I just finished my Master’s thesis about Corporate Accelerators. It covers macro-level trends such as growth and prevalence among large corporation in addition to questions about the sponsorship and strategy of such programs. The thesis will be available through regular library access soon, but is also available as free download here.
In recent years, corporate accelerators have emerged as a new method to foster collaboration between startups and established companies. This thesis presents, to my knowledge, the first comprehensive database of corporate accelerator programs across the globe. On the basis of this resource, I propose a definition for corporate accelerators and show that they follow the same basic principles as non-corporate accelerators. Further, I provide evidence that corporate accelerators have been growing considerably over the past few years and have reached a level of presence close to that of corporate venture capital funds. While growth has been slowing down recently, I argue that corporate accelerators are well-suited to becoming a permanent element in the startup ecosystem and that they are likely to capture market share from non-corporate accelerators. On the basis of a population of 847 largely capitalized corporations I show that corporate accelerators are more frequently sponsored by large, information-related firms that are also investing corporate venture capital. This study provides first indications that corporate accelerators are not likely to deliver direct operating profits to the sponsoring firms. However, I provide examples of significant strategic explorations, including companies that select portfolio firms to help them innovate along their supply chain and distribution channels or to provide them with strategic gains in the marketplace.
Heinemann, Florian. 2015. “Corporate Accelerators: A Study on Prevalence, Sponsorship, and Strategy.” Master’s Thesis, Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.