The verticalization of accelerators

Image | European startup accelerators according to Startupxplore

2005 saw the creation of the first startup accelerator in history, Y Combinator (YC). YC broke ground by offering seed investments along with the traditional services of a business incubator. Its chosen projects receive office space, management advice, connections with investors and seed capital to grow much faster than they could on their own.

Today Y Combinator is among a large number of accelerators in the international startup ecosystem. There are approximately 170 accelerators in the world according to Techcrunch, and 94 in Europe alone, according to the website If we include incubators that don’t provide seed funding, there are 330 in Spain according to Startupxplore, and almost 3,000 in the world according to AngelList.

The growth of accelerators has followed two main trends:

  • The slow-down in the creation of accelerators. This has been seen in regions where there isn’t a critical mass of workers or sufficient start-up ideas to drive an acceleration program.
  • The proliferation of specialized accelerators focused on a particular sector.

The verticalization of accelerators

Image | f6s

London provides a clear example of the latter: if the Canary Wharf area is like a second “city” for the financial sector, why not incubate financial technology projects there, closer to their potential clients and partners? This is what Level39, an acccelerator that launched in March 2013, is seeking to do in the hot new “Fintech” sector. An important part of Level 39’s role is to provide contact with investors. It’s not difficult, thanks to the accelerator’s level of specialization. Those who know the market and want to put their money into local Fintech projects know where to go.

Similar accelerators also exist in Spain. Conector is an accelerator for the “telecommunications, internet-technology, media and entertainment” sectors (TIME, for short). Its founder Carlos Blanco also recently announced via Twitter that he plans to launch a spin-off that will center on gaming. Conector Games will be the first of several vertical accelerator projects (mobile or e-commerce, among others) for those seeking partners.

It’s not the only specialized accelerator in Spain. We’ve already highlighted 10 accelerators that promote innovation in the health sector, such as Moebio. But there are several others focused on other sectors as well. For example, GameBcn, which came out of Incubio, was sponsored by the Catalan Institute for Cultural Businesses. Another example is Startupbootcamp’s Internet of Things and Big Data accelerator that it recently opened in Barcelona with the help of partners from major companies in the industry like Intel, Yahoo, Cicsco, Telefonica and Oracle. Both GameBcn and Startupbootcamp are part of MWC’s mStartup initiative.

These accelerators all concentrate projects from a particular sector in a place where they receive specialized training and connections with investors and companies interested in them. It’s a trend that many see as the future of accelerators.

Mobile World Capital Barcelona promotes entrepreneurship as a catalyst for mobile innovation and as a key agent for the progress of the economy and business community. The Programme of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (PEI) is currently one of the foundation's main efforts, and is meant to accelerate this transformation.

The PEI’s activities include 4 Years From Now (4YFN), an international mobile entrepreneurship event sponsored by Mobile World Capital Barcelona to place supply and demand in contact, promote knowledge transfer, and encourage networking among entrepreneurs, professionals, startups, accelerators, incubators and investors from around the world.

Mobile World Capital presents a global vision that effectively integrates mobile technologies into the fabric of the industries transforming our lives. Committed to expanding the mobile experience throughout Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain with strong support of the public and private sector.

Mobile World Capital is leading mobile transformation through commitments in Competence Centres, local Industry Development, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation programmes.

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