Startups in their early stages are supported and nurtured by incubators and accelerators. But how do they work?

An incubator is an organization that aims to assist new startup companies during their development phase. Their primary objective is to help startups overcome the challenges they face during their early stages when they are most vulnerable. Incubators provide various services such as office space, seed funding, management training, and mentoring. They take a nurturing approach to company building, helping entrepreneurs develop a minimum viable product, business plan, and initial team. These programs usually last 1-2 years or longer. Incubators are often non-profit organizations that take little or no equity, although they may offer small seed funding. There is no guarantee of investment. Additionally, incubators usually provide office space and facilities to their support companies.

An accelerator is a program designed to support the rapid growth of startups over a short period of time. It does this by providing them with seed investment, mentoring, and training. An accelerator aims to help startups bring their products to the market and scale quickly. Accelerator programs usually last about 3-6 months and focus on rapid growth. Accelerators take an equity stake in the participating startups to make money, often providing a small amount of capital in exchange for equity. Unlike incubators, accelerators run short programs that require less space and facilities.

Early-stage startups can significantly benefit from incubators and accelerators, which provide various support and services to help them grow effectively. These programs offer the following advantages:


Through incubators and accelerators, startups can access seed funding, angel investors, and venture capitalists. This funding can help them achieve key milestones and launch their operations.


Experienced entrepreneurs offer guidance on critical business aspects, such as strategy, marketing, product development, leadership, and fundraising. This valuable advice helps founders avoid errors and boost growth.


Founders can benefit from accessing networks through potential partners, employees, mentors, and investors, particularly at events and showcases. It is an excellent opportunity to establish valuable connections and propel their businesses to greater heights.


Startup founders can gain essential skills through structured programs, seminars, workshops, and other educational resources. These can cover business planning, product-market fit, and team building.


Startups can benefit from incubators and accelerators because they provide office space, administrative services, legal and accounting support, technology resources, and other assets for efficient operation.


Not all incubators and accelerators are the same. There are several types of models, which include the following:

1. Corporate Accelerators

These are programs run by large corporations seeking to engage with startups for potential partnerships, investments, or acquisitions. The corporation provides capital, mentoring, and access to markets. Startups gain domain expertise, credibility, and possible exit opportunities.

2. University Incubators

Academic institutions host these to promote entrepreneurship among students and faculty. They provide campus facilities, resources, mentorship, and funding opportunities to nurture early-stage startups.

3. Government Incubators

These are initiatives by central or state governments to boost local economies and promote innovation. They provide grants, mentor networks, R&D facilities, and other resources. Startups gain support to develop socially relevant and sustainable solutions aligned with government priorities.

4. Independent Incubators

Privately run and for-profit, these cater to startups across domains, technologies, and business models. They offer seed funding, mentoring, networking, and technical and administrative support in exchange for equity or fees.


As the world changes at an increasing pace, the future of incubators and accelerators looks bright. With new opportunities on the horizon, these organizations have the potential to play a crucial role in nurturing startups, creating jobs, and driving innovation. By staying ahead of the curve and adapting proactively to changing needs, incubators, and accelerators can continue to provide immense value to entrepreneurs and the wider community.


Article by
Ava Collins
Content Writer and Researcher

Student award winner Ava Collins