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Accelerating Innovation

A relatively new asset, the innovation accelerator appears to be an effective tool to source innovative products to corporations in various industries. Barclay Consulting has been working with life science companies to determine effective innovation strategies and solutions including innovation accelerators.

In 2005 business incubators began to evolve into free-standing innovation accelerators such as Y Combinator. In 2016, there were 213 global innovation accelerators, which supported 3800 new ventures. Over the ten-year period of 2005-2015, $19.5 billion was raised by accelerator resident startups.

Corporate accelerators exist in various industries such as consumer goods (Coca Cola), telecommunications (Orange Fab), insurance (Allianz), healthcare (Bayer), entertainment (Walt Disney), fashion/fitness technology (Nike), banking (Wells Fargo) and cybersecurity (Microsoft/Akamai). Many global biopharma companies have established either partnerships with individual innovation accelerators or have developed in-house innovation centers such as: GlaxoSmithKline, Samsung, Takeda, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer. Jansen’s, Johnson & Johnson JLABS has located 8 accelerators globally.

As of 2016, accelerator graduates that successfully closed follow-on finance rounds averaged $90m valuations (median $16m). Alumni of accelerators included Uber, AirBnB, Dropbox, Inc and Stripe.

Common design considerations for corporate accelerators include:

Each consideration impacts the corporation’s sourcing capability. For example, location of the accelerator affects company control, entrepreneurial energy, cost efficiency, and productivity management.

If the odds disfavor startups, should corporations and shareholders invest in accelerators? After all, 75% of startups fail in their first year and 90% of products fail. Across industries, product-discovery to revenue-generation can take 2-10 years.

Accelerator programs effectively provide quick funding go/no go decisions to corporate stakeholders. Accelerator programs induct higher quality management teams, and those teams’ startups are quicker to raise venture capital in successive finance rounds. Accelerator startups more frequently exit by acquisition (with higher valuations), and their products gain customer traction quicker than independent startups.

Meaningful corporate mentoring, counseling, and education provided by accelerators directly impact the quality, valuation and success of accelerator residents.

Accelerators attract additional seed and early-stage entrepreneurial financing activity, as well as economically grow the local ecosystems surrounding independent and corporate accelerators.

If your company is interested in adopting innovation strategies, please contact the Barclay Consulting Team: or 646-600-5421.


Hathaway, I., What startup accelerators really do. Harvard Business Review. March 01, 2016.

Kohler, T., 2016. Corporate accelerators: Building bridges between corporations and startups. 59(8) 347-357.

Pauwels, C., Bart, C., Wright, M., Van Hove, J., 2016. Understanding a new generation incubation model: The accelerator. Technovation. 50-51(10)13-24.

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