15 Corporate Accelerator Programs that Help Startups Succeed

post written by Dimitris
15 Corporate Accelerator Programs for Startups | Coara

Upon entering the business world, people are often faced with a hard decision; choosing between safety or freedom. They can either follow the secure, “corporate” path or risk it all to pursue their entrepreneurial goals.

While corporations and startups are seen as very different career options, there is an opportunity to get the best of both. Nowadays, many organizations try to connect the two worlds by creating corporate accelerator programs.

The corporate accelerator business model serves a dual purpose; help entrepreneurs build innovative products while helping corporations grow. More specifically:

  • Corporate accelerator programs are sponsored by established organizations, who also define the objectives (e.g. pursue emerging trends, create funnels for CVC investments, etc.).
  • They provide funding, mentorship, and office space for a pre-determined timeframe, similar to seed accelerators.
  • They have sporadic intakes and work with a small number of companies. Some of them don’t even require external funding (e.g. private VCs & Angel investors).

In this article, we list 15 of the most popular corporate accelerator programs from all over the world. From Microsoft to Disney, each of these programs present a great opportunity to aspiring entrepreneurs that want to take their startup to the next level.

Corporate Accelerator programs in the US & Canada

The following accelerator programs are based in the US and Canada. Note that some of them have subsidiaries in other continents as well.

1. M12 - Microsoft for Startups

corporate accelerator programs

Location: San Francisco, CA | Seattle, WA (also has offices in Israel, UK, and India)
Investment Stage: Early Stage Venture, Late Stage Venture
Official Website

M12, formerly known as Microsoft Ventures, is an accelerator that helps entrepreneurs leverage the global power of Microsoft. The program is focused on enterprise-level tech startups that benefit the customer base of Microsoft.

Highlights
  • Each portfolio company is assigned a “relationship manager”. This well-connected expert explores the needs of the company and connects the team with the right people, to help accelerate the project’s growth.
  • Sponsored Microsoft startups receive assistance from a team of professionals that have in-depth knowledge of marketing, operations, investing, finance, and engineering.
  • All portfolio companies get access to Microsoft technologies (Office, Azure, Github Enterprise, and others).

2. Accelerator Centre

corporate accelerator programs

Location: Ontario, Canada
Investment Stage: Early Stage Venture, Seed
Official Website

Accelerator Centre has been named as one of Canada’s top 5 Fintech & AI accelerators. The organization helps entrepreneurs take their ideation-stage startup and develop it into a global success, by providing everything the team needs. While the program has a strong preference for Canadian entrepreneurs, international teams are welcome as well.

Highlights
  • Accelerator Centre offers a 6-month program split into 4 phases, depending on the stage of development.
  • All portfolio companies receive access to over $400,000 worth of service discounts (e.g. Amazon, IBM, HubSpot)
  • Direct access to one-on-one mentorship, funding opportunities, office space, and a large international network.

3. Disney Accelerator

corporate accelerator programs

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Investment Stage: Early Stage Venture, Late Stage Venture
Official Website

Since 2014, Walt Disney Corporation supports startups that aim to innovate in the field of media and entertainment. The accelerator offers funding, guidance, and office space at Disney’s campus, connecting entrepreneurs with business leaders in the field of entertainment and technology.

Highlights
  • Portfolio companies gain access to education, mentorship, and resources from Disney and its subsidiaries.
  • The accelerator supports early and growth-stage tech startups that focus on products and services in the entertainment industry.
  • The corporate accelerator program takes place in the summer and ends in October with a Demo Day.
  • Even though the co-working space is located in LA, participating startups do not need to be physically present for the whole duration of the program (only at the beginning, during important meetings, and for the final Demo Day).

4. Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator

corporate accelerator programs

Location: San Francisco, CA
Investment Stage: Early Stage Venture, Seed
Official Website

Wells Fargo’s corporate accelerator supports early-stage enterprise startups that develop products for enterprise customers and financial institutions. By providing all the necessary tools, the organization helps its portfolio companies reach market success in the corporate sector.

Highlights
  • The accelerator reviews and sponsors new projects year-round, and not just on predetermined timeframes.
  • Once a promising startup is selected, it joins an intensive 6-month program that provides assistance in the form of capital, networking, guidance, and mentorship.
  • Participating companies can receive up to $1.000.000 in funding capital, with Wells Fargo maintaining only a small part of equity.

5. Google Launchpad Accelerator

corporate accelerator programs

Location: San Francisco, CA (and other subsidiaries all over the world)
Investment Stage: Growth Stage
Official Website

The Google Launchpad Accelerator is focused on tech startups that solve bottlenecks on a country-regional level (local challenges). Projects that join Google for its three-month acceleration program can apply and work from the US, India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

Highlights
  • The program provides equity-free funding.
  • The total duration of the program is 6 months, with a 3-month acceleration program and followup support for startups addressing emerging markets.
  • Google offers support and mentoring from 20+ teams with diverse expertise, local mentors, as well as access to engineers.
  • Large-scale marketing opportunities, all-expense-paid training in Silicon Valley, and Google product credits.

6. T-Mobile Accelerator

Location: Kansas, MO (currently remote)
Investment Stage: Pre Seed, Seed
Official Website

T-Mobile chooses 6 startups per year to take part in the T-Mobile Accelerator. The ideation-stage startups work closely with telecommunication business leaders and other industry experts to create and deploy the next innovative tech products and applications related to 5G technology. For more information, make sure you watch the introduction video.

7. Citrix Startup Accelerator

corporate accelerator programs

Location: San Francisco, CA
Investment Stage: Early Stage Venture, Seed
Official Website

Citrix Startup Accelerator provides early-stage and seed funding to enterprise startups that focus on the development of cloud, collaboration, and mobile technologies. The San-Fransisco-based program has funded 39 early-stage startups with 6 successful exits over its 5 years of existence. The program has currently been put on hold, with hopes of returning at some point in the future.

Highlights
  • Citrix portfolio companies receive a seed funding of $250k (25k split over 10 companies) and benefit from a three-month acceleration program.
  • Accelerator facility in Silicon Valley with access to mentorship opportunities, resources, and the global Citrix ecosystem.

Corporate Startup Accelerators in Europe & the Middle East

The following accelerators have their headquarters in Europe. They may thus be best suited for European entrepreneurs or startups with European interests.

8. Next Media Accelerator

corporate accelerator programs

Location: Hamburg, Germany
Investment Stage: Early Stage Venture
Official Website

Launched in 2015, Next Media Accelerator is an independent accelerator sponsored by 30 German and Austrian media outlets. NMA provides capital to early-stage media tech startups located in Europe, the US, and Israel while offering rich accelerator programs to support their growth.

Highlights
  • 6-month program for scalable companies that target international markets.
  • Access to mentors, educators, and business leaders in the publishing industry; mainly German media outlets, independent publishers, and agencies.
  • 3 levels of funding (0, 25.000, or 50.000€ with 3%-10% equity stake).

9. Mastercard Start Path

corporate accelerator programs

Location: Dublin, Ireland
Investment Stage: Late Stage Venture
Official Website

Mastercard Start Path is a corporate accelerator program for a diverse range of technology startups; not just payment solutions. Among others, the accelerator is interested in projects that provide solutions in Fintech, AI, mobile payments, but also blockchain and other emerging industries.

Highlights
  • The program helps later-stage startups build connections (through networking opportunities and partnerships) in order to accelerate scaling.
  • Start Path focuses on startups with a particular set of characteristics. According to their website the average company that joins their accelerator has a team size of 10-15 people, an average of $8.1 million in funding, and at least 6 to 12 months of runway.
  • Mastercard puts a strong emphasis on diversity and hints a preference for startups that have at least one woman as a co-founder with influence over the team (info derived from their application form).

10. Unilever Ventures

corporate accelerator programs

Location: London, UK
Investment Stage: Early Stage Venture, Late Stage Venture
Official Website

Unilever Ventures is the venture capital subsidiary of Unilever. Through their very own accelerator program, they invest in early-stage startups and provide access to the organization’s ecosystem, assets, and expertise.

With 104 investments and 16 successful exits, Unilever’s main focus lies in disruptive tech in the personal care industry.

https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/unilever-ventures

11. SigmaLabs Accelerator

corporate accelerator programs

Location: Tel Aviv & Haifa, Isreal
Investment Stage: Early Stage Venture
Official Website

Sigmalabs helps Israeli fintech startups develop their product in order to address current market challenges. Through their acceleration program, startups attain product validation, market fit, lots of business experience, and a bigger chance of closing a successful funding round.

Highlights
  • The accelerator hosts a 3-month program, three times per year, choosing six to eight companies per round. After the acceleration program, companies get free office space in Haifa or Tel Aviv for an additional month.
  • Sigmalabs does not take equity in the companies they choose to sponsor.
  • Opportunities to work with qualified interns, free AWS credits (up to $15.000), and a 90% discount on all Hubspot software of 1 year.

12. G4A (Grant4Apps) Accelerator

corporate accelerator programs

Location: Berlin, Germany
Investment Stage: Seed
Official Website

Bayer G4A, previously known as Grants4Apps, launched in 2013, with the initial purpose of funding applications related to the healthcare sector. In time, however, with the evolution of digital health, G4A expanded into projects that involve behavioral science.

Highlights
  • Even though the headquarters are located in Germany, the corporation works with healthcare startups in more than 35 countries.
  • Applications for the accelerator start in April each year, after which a selection process narrows down the selection to a small number of companies. The winning startups will then relocate to Berlin to participate in a 9-week program in November of the same year.
  • Every year, G4A aims to find solutions for specific health challenges, which can be seen here.

13. Airbus BizLab

corporate accelerator programs

Location: Toulouse, France | Hamburg, Germany | Bangalore, India | Madrid, Spain
Investment Stage: Seed
Official Website

Airbus BizLab is one of the most popular aerospace accelerators, where early-stage startups and Airbus employees are able to transform their ideas into successful companies. In its four years of existence, the accelerator has hosted more than 70 startup businesses and 54 internal projects in its 24-week program.

Highlights
  • The accelerator focuses on all stages of product development, starting from market exploration, MVP creation, and testing, all the way to attaining product-market fit.
  • Each of the 4 campuses hosts two annual calls and is not solely looking for startups that operate in the aeronautic industry. Among others, they are interested in AI projects, data analytics, blockchain, cybersecurity, and more.
  • The program offers free office space, expert mentoring sessions, educational seminars, access to testing facilities, and a Demo Day.
  • Startups that are selected to participate in the program receive equity-free funding that amounts up to 45,000€ to develop their product.

14. Axel Springer “Plug and Play” Accelerator

corporate accelerator programs

Location: Berlin, Germany
Investment Stage: Seed
Official Website

Axel Springer Plug and Play is a Berlin-based corporate accelerator focused on (pre)seed startups. It is ideal for companies that need to test their market plan, validate their target audience, and/or grow traction to their product.

Highlights
  • The accelerator program is focused on digital marketing-related startups (Ad-tech solutions, scalable marketplaces, content publishers, etc). These can have a B2C, B2B, or C2C business model.
  • Benefits include € 25,000 in funding, free office space, access to mentors and investors, international networking opportunities, and continuous support (even after the conclusion of the acceleration period).

15. Wayra Accelerator (by Telefonica)

corporate accelerator programs

Location: Madrid, Spain
Investment Stage: Late-stage
Official Website

Wayra is one of the most popular tech innovation hubs in the world. With more than 10 subsidiaries, their global presence aims to connect deep-tech startups with Telefonica’s network to create joint business opportunities. Since late last year, the accelerator has partnered with four other Venture Capital firms to focus more on established startups with a clear business plan.

Highlights
  • Strong preference for “mature” startups working on IoT, cybersecurity, and blockchain solutions.
  • Up to $2 million in funding for selected startup projects.

Closing

Corporate accelerator programs are certainly not as popular as business incubators or seed accelerators. They are, however, bridging the gap between two very different worlds. By helping entrepreneurs stand on the shoulders of giants corporations, these accelerators are a certain way to maximize the potential of their startup projects.

If you are wondering whether corporate startup accelerator programs are the best way for your company to grow, make sure to explore their official websites in-depth and try to communicate with the team to find out more.