Skip to content

UK startup accelerators and incubators double in five years

accelerators incubators
Image credit: Foxy burrow via Shutterstock

The number of UK-based startup accelerators and incubators has doubled in the past five years to 750, according to a new report.

The study from the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CfE) found that founders had access to startup support programmes across all the local enterprise partnership areas in England.

Growth in the number of accelerators and incubators was the fastest in Wales and Northern Ireland, while Scotland has slightly fewer in total compared to five years ago.

“In uncertain times it’s a good thing that there is such strong startup business support in every local enterprise partnership in the country, which was not the case five years ago,” said Matthew Smith, a senior fellow at the CfE.

Startup incubators are collaborative programmes made to support new companies at the earliest stages. They play a crucial role in nurturing startups by providing workspaces, mentoring, and financial support.

Similarly, an accelerator will often provide mentoring and training to early-stage startups. However, they will also often provide funding in exchange for equity similar to a venture capital investor.

Seedcamp, for example, is a London-based European accelerator that has invested in startups including Revolut, Hopin, and Wise.

Another notable incubator is Entrepreneur First, which raised £130m in a Series C round in June from the likes of Monzo’s Tom Blomfield.

Smith did, however, express concern that many incubators and accelerators are reliant on public funding, putting their sustainability in questions following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Previously, the EU provided significant funding for startup growth hubs, meaning the UK leaving the EU has cut off a significant stream of funding.

Just eight UK incubators said they had received no public funding, according to Smith.

The CfE has called on existing hubs to better publicise their success to ensure funding will continue to be provided both publicly and privately.