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Expanding Acceleration Ecosystems 

Target group(s): Business-acceleration providers such as incubators, accelerators, company-builders, innovation agencies, business clubs and networks, regional public authorities and educational institutions.

Incubators, accelerators and different types of ‘company-builders’ play a crucial role in providing start-ups with growth support. Due to the diverse innovation landscape in Europe, start-ups from better-connected innovation ecosystems benefit from more local accelerators with greater funding opportunities and more qualified business support services compared to their counterparts elsewhere[[Although there is no credible benchmarking study on Europe's accelerators, most worldwide or European rankings do not include accelerators from Europe’s less connected ecosystems, e.g. DispatchedEurope and Crunchbase. ]]. This geographical gap often requires start-ups from less connected ecosystems to move to more established hubs elsewhere in Europe[[Startup Heatmap Europe, 2019,]]. Consequently, there are fewer scale-ups in less connected innovation ecosystems, creating unbalanced business activity and employment opportunities. The Expanding Acceleration Ecosystems should reverse this flow by making ‘modest’ and ‘moderate’ innovation ecosystems more attractive to international companies interested in setting up their businesses outside the established centres and tapping into the potential of local ecosystems.

The action supports co-designed programmes of activities, of at least two (2) calendar years, proposed jointly by business acceleration entities located in less connected innovation ecosystems (‘modest’ and ‘moderate’) and innovation hubs (‘strong innovators’ and innovation leaders’)[[ References: Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS), European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS), Global Innovation Index (GII).]], to improve the quality of business acceleration services, their network outreach and scale-up support, such as:

  • share business acceleration related best practices, knowledge, tools and methods;
  • exchange of promising start-ups and SMEs, including women-led businesses, involving participation in acceleration programmes abroad and introduction to foreign financing institutions;
  • exchange of accelerator programme experts, including evaluators, thematic experts, mentors and investors;
  • establishing links between local actors in developing ecosystems, particularly research, education institutions and local authorities and incoming start-ups, international accelerators and experts to enhance transfer of technology and knowledge to supply them with innovative solution;
  • establishing a virtual platform with an overview of accelerator programmes, financial resources, mentors, events in partner ecosystems.

To ensure that the impact of the action goes beyond consortium members and their respective countries, it is encouraged that the consortium works closely with innovation agencies from their respective territories and beyond, and seeks for synergies with relevant EU initiatives such as the European Europe Network.