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Thrive is set up by Funding London, a venture capital company bridging the finance gap for early stage businesses based in London. With over a decade’s experience in supporting the startups of London through a variety of funding vehicles, Funding London sensed a need to illuminate the ever-evolving scenario of London’s early stage businesses.

Thrive features interviews with and opinion from budding entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts. A mix of contributors from all areas of the industry is desired in order to spark genuine discussion about ongoing critical issues. While it showcases the effectiveness of successful ventures, it also encourages sharing lessons learned from missteps and unsuccessful projects.

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Funding London
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Trends · 9 December '15

The Rise of Corporate Accelerators

Every corporate who wants to be working with start-ups is looking at running an in-house accelerator programmes these days. Barclays, arguably the longest-standing in the UK and making the most noise in the London scene, has opened the eyes of corporates everywhere to what they could be – the leader in their industry, adopting new technologies, and a whole host of other positive-sentiment statements.

I could break them up by industry or by corporate. FinTech accelerators, Retail-tech accelerators, FMCG accelerators. PWC and Virgin Media launched branded accelerators in the past month to name just a couple of the most recent additions to our local ecosystem. There’s even industry conferences to discuss them – Wayra hosted a conference called ‘The Rise of the Corporate Accelerator’ during the last week of October. The accelerator space is getting crowded, some say even turning into a market of its own. This is great news, as it means people are paying attention to the threat start-ups pose to corporate muscle. But it poses a ‘survival of the fittest’ threat to those playing the accelerator game. The stakes are high now.

It’s easy to forget that innovation and working with start-ups is hard when you’re not stuck in. Creating a programme with measurable outputs, on limited budgets, with limited resources is even harder. Managing expectations of C-suite executives, two-person start-ups, and the average Jane is like trying to ride a unicycle on a tightrope while juggling double-edged swords for the first time. We know because we’re doing it every day.

We know that having a direction and measurable outputs will make all the difference. Having whip-smart people in place to design programmes, engaged staff to get involved and mentor the founders, and a flexible framework for integrating new tech into your current models.

There’s no one-size-fits-all to corporate accelerators, as each have different strengths to draw from. But we know that those with a coherent vision that is focused on achieving a handful of meaningful of goals and measures are the ones that will have the most short-term success.

Some are focused on engaging staff who might want to start their own companies. Others are focused on getting the creative tech in front of their people to give them a competitive edge. Others are focused on optimising and streamlining processes in order to prepare for an internal cultural shift.

In the end, it all comes down to ‘why’. Be sure you have this clear vision of what this accelerator should achieve before approaching start-ups. They have little time to spare and thinning patience for having their time wasted with little returns. You’ll also then know who to call upon to help make this a successful venture.

What makes a good corporate accelerator?

  • How are you measuring engagement? Is this beneficial to start-ups as well as to corporates?
  • Is engagement the right thing to measure?
  • Corporate mentoring & engaging
  • How do you get corporate employees to engage with start-ups?