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It can be a tricky task for startups to raise funding. According to the research conducted by CB insights, funding (or running out of funds) is the second reason why startups fail. Luckily, there are more emerging startup initiatives in Europe that aim to promote entrepreneurship and nurture more successful company founders on the continent. One of such initiatives is called a startup accelerator program.

What is a startup accelerator program?

A startup accelerator program is an intensive business and personal development program which supports a small team of founders, usually with a business idea of their own. The support comes in a form of mentorship, affordable office spaces, and some starting capital. In a nutshell, a program consists of the following core elements:

  • An application process that is open to all, yet highly competitive.
  • A provision of pre-seed investment, normally in exchange for a single-digit equity.
  • A focus on small teams, not individual founders.
  • Time-limited support comprising programmed events and intensive mentoring.
  • A final – “A demo day” – when startups pitch their ideas to raise first big funding.

At the same time, it is important to realize that startup accelerators are ultimately investment management companies. They look for the most promising companies at the very early stage and then invest into them. While they expecting companies to raise the next rounds of funding and ultimately (and hopefully) make an exit with companies’ acquisition or IPO.

Best startup accelerator programs in Europe

Note: We keep this list updated, so check IT back to learn about new programs and deadlines.

In order to save time, you would want to know what the best startup accelerator programs in Europe are. StartupFactories has made a list of Europe-based startup accelerator programs, and AlphaGamma revised the list a bit to keep all the latest and relevant updates and deadlines in one table. Here are the best startup accelerator programs in Europe:

Programme Location Investment amount Length of programme Next application deadline
33entrepreneurs Bordeaux, France € 15,000 3 Months November 15, 2016
Axel Springer Plug and Play Berlin, Germany € 25,000 3 Months July 19, 2016
Barclays Accelerator London, United Kingdom up to $ 100,000 15 Weeks October 14, 2015
BBC Worldwide LABS London, United Kingdom Mentoring & coaching 6 Months Will be reopening applications soon for the 2016 cohort
Bethnal Green Ventures London, United Kingdom £ 15,000 3 Months June 13, 2016
ChallengeUp! EMEAR Mentoring, coaching & client introductions  4 Months March 22, 2016
Distill Ventures London, United Kingdom £ 150,000 6 Months Rolling basis
Dotforge Accelerator Sheffield, United Kingdom £ 15,000 13 Weeks Rolling basis
Emerge Education 2017 London, United Kingdom £ 15,000 3 Months Rolling basis
Entrepreneur First London, United Kingdom £ 17,500 12 Months Rolling basis
GameFounders Tallinn, Estonia € 15,000 3 Months Rolling basis
H-Camp (H-Farm Seed Ventures) Roncade, Italy € 20,000 3 Months July 15, 2016
Healthbox London, United Kingdom $ 50,000 16 Weeks Rolling basis
Idealabs Antwerp, Belgium € 25,000 3 Months August 15, 2015
Indiebio Cork, Ireland € 50,000 3 Months March 7, 2016
LAUNCHub Sofia, Bulgaria € 30,000 6 Months September 15, 2015
Microsoft Accelerator Berlin, Germany Mentoring & coaching 3 Months July 3, 2016
NDRC LaunchPad Spring 2016 Dublin, Ireland € 20,000 12 Weeks June 24, 2016
Nextstars Paris, France € 10,000 4 Months Rolling basis
Openfund Athens, Greece € 20,000 6 Months Rolling basis
Oxygen Accelerator Birmingham, United Kingdom € 21,000 13 Weeks Fall, 2015
Propeller Venture Accelerator 6.0 Dublin, Ireland € 30,000 5 Months Will open soon
ProSienbenSat.1Accelerator Munich, Germany € 25,000 3 Months August 28, 2016
Rockstart Accelerator (Smart Energy Program) Amsterdam, Netherlands € 20,000 6 Months Will reopen soon
Rockstart Accelerator (Web/Mobile Program) Amsterdam, Netherlands € 15,000 12 Weeks Will reopen soon
Seedcamp London, United Kingdom € 50,000 12 Months Open for 2016
SeedRocket Barcelona, Spain € 150,000 3 Months April 15, 2016
Startup Reykjavik Reykjavik, Iceland $ 16,000 10 Weeks March 31, 2016
Startup Sauna Helsinki, Finland Mentoring & coaching 5 Weeks Beginning of May 2016
Startup Wise Guys Tallinn, Estonia € 30,000 12 Weeks Rolling basis
Startupbootcamp Smart City Amsterdam Amsterdam, Netherlands € 15,000 3 Months February 5, 2016
Startupbootcamp Berlin Berlin, Germany € 15,000 3 Months June 1, 2016
Startupbootcamp Internet of Things and Big Data Barcelona Barcelona, Spain € 15,000 3 Months October 16, 2015
Startupbootcamp HighTechXL Eindhoven Eindhoven, Netherlands € 15,000 3 Months December 31, 2015
Startupbootcamp Mobility Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark € 15,000 3 Months Rolling basis
Startupbootcamp Singapore (FinTech) Singapore, Singapore € 15,000 3 Months February 7, 2016
Startupbootcamp Istanbul Istanbul, Turkey € 15,000 3 Months May 29, 2016
Startupbootcamp Insurance London London, UK € 15,000 3 Months October 17, 2016
StartupHighway  Vilnius, Lithuania €25,000 13 Weeks Open for applications in 2016
Techstars London London, United Kingdom € 15,000 3 Months Rolling bases
Yunus Social Business Albania Accelerator Tirana, Albania € 1,000 4 Months Rolling Basis

What is the difference between startup accelerator and business incubator?

It is easy to get lost in various startup definitions which intuitively are synonymous, but in fact they are not. The following definitions will help you navigate in the startup universe and to see which programs are applicable to you.

Workspace
An office location which provides desks, office space and facilities (infrastructure) at a significantly reduced or low rate to startups and growth businesses. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to get standard business amenities which conditions vary from the very basic to somewhat exquisite. Workspaces can be offered at a separate location or as part of a wider network (e.g., startup accelerator or business incubator). Desks are charged at a monthly fee or discounted for an advance payment.

Startup Weekend
Events run over 48 to 72 hours intended to create new startup teams who are actively engaged in developing a business idea under a strict time limit. Participants can either be individuals with no initial connections, or existing teams joining to fast track their ideas. Events vary whether they accept or invite people to join with existing ideas, or if teams are expected to come up with something new right on the spot. Normally there is a small participation fee, with no liability to continue with a team or idea after the weekend.

Startup Accelerator
Profit-driven programs that accept open applications to attend classes (or ‘cohorts’) of new companies run by small founding teams. The initial ideas are expected to be already developed by the founders.  The programs assist by providing seed capital, guidance and events for a limited period – generally 3 to 4 months – in return for equity (in between 5-10%). The newly established companies “graduate” at the end of the program by receiving the first serious investment from investors, usually after pitching their ideas at a ‘demo day’.

Business Incubator
Programs that are backing successfully developing businesses by offering assets and services, which are by a group of expert directors and staff, who are supported by their network of contacts. There are two types of incubators: either where the idea is developed within the Incubator and then the external team runs it; or as a complete workspace setting, where participants can come up with their own ideas. In the first case, the Incubator asks for a stake in the company to provide their resources, whereas in the second case entrepreneurs might be asked to pay monthly fees to utilize the resources of the Incubator.

The floor is yours…

Have you participated in any of these programs? Or maybe you have joined others that are not listed here? Let us hear your thoughts in the comment section below. If you also stumbled across startup definitions which are not mentioned here, let us know.

For more business tips and opportunities, check our opportunities section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

  • Edvins Locmelis

    Very useful information! I just have started to work on new project and looking for external financing for development and testing of the concept, product certification, etc. This really helps me to evaluate the available sources of financing and compare them in a single place. Good job!

  • Selin Yuce

    That is just what I am looking for! I am working on a mobile application with my team, so this will be of great use. Just one question: do those programs only work on an equity basis as you mentioned or do some of them provide capital in exchange for interest? Since we would like to keep total shares amongst our team members, we are more interested in receiving a loan for our startup.

  • Edvins Locmelis Thank you for your feedback! 🙂 There are more awesome articles in the pipeline, so stay tuned for more. Have a good day!

  • Selin Yuce You’re welcome! It really depends case by case: some accelerators and incubators are not as flexible as the others. However, if they spot a great opportunity, they will deviate from the standards, giving you more room for negotiation. Plus, when you have so many opportunities (=accelerator programs), you have some options on the table, too. 

    There’s going to be an article devoted to structuring deals, so check AlphaGamma more often. 🙂
    Have a good day!

  • Pingback: Change the World » Best Startup Accelerator Programs in Europe | AlphaGamma()

  • RahulSood

    Wait what?  You call this the “best” startup accelerator programs in Europe yet you missed one of the top, if not the best, Microsoft Ventures Accelerator?  Honestly, this list looks like a compilation of any and all accelerators vs “the best” — the best would consist of maybe no more than 10 if you’re lucky, and of the 10 – Microsoft Ventures is in the top 3.

    Yeah I used to run Microsoft Ventures globally, but all bias aside, I would think that most of the people on your list would agree.  Microsoft is super entrepreneur friendly, they don’t expect you to buy anything, oh and they take no equity.  

    Update your list man.  Arthur Gopak.  Speak to some of the best people who run top accelerators in Europe, Andy McCartney (London), Roxanne Varza (Paris), and Marius Sewing (Berlin).   @MSFTVentures

  • RahulSood Thank you for your insight, Rahul, and for dropping by at AlphaGamma! 🙂 I’ve just had a look at the Microsoft Ventures Program, and it looks interesting indeed. Just a quick question: does it also offer seed funding, and if yes, how much? 
    I sent this question to your (former) colleagues in a Berlin office today, will update this table once I get the info.
    Thanks, and I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. Wish you a great evening!

  • Matthias Voigt

    It would have been interesting beside the investment what else you can expect. Also the equity they’ll take. Also as Rahul says, Microsoft Ventures is extremely interesting.

    But it’s still a good list. Would be also nice for other continents. 🙂

  • Matthias Voigt Thanks a lot for the suggestions, we will expand on the table shortly. 🙂 
    Yes, we have plans for other continents, too — stay tuned for more! Have a great day!

  • RMagnifico

    Italy’s most advanced acceleration programme is http://www.luissenlabs.com. the website is English only. We give €30k cash + €30k services. Programme is 5 months. We assign 3 advisors. We take 10% and 3% for the advisors. 2 batches per year. We are based in Rome. All details on our website. Mentoring, coaching, seminars. 50 events per year on premises. 2 months product validation, 2 months market validation 1 month revenue generation. Next call will be October 2015. Follow us on the website and socials.

  • Miguel Garcia

    Happy to see our accelerator (FINODEX) is shown here. Just to let you all know we DO NOT take equity and offer free consulting services on top. We are part of a bigger programme called FIWARE Accelerate which is co-funded by the European Commission.

  • Audrey Fillon

    Thrilled to see 33entrepreneurs is part of this ranking ! Thanks @alphagamma ! 
    We are the first accelerator worldwide in #foodtech #traveltech and #wine&spirits tech and a global VC fund. We invest in international start-ups. 
    Website : http://www.33entrepreneurs.net/
    Twitter : https://twitter.com/33entrepreneurs 
    Linkedin : https://goo.gl/BvcBYg
    Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/33entrepreneurs?fref=ts
    Check it out and don’t hesitate to send me a message (audrey@33entrepreneurs.co) if you want more info on us !

  • Audrey Fillon Hi Audrey, thanks for the comment! We will stay in touch! 🙂

  • Miguel Garcia Thanks for your great remark, Miguel, we will cover the FIWARE accelerators in a separate article in the upcoming weeks. 🙂

  • RMagnifico Thanks a lot for the piece of info, it will be featured in the next update.

  • Ryan McInturf

    Great article, I like how you explained the startup scene.  I also wondered if you ever heard of the YEi Start in France accelerator program?

  • arjantupan

    Great list. Just wondering: are these the top accelerator programs, or is this meant to be an overview of what’s available in Europe? If the latter, you should consider adding the :agile accelerator from E.On http://eon-agile.com/

  • Ela Bednarek

    How about http://eu.indiebio.co/ – the projects they accelerate are unbelievable!

  • Ela Bednarek Thanks for sharing! Are you guys a new accelerator?

  • Ryan McInturf Hello Ryan, could you tell more about it? Did you participate in the program?

  • RahulSood Hi Rahul, just wanted to let you know that the list has been updated.

  • Daretostart

    Arthur Gopak 50 partners, The family, Numa…

  • Ela Bednarek

    Arthur Gopak Actually I’m not associated with the accelerator – just been at their event and met the people who run the program in Cork. They just had a demo day of the 2nd batch. If you’d like to learn more, you could contact https://twitter.com/onetruecathal

  • TeodoraMircheva

    Hi Arthur,
    I see you’ve missed Eleven 🙂 We are one of the most active accelerators in Europe with 107 companies so far http://11.me/. Our application window opens on September 1st.

  • Klajdi_kL

    Great list. You should add ABC Accelerator https://abc-accelerator.com/

  • romainamblard

    Missing NUMA in Paris : http://www.numa.paris/sprint

  • Ela Bednarek Thanks for sharing, Ela!

  • Daretostart Do you represent or did you take part in any of these programs?

  • CathrineAsklint

    http://bornglobal.se/ in Sweden!
    Born Global is an accelerator program for ambitious Swedish startups that aspire to go global. The program will put ten startups through an intensive process of Customer Development and Business Prototyping in an effort to accelerate their identification of scalable business models. The methods used are developed by faculty at Stanford University and Chalmers in collaboration with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and Sweden. The program has been running since 2012 accelerating 50+ startups.

  • lln

    Great article! Impulse Labs and Starburst Accelerator are missing… 
    Construction & Energy by Impulse Labs (http://www.impulse-labs.fr/) is a Paris-based accelerator specialized in construction, energy and real estate. 
    Starburst Accelerator (http://starburstaccelerator.com/) is the first aerospace accelerator in the world. It is located in Paris and Los Angeles.
    Both are part of French Tech Ticket programme 🙂

  • lln  Hello there, thanks a lot for dropping us a line! We would be glad to help you out. Could you please drop us a line to ? Wish you a pleasant day, and talk to you soon!

  • romainamblard  Hello Romain, thanks again for leaving comment! I messaged you back but didn’t hear back from you. Let me know if you want to still discuss how we can help you. Cheers! Arthur

  • Klajdi_kL Hello there, appreciate your comment! We would be glad to help you out. Could you please email us via ? Wish you a pleasant evening, and speak to you soon!

  • CathrineAsklint  Hello Cathrine, thank you for sharing your thoughts. We would be glad to help you find companies for your program. Could you please drop us a line at ? Then we will take it from there. Cheers!

  • foreignentrepre

    Arthur Gopak Miguel Garcia Absolutely, FIWARE and EU accelerators rather go in a different article. And contact the startups which have gone through the programs always: research-article to better know the impact and opinions of the accelerators.

  • foreignentrepre

    Arthur Gopak Miguel Garcia Absolutely, FIWARE and EU accelerators rather go in a different article. And contact the startups which have gone through the programs always: research-article to better know the impact and opinions of the accelerators.

  • foreignentrepre

    Hi Arthur, where is the “BEST accelerator programs” coming from? What criteria is being used to get them shortlisted? Or is this just a growing list of all accelerators?
    Thanks!

  • foreignentrepre

    Hi RahulSood Are you an entrepreneur?

  • foreignentrepre

    Hi Selin Yuce, For loans you can always go for a bank or F&F. Notice that in the case of EU there are EU-backed loans offered from some banks.  Google “EU financing instruments”. Out of all accelerator-calls out there, I think I have seen some which mentioned loans, but not any of the “best”. Still as Arthur Gopak says, you may have room for negotiation… but IMHO that is only if you are a top-notch, and by that I mean one of the former founders of an unicorn (in which case you wouldn’t need a lona 😉 ).

  • adrienmc

    Arthur Gopak Hello Arthur. I may

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