You could be on the brink of something great with your idea and business plan, but getting up and running can be hard. Whether its the money to build your prototype or learning how to run a business for the first time, a little help from experts and mentors is what can catapult your startup to the stars.
London really is the epicentre of startup activity in the UK, and there’s a huge array of incubators or accelerators there to help get your business off the ground. To give you the perfect overview of where to find the best support for your business, here’s our pick of the incubators and accelerators in London you should look to for the help you need.
Bathtub2Boardroom is a charity that provides entrepreneurs with what they need most in the early stages of founding a business: affordable office space, the support of a community and caffeine. Their ‘Tubs’, as they call their spaces, are located in central London, one near Bank station, the other between Old Street and Angel.
Wanting to give those the opportunity to start their dream business who otherwise would not have the opportunity or support to do so, they provide their members with free advice and mentoring opportunities. If your business is younger than 12 months, your team has less than 5 members and you raised less than £150K in seed investment, Bathtub2Boardroom could be the right home for your budding business.
This is how they describe themselves:
“Bathtub is a community of over 110 early stage startups and is itself led by an experienced entrepreneur with a small team who are passionate about helping our members to succeed. We run peer-to-peer learning workshops and bring in experienced mentors, speakers and subject matter experts to help founders to grabble with the multitude of challenges and pitfalls they encounter once embarked on their start-up journey. By offering low cost membership and accommodation we help limited budgets stretch further, and we help guide members with regards likely sources of funding. During 2016 our members raised over £5 million between them, and went on to create over 70 paid jobs for new team members.” – Bathtub2Boardroom
You run an edtech startup that aims to have a positive impact on educational outcomes? London-based accelerator program Emerge Education is for you. No matter what stage of development your edtech startups is in, this program will offer valuable opportunities for mentoring, networking, distribution, and testing for your business. Each startup receives an investment between £40k and £100k in exchange for 3-8% equity.
Throughout the program you will receive access to beta testing on real audiences and early adopters, so you can receive honest feedback to improve your product. If your startup focusses on teachers, you will be able to get real teachers’ opinions, and if your business is B2B centred, Emerge Education provides access to early adopters like education providers and schools to test your ideas on. A Demo Day at the end of the programme will be your chance to present your business to potential investors.
If marketing and advertising is your game, Collider will set your business on the right track. Collider is an accelerator dedicated to marketing and advertising startups, who help brands better engage with consumers. With Collider your startup can receive an investment of up to £80k as well as expert coaching and connections to potential corporate customers and investors. During the 4 month programme you can learn everything you need to know about product roadmapping, business models, branding, sales and the perfect pitch deck.
This programme connects founders with progressive brands and specialist investors, to help you turn your startup into a sustainable, growing business. With the investment, coaching sessions, brand and investor interactions, workshops and a Demo Day the Collider accelerator can help your business fulfil its potential.
Sussex Innovation Croydon
The Sussex Innovation Centre supports entrepreneurs and startups from any industry to help you grow and keep up momentum to be continuously successful. Their centre in the borough of Croydon occupies two floors of the iconic One Croydon building. Sussex Innovation Croydon offers members of their community strategic advice, mentoring, administrative support and flexible space to grow. Additionally you can get the support of a team of mentored students and graduates to help out when it gets busy.
You can choose from their different membership options and join Sussex Innovation Croydon as either tenant, virtual member or network member. Network memberships start from £45 per month and tenant memberships at £700. Depending on your status you can either work in an office space, at their hot-desks or in shared workspaces. But no matter which membership option you choose, you will benefit from networking opportunities and an introduction to plenty of industry contacts.
This is how they describe themselves:
“Sussex Innovation is a large, well established technology business incubator. It is also part of the University of Sussex, delivering research commercialisation and student entrepreneurship programmes. At any time we are working with over 150 entrepreneurs and academics on new innovation based projects. The Sussex Innovation Centre, from its base in East Croydon, offers its members a range of support and services for start-ups which are quite unusual within the accelerator / incubator community. Rather than having a prescribed support programme, the model is to develop ‘Assets’ with the Innovation Centre which can be used flexibly by the company to fill gaps in their knowledge and / or their resources.” – Sussex Innovation Centre
Located in Canary Wharf’s One Canada Square, Level39 is Europe’s largest technology accelerator space for companies specialising in finance, cyber-security and smart-city technology. At L39 you can connect to expert mentors and investors and forge relationships with other entrepreneurs at monthly networking events.
L39 offers an educational curriculum to help you create an outstanding product or service, as well as get ready to go to market and accelerate the growth of your business. Whether you need just a single desk, an office space for your team of 5 people or even one of their High Growth Spaces for up to 100 people: at L39 you’ll find the space you need for your startup.
Techstars offers mentorship-driven accelerator programmes all over the world, and of course startup hub London has to be among them. Techstars mainly (but not exclusively) funds companies specialising in web, technology and software, who are proposing ideas that solve real problems or create meaningful innovations.
Over the course of a 90-day programme Techstars helps to accelerate startups with hands-on mentorship. During the program you can benefit from the Techstars office space and numerous opportunities for learning, networking and coaching. Techstars offers a seed funding of $20k for 6% common stock to help you develop your startup. The programme ends with a Demo Day and gives you the opportunity to present your business idea to investors and venture capitalists.
Seedcamp offers startups of all stages what they need most: learning opportunities, a network and capital. They invest in technology-oriented startups, but do not focus on any particular industry. Seedcamp offers different options of investment, depending on what stage of development your business is in: 7% equity for a £64k investment, a 3% warrant that lets you benefit from the Seedcamp programme or up to £170k in seed investment.
At Seedcamp you can improve your skills with the help of a monthly series of workshops and masterclasses delivered by experts and mentors, covering everything from product development to marketing, distribution and fundraising. During Operator and Investor Days companies can meet industry experts as well as make connections to a great number of investors. Seedcamp wants to provide you with a platform that helps you scale your business successfully and be there for you long term with lifelong support.
Bethnal Green Ventures
Bethnal Green Ventures is an accelerator programme and early-stage investor for technology startups that have brilliant ideas for providing solutions to social, health, education and environmental problems. Originally from Bethnal Green, London, they are now based at the Ministry of Startups in Shoreditch. BGV invests £20k for 6% equity and provides you with a three month programme of support and advice to launch your startup. Once the programme is over, companies can get a potential further investment of £50k from BGV.
They look for early-stage businesses and teams of two to four people. No need for a business plan, as long as your solution has the potential to improve the lives of a great number of people in the long haul. During the programme BGV provides you with workshops and support. You will get the opportunity to forge relationships within a network of mentors, press and investors and you can even use their office space in central London for free for 6 months.
This coworking and incubation community started by a group of entrepreneurs and angel investors created their acceleration programme called WISE so that startups can learn from expert mentors. This is a rolling programme, which you can apply for at any time of the year if you are a digital startup and already have a minimal viable product in early traction stage. Located in Central London, on top of Smithfield Market Innovation Warehouse offers members of their accelerator programme mentoring and workshops as well as discounts on rent in their co-working space.
The WISE programme provides you with your own set of mentors, who will support you on your journey toward investment-readiness. During the first stage of this programme you can work on your product positioning, business model, sales strategy and prepare for pitching during weekly workshops. In the second stage Innovation Warehouse introduces you to the angel and seed investors in their network and help you navigate follow-up meetings and potentially even lead the investment if they decide to invest themselves.
This is how they describe themselves:
“The biggest advantages of being part of Innovation Warehouse are the automatic enrolment into an open network of like-minded founders, experienced mentors, and potential investors as well as being in constant touch with the latest insights. We help them deal with challenges such convincing discerning investors, competing on a buyer’s market as well as finding the right talent.” – Innovation Warehouse
FinTech Innovation Lab
This programme situated in the financial district of London wants to connect high-potential fintech and insurtech startups with established and influential financial services institutions. FinTech Innovation Lab is an accelerator and mentoring programme run by Accenture and its partners in London for startups planning to disrupt the FinTech world. The programme is aimed at startups in the finance and insurance industry but also startups from fields like Cybersecurity or Artificial Intelligence are welcome.
During the 12-week mentoring programme you can accumulate valuable insider knowledge from the industry you are planning to break into. Senior Accenture executives will give advice on your pitch and strategy. During events and workshops run by Accenture and partner banks you can build connections to fellow entrepreneurs, executives and mentors. If your startup’s technology or product is at least in a beta stage and would profit from relationships with senior industry experts and financial institutions, this programme might be the perfect fit for you.
Launch22 wants to give startups of all kinds and stages the opportunity to thrive. This charity incubator helps startups and entrepreneurs find a community and live up to their potential. They believe in the entrepreneurial spirit and in the potential of diversity to create innovation. Launch22 London supports your business growth by providing affordable workspace in central London near Old Street Station, as well as workshops, events and a network of mentors.
Memberships are very flexible to suit your budget and availability, starting at £50-60 per month for an evening membership or a part-time membership and offer hot or fixed desks for daily usage from £220 per month. If you need extra mentoring and support, they even run a scholarship programme to give entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to succeed.
This is how they describe themselves:
“At Launch22 we provide more than just office space for startups, but the advice that they need to succeed and grow their business. We do this through our numerous workshop events that we host free for all members and our mentoring system. All of our mentors are experts in their respective fields, be it marketing, VC investment or otherwise. Our members have free access to a mentoring session with any one of our volunteers all of whom try their very best in providing the advice and support early stage startups need. Furthermore, as a charity we are focused primarily on ensuring all startups succeed, we take no equity in a startup nor do we demand to be made co-founders. We keep our services as open as possible, keeping our prices to a minimum with all proceeds going to maintaining ourselves and running our scholarship programme that grants our services for free to those from a disadvantaged background.” – Launch22
Wayra UK is part of the global innovation network Telefónica Open Future_ who seek to democratise entrepreneurship and promote diversity, globalisation and open collaboration. Wayra offers acceleration and pre-acceleration programmes, often in cooperation with other partners. Depending on the programme, they usually provide you with a direct cash investment, office space, coaching, access to their investor network and business development team.
The Wayra Call, their accelerator programme, is open to tech startups that develop impactful digital technologies. This programme will give you access not only to a their office space in their Central London academy, but also to funding up to $50,000, coaches, mentors, the Telefónica customer base and their investor network. If you have a disruptive idea with big potential, a minimal viable product and a smart and passionate team, then this programme is waiting for your application.
BBC Worldwide Labs
Every year six companies that solve real problems or create meaningful innovations get the chance to participate in BBC Worldwide Labs’ six month long accelerator programme. Labs does not offer investments and takes no equity, but provides you with a programme full of learning opportunities and valuable industry connections. Located in the BBC Television Centre in White City, London, Labs focusses on early-stage digital media startups at the intersection of technology and media with the potential for global reach.
You’ll be mentored by industry experts and introduced to BBC Worldwide’s global network. During plenty of networking and educational events you can learn from experts and interact with mentors. An Investor Demo Day gives you the chance to convince angel investors and venture capitalists of your product. Labs offers the unique opportunity to learn how to run an international business from an industry giant – even with the potential to secure a commercial partnership with BBC Worldwide.
This accelerator programme is a win-win for startups and the established businesses mentoring them. In its 13-week accelerator programme L Marks partners your startup with a major player in your industry to mentor you. By teaming up, your corporate partner can foster innovation while your startup can benefit from an active collaboration with industry leaders. This is an opportunity to get real advice on strategy development and the possibility to test and grow your product with the help of experts who know your customers.
The programme was created for early stage startups disruptive technologies, products and services across industry sectors. L Marks helps build bridges between large corporates and young innovative startups so that both sides benefit from the connection. The access to this kind of mentorship means forging real connections in your industry and gives you a chance to learn from and build relationships with potential customers. These connections will set you up for success right from the start.
You’ve got a world-changing idea? Oxygen Accelerator is looking for web-based or software companies with products or technologies that have the potential for international reach. If your company is web 2.0, cloud based, a mobile application or a web service, then this 13 week programme could be the boost you need. The programme is an intensive boot camp during which you will receive mentoring and advice from a network of mentors, investors and trusted advisors.
Oxygen Accelerator invests up to £18,000 per team in exchange for 8% equity. During the programme you will spend half your time learning and the other half on the development of your product. The programme consists of 3 strategic phases, starting with building a clear proposition. Then you will validate your proposition and launch your product and finally you will learn the skills for the perfect pitch to receive investment on Demo Day. To give you the chance to complete your investment rounds Oxygen Accelerator also offers a further 13 week incubation phase after the intensive bootcamp full of mentoring and training.
Ready for a growth boost?
There are plenty of accelerators and incubators for all growth stages and industries that can give your business that boost it needs. Pick the right one for you from this list – they are waiting for your application. Good luck!