Accelerating Entrepreneurs and Ecosystems: The Seed Accelerator Model

Yael V. Hochberg

Chapter in NBER book Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 16 (2016), Josh Lerner and Scott Stern, editors (p. 25 - 51)
Conference held April 14, 2015
Published in March 2016 by University of Chicago Press
© 2016 by the National Bureau of Economic Research
in NBER Book Series Innovation Policy and the Economy

Recent years have seen the emergence of a new institutional form in the entrepreneurial ecosystem: the seed accelerator. These fixed-term, cohort-based, "boot camps" for startups offer educational and mentorship programs for startup founders, exposing them to wide variety of mentors, including former entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, and corporate executives; and culminate in a public pitch event, or "demo day," during which the graduating cohort of startup companies pitch their businesses to a large group of potential investors. In practice, accelerator programs are a combination of previously distinct services or functions that were each individually costly for an entrepreneur to find and obtain. The accelerator approach has been widely adopted by private groups, public and government efforts, and by corporations. While proliferation of accelerators is clearly evident, with worldwide estimates of 3000+ programs in existence, research on the role and efficacy of these programs has been limited. In this article, I provide an introduction to the accelerator model and summarize recent evidence on their effects on the regional entrepreneurial environment.

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