by Ayoub Id Abdelkade, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany
The world of University-based startup accelerator has not been at the centre of the analysis of innovation. It is true that they do not include themselves in the traditional definition of Accelerators but they represent an important step or improvement in the resume of a young entrepreneur.
Accelerators are defined as programs for startups that include moments of mentorships and provides all the necessary resources to young entrepreneurs in a limited quantity of time. It is normal now to think of the question: what does make them different from an incubator?
As Sepulveda said, usually incubators provide to startups the fundamental care they need to start their business idea with their right foot, from desks and office spaces to beginner-level mentorship. The job of an accelerator begins when the duty of incubators ends. Here is where a problem rises spontaneously: where is the ingredient of innovation in accelerator programs?
University-based accelerators usually represent a hybrid between the two definitions we gave before. This is because the business idea usually is born and raised in the academic environment and while the outcome of this kind of projects is not well defined yet, it is one of its strengths to provide both first care and a further development. Another important push to innovation is this kind of accelerators is the wide variety of subjects in which startups could be created since the variety of majors and courses in university is broaden.
University-based accelerators are also extremely important for something that is gaining more and more attention: the chance they give to students to improve their resumes. Academic achievements are always important in a CV but at the same time more entrepreneurs and companies are requiring a number of experiences on the field to offer even a Junior Position. Here is why, participating in a accelerator program during the times at university could change the possibilities of a newly graduate student. They offer the chance to work on something practical and at the same time they profit from the mentorship of entrepreneurs. This could result in two ways: the improvement of the chances of a future job or the improvement of the startup itself.
The family environment that is usually created at university contributes to the growth of students and faculties involved in this kind of projects.
Of course, there is another side of things that could be improved in the matter of university-based accelerators. For example, the turnover rate. In this matter it is important to find a way to join both the academic side of university and the more practical one so that students can see the end of their startup projects and continue with their education. Since the outcome of university-based startups is not very clear and it is not immediately recognisable between skills or the startups, the power of university-based accelerators is to represent a functional hybrid but it is necessary to find a way to join both of its sides to provide strong education and a future for the business ideas.