If there’s one thing European tech has no shortage of, it’s startup accelerators.
Every corner of the continent seems to have some — and today, for the first time, Sifted has compiled a database of more than 400 of them.
Accelerator programmes primarily offer a platform for first-time founders to gain advice, mentorship and financial support in the early days of their startup. Cohorts receive workshops, learning opportunities and, if they’re lucky, intros to relevant investors and mentors. They usually give the accelerators around 7% to 10% of their equity in exchange.
86% of Sifted readers who responded to our survey on accelerators told us they would recommend the experience to others.
However, not all of them get five star ratings: some Sifted readers said the “expert mentors” on their programme could have been a whole lot more expert. And, when we asked dozens of top tier VCs which accelerators they pay attention to, only Entrepreneur First and Y Combinator got more than a handful of votes.
There are, however, plenty of local and sector specialist accelerators playing a valuable role in boosting Europe’s startups. Here, we list more than 400 programmes submitted by Sifted readers and tidied up by Sifted analysts. If you think we’ve missed any, let us know.
Europe's startup accelerators
Location: In Europe: France; Germany; Netherlands; Nordics; Portugal; Spain; UK
Focus: Pre-launch, pre-idea and pre-seed teams, sector agnostic
The first Antler programme launched in January 2019, when 67 startups gathered in Stockholm, pitching in the hopes of securing $110k for 12% equity. Now, the accelerator has branched out into 18 locations across the world, with seven in Europe. It supports founders from the very early stages — sometimes even pre-idea, helping them match with cofounders.
Focus: Fintech, SaaS and deeptech
Through its accelerator scheme, Baltic Sandbox develops budding startups in the deeptech sector (plus fintech and SaaS). In 2022, it also ran a Women in Tech accelerator for the CEE region and a Silvertech programme focused on startups solving problems for older generations. It’s backed personalised pet food company Zenoo and yacht booking service SEARADAR.
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The accelerator has also recently developed a VC arm under the same name. This week, it announced it’s raised €10m of its first €13m early-stage deeptech fund — the first dedicated fund in the region.
Creative Destruction Lab
Location: In Europe: Oxford, Paris, Tartu and Berlin
Focus: Seed-stage science-based startups
Creative Destruction Lab runs intensive full-day sessions every eight weeks for its cohorts, led by mentors from a pool of exited founders, angel investors and VCs. It also consults academic experts to help teams with technical feedback, and turns to business school students for support with strategy. Alumni companies include yield forecasting platform ecoation and AI-powered quality inspection software DarwinAI.
Focus: Sector-agnostic, pre-seed for accelerator or pre-idea for incubators
After launching its programme in 2013, Demium launched a VC arm in 2020 and now invests from €150k in the pre-seed rounds of its cohorts (through a convertible note), up to €500k in follow-on rounds. The accelerator programme lasts six months, offering weekly online meetings with industry experts. It also runs eight incubators, where potential founders are matched up to create a startup within the programme.
Focus: Industry agnostic
Offering a campus-style community in an old hospital premises in Helsinki, Maria 01's space not only hosts startups, but also VCs, corporates and international investors, to connect founders with a valuable network within the coworking location. Members can access a range of programmes provided by corporate and venture capital partners, including the Arrow Cloud Innovation Factory programme for SaaS startups and the Microsoft For Startups Founders Hub.
Focus: Impact startups
Another non-profit, Norrsken focuses on teams building impact solutions and houses its coworking office in the grand halls of an old tram station. Teams apply for membership to the office as a space to work, and with that gain access to the company’s connections at VCs Fry, Nordea, Nordic Capital and PwC. The eight-week accelerator programmes in the Stockholm office give selected teams a pre-seed investment of $125k and mentorship from successful founders, culminating in an investor day to demo their ideas. It’s set to open a second European hub in Barcelona in 2023.
The world’s largest startup campus, Station F’s Paris location offers a range of programmes for startups to gain access to the coworking space. After a 2022 revamp, its flagship Founders Program 2.0 is now split into two batches, which each hosts up to 25 startups for six weeks of workshops, six weeks to work towards pitching and then 12 months to hone the idea before pitching again at the end of the period.
Other accelerators offered range from supporting founders at the idea stage to sector-specific programmes — including its dedicated six-month FemTech initiative. There are also a number of partners running programmes on site, including Facebook and L’Oreal, and a Fighters programme to boost selected founders from underprivileged backgrounds, who get free access to the campus for a year.
Focus: Various across 16 programmes
Focusing on French companies based in Greater Paris that were formed less than three years ago, Wilco provides a selection of 16 sector-specific programmes. Its goal over the three-year schemes is to take startups to their first million in annual turnover. Alumni of the accelerator include carpooling platform BlaBlaCar, tailored tour provider Evaneos and parking space rental service Yespark.
Focus: Pre-team and pre-idea founders
Zinc’s 12-month Venture Builder programme selects around 70 pre-idea, pre-team individuals to tackle a specific social mission, which changes with each programme and has financial backing from the London School of Economics. The 2023 programme will be looking for solutions to “transform people’s financial resilience.” Successfully founded businesses can receive up to £250k in investment.
Focus: Supporting teams to product market fit
This Berlin-based accelerator helps teams with an idea find validation for their concept over a five-month programme, offering €25k of funding without taking any equity. It’s supported by digihub Dusseldorf, an initiative dedicated to promoting innovation in the region.