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Funding programs for startups need to think more outside the box

Accelerators and incubators for startups are vital for industry, but often do not offer enough. The competition for ideas is now forcing them to specialize in specific industries and position themselves internationally.

10 Feb. 2019
Funding programs for startups need to think more outside the box (Foto: Roland Berger GmbH)

Established industrial companies like to invest in accelerators and incubators or to set up their own funding programs to find innovative startups. While some companies have the necessary money and a large network of contacts, other companies provide important new ideas for Industry 4.0. According to a survey by consulting firm Roland Berger, this has led to the total number of accelerators and incubators i ncreasing fivefold in the last ten years – which is reflected in the current fierce competition for the best ideas and approaches.

The majority of funding programs concentrate on providing classic support, such as coaching (96%), workshops (90%), and office space (86%), and fail to distinguish themselves from the competition with a clever concept. Only half of those surveyed give startups access to special technologies or specialize in a certain industry. Just 35% focus on a key area of technology, such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), big data, or artificial intelligence. Roland Berger therefore recommends accelerators, incubators, and other programs specialize more in one industry or technology and adopt an international strategy, to access new markets and open up additional opportunities for partnerships.