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How tech accelerator programmes are creating the next big things

The modern business has had to adapt. The typical ‘9am-5pm’ working day isn’t as common as it once was. Flexible working hours are more commonplace, and open office spaces are more conventional than ever before, with the memory of individual office cubicles being a thing of the past.

As a result of the changing times, business accelerators have also had to acclimatise and adapt to these needs. Offering a platform to showcase your start-up ideas in a shared learning environment, with mentors on-site and co-working spaces available, Worcestershire is now home to its first commercial tech accelerator, BetaDen, which is now currently recruiting for Cohort 2.0, a unique programme dedicated to entrepreneurs and technology businesses in developing new concepts and product solutions co-located with the region’s 5G Testbed project team.

BetaDen’s CEO and Founder, Linda Smith, discusses the benefits of tech accelerator programmes in more detail and how they offer essential support needed, specialising in speeding up the growth of start-up companies, through shared resources, professional expertise, and advice on-site.

Accelerator growth and services

Companies that are now recognised globally, such as Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit, have all started through accelerator programmes. These are great examples of business accelerators becoming a more appealing and efficient proposition to the corporate world, with companies no longer needing to rely on public or university funding. With a range of new programs, such as pre-accelerators, virtual incubation, and integrated co-working spaces readily available to SMEs and expanding businesses, the business accelerator package that can be offered is absolutely crucial to a scaling-up business which is striving to expand.

Of course, many accelerator schemes differ in what is offered. But the majority of services are centred around legal and financial advice, a networking framework to potential regional and national partners, and strategic guidance. This is also in line with the co-working space, meeting rooms, catering, telephone lines and virtual office services offered to businesses in what is an impressive and comprehensive package.

Adapting to new business times

A report from November 2018 stated that business accelerators in the UK invest £33 million annually in start-ups and growing businesses. The number of accelerator programmes in the UK is growing exponentially, with official agencies, institutions and governmental plans financing 41 per cent of accelerators.

With this in mind, companies are striving more than ever to stay as cutting-edge and up-to-date as possible when looking to be recruited for an accelerator. The last five years has seen huge amounts of accelerator growth, with incubators and accelerators supporting between 3,450 and 3,660 new businesses each year.

Tech accelerators want to help both new and up-and-running businesses achieve their goals through refining business models, gaining access to key customers and presenting opportunities to work with a top company. And in turn, businesses want to be as appealing and investable as possible to work with.

Boosting economy

London is the obvious source of accelerator programmes, with a thriving business hub. However, many organisations in cities around the world have seen the potential of creating their own accelerator programme. This is no more so than in the UK, which has established accelerators in cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Worcestershire and Bristol, with many more areas looking to become increasingly visible and viable in the not too distant future.

Just last year for example, Worcestershire was recognised as one of the UK’s best locations for starting up new businesses. It now has one of the fastest growing economies in the country, with 7,804 businesses formed in 2018. This has been helped by BetaDen, based in Malvern Hills Science Park. It’s a first-of-its-kind tech accelerator which launched its Cohort 1.0 programme in October last year, and now currently has six entrepreneurs in residence developing a range of next-generation technology solutions. 

Now recruiting for its Cohort 2.0 programme, the government has backed the next generation of communication in Worcester, with a £5 million, 5G boost. Lead by the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, new concepts and product solutions of entrepreneurs and technology businesses will now be co-located with the region’s 5G testbed project team.

Through being a successful accelerator, BetaDen, amongst a number of thriving tech accelerators throughout the country, will generate substantial gains for tenants, and look to step up participating companies to the next progressive level by attracting external investment, and in turn, increase sales. BetaDen sets itself apart by creating a route to market innovation pathway as part of a commercial science park network in Malvern.

Successful accelerator entries

Entry into an accelerator can be, and usually is, very competitive. The process can take a number of months for a business to be deemed successful.

But once you’ve been accepted, your company has the opportunity to thrive in an environment which is specifically designed to boost the likelihood of you attracting future finance. Accelerators themselves are a form of venture capital; it recruits companies who fit its model of investments. And with the right accelerator program, businesses can really be helped in avoiding pitfalls, be up to speed up on the learning process and have access to networks and facilities they might not necessarily have had the chance to be involved with.

With the facilities, resources, and assets available, accelerators offer businesses the perfect platform to scale up and develop the skills and expertise needed to grow as a business.

Ascertaining opportunities 

Being an intensive, constructive, support system to a competitively selected group of cohort firms, how can the effectiveness and success of an accelerator be measured? A number of factors could be deemed as success, but what are they?

Investor introductions – accelerators do a great job of providing face-to-face time and introductions to investors. Providing a quality pipeline of new companies from progressive cohorts, many investors look to ensure they attend accelerator events, as getting them all in the same place is a very rare and unique opportunity for companies.Validation – being selected by an accelerator can be a strenuous, thorough, and testing process. But once you are selected, as a company this can look to give you a strong advantage over your competitors.Peer support group – spending time with like-minded individuals is absolutely essential to help support and develop businesses who are looking to expand and grow, increase knowledge sharing, and provide meaningful support.Providing pressure in order to improve – accelerators want to push selected companies to enhance their skills as individuals, refine their business models and framework, and ultimately bring ideas to commercial reality.

Accelerators help businesses to steer clear of potential mistakes and provide an efficient and comprehensive support system. To an investor, being able to show that you were part of a respected accelerator increases your market value, widens your network and accelerates your growth. As a business therefore, chances of attracting investment has the potential to be significantly higher.

Linda Smith is Founder and CEO of BetaDen, Worcestershire’s first dynamic and ground-breaking commercial tech accelerator. They are now recruiting for Cohort 2.0, a unique programme dedicated to entrepreneurs and technology businesses in developing new concepts and product solutions co-located with the region’s 5G Testbed project team.

To find out more and apply, visit www.beta-den.com/apply or contact the team on 01905 672700

David Callaghan, BetaDenImage source: Shutterstock/gpointstudio

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