific topic. And we learn a lot when we talk to them. Thank you Markus Knobloch, studying Management in Lissabon, for sharing your thoughts with us on ‚Benchmarking Corporate Accelerators‘!

In 2005, the first Seed Accelerator, Y Combinator, was created by ex-venture capitalists seeking to improve the startup ecosystem and simultaneously increase their return on investment. Their model was a hit, leading to an explosion of incubators and accelerators. Then, in the 2010s, corporates started entering the scene with 71 Corporate Accelerators recorded in the Corporate Accelerator Data Base by 2016. The motives of the corporates for this move are diverse, with most of them pursuing this path to either build an investment portfolio of startups or to collaboratively develop pilots that satisfy their innovation needs.

When it comes to setting up a corporate acceleration program, corporations have two options: They can either develop a program by themselves or enlist in the help of a specialized third party.

The latter can build a dedicated program for each corporate, or enable access to an existing program with multiple corporations as partners.

This is where my journey into the world of corporate accelerators starts. I am writing my Master’s Thesis in the scope of a consulting project for a Lisbon-based accelerator builder called Beta-i. Beta-i is one of a handful of companies that specializes in building accelerator programs. Because this space is quite small and the available information is limited, I find it interesting to explore the offers on the market to date.

With my thesis, I aim not only to provide an overview of the programs offered by companies like Beta-i, Techstars, Plug and Play, Boomtown, Pioneers, etc. but also to dissect their methodology and structure with a concluding benchmarking study.

My progress so far has been slower than anticipated. To be honest, my timing was also quite off, making it hard to win interview partners right when COVID started to unfold and accelerators were busy moving their programs online. Nevertheless, with increased effort, I was able to secure a decent number of interviews. This is also how I came into contact with the next-incubator. With their involvement in the Plug and Play Energy acceleration program, they were able to convey the corporate client’s perspective to me.

If you are interested in finding out about the future results of my research, or if you have some experience yourself and want to chat with me, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Sunny regards from Lisbon, and stay healthy everyone!

Markus Knobloch

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