Launching a startup is a complicated venture, to say the least. According to multiple studies, more than 90% of startups are not successful and there are many reasons for that, such as not being able to find product-market fit, failure in building the MVP, not pricing it right or failure in the execution, to name a few.
Given their dynamic nature and turbulent business environment, they do not only need to do things right, but also execute them quickly. Furthermore – as we saw in previous articles about impact startups funding – it is critical for startups to get the right type and amount of funding that can accelerate their growth and bring them from Seed stage to a Startup stage.
Fortunately, there are multiple Accelerator programs – intended for supporting entrepreneurs in the early stage of their startup development – that are built precisely for this purpose. In fact, such programs are continuously being launched also in the Impact, Sustainability and Climate space.
What is an Accelerator?
Startup accelerators are fixed-term programs of different duration, which provide early-stage companies with the education, resources and mentorship needed to launch their product to market and accelerate their growth.
Considering all the educational components that Accelerator programs manage to compress in just a few months, they achieve what otherwise might take startups several years of hard work and struggle. At its end, the programs usually culminate in a public pitch event (a.k.a. Demo Day), where investors have the opportunity to get investment from outside investors.
Accelerator programs can be paid or free. Some of them provide seed-investment, too, although this is not always the case. What makes Startup accelerators even more valuable, however, is that their value extends far beyond the duration of the program, becoming the participants part of the accelerator’s network, connecting them to other founders, investors and potential business partners.
Participating in a suitable accelerator program can be the catalyst that fuels startup’s growth not only financially but also technically, from product and business development perspective.
Accelerator programs are proliferating in the recent years, becoming increasingly more niche. As consequence, Impact accelerator programs are continuously emerging, both, from organizations focused on impact specifically, as well as from those established players in the accelerator space, that are tapping into the emerging trend of sustainability and impact.
In this article, we are going to highlight the Accelerator programs in Europe – which are currently open (or opening soon) – with the intention to provide a detailed overview of the different options for Sustainability & Climate-tech startups from the region looking to accelerate their growth and impact.
Impact Accelerator programs in Europe in 2023-2024
What? ClimAccelerator is a global programme giving start-ups access to innovate, catalyse and scale the potential of their climate solutions. Partnering with local organizations, they run both – theme-based and place-based acceleration programs.
Who? Environmental impact-driven, ambitious and scalable startups. Each program has different thematic focus and usually welcomes companies in three different development stages: Early Stage, MVP and Growth.
When? Different starting dates, depending on the program
Terms: Each program provides grants funding. Check their website for more information on available programs in your country and the application terms.
What: Co-organized by CIVITTA, Challenger is a non-equity startup accelerator, helping startups find their product-market fit, paying customers, and raise funding to scale their operations. They run several different programs, including Challenger Green & Digital, looking for tech companies solving challenges in digitalization, cleantech, mobility, agritech, e-commerce, and manufacturing.
Who: Overall, the programs target start-ups in the early stage but already with at least MVP and some traction. Geographic focus: CEE.
Where: Depending on program (to this date, most of the programs run in Estonia, Slovakia and Ukraine)
Terms: Equity free, providing up to 20k EUR grant or convertible loan. Check in their website for more information about the available programs.
What: Pre/seed fund and investment program for climate tech startups accelerating our world to a net zero future. Powered by Founders Factory, this program focuses on five major areas: Decarbonising the grid, Fixing food and agriculture, Electrifying transportation, Cleaning up industry & buildings and Protecting nature & removing carbon.
Who: Startups from all over the world are welcome, although major focus is on Europe
Where: in person (London) or virtually
Terms: Three pilars of support: 250k Eur cash investment, 6 months hands on operational support and Grants support to help achieve equity free additional financing.
What: The G-Accelerator Program is looking for next generation entrepreneurs with innovative and disruptive ideas that are intent on launching a business with Triple impact. The current Program Verticals are: Sustainable Businesses, Circular And Proximity Economy, Sustainable Cities And Communities, Health And Wellbeing, Responsible Production And Consumption and Quality Education.
Who: Founders who care about improving the world and society through sustainable business models that are socially, economically and environmentally responsible.
When: Impact Call for 2023 program is currently open. 6-months program. Starting date not announced.
Where: Hybrid (Bootcamp, Opening and Demo-Day in Barcelona)
Terms: The program offers 230h of Training, 240h of Mentoring, Networking and Financial support (3,000 Eur for additional mentoring).
What: Branding itself as the world’s leading accelerator for impact startups, with this program Norrsken (one of the most prominent impact VCs in the continent) has the mission to find and scale the world’s most promising impact startups.
Who: Pre-seed to early-seed startups that leverage technology to create and scale innovative solutions to new and old societal and environmental challenges.
When: in 2024 – TBA (2023 program is running from July to September)
Where: in Stockholm
Terms: Program participation is free of charge. Selected companies receive upfront investment of $125k. Currently accepting applications for the 2024 cohort. Apply here.
What: With +100 locations, Startupbootcamp is “the largest industry specific” bootcamp accelerator in the world. They support early-stage tech founders to rapidly scale their companies by providing direct access to an international network of the most relevant mentors, partners, and investors in their industry.
Who: Early stage tech founders from a variety of industries including Food-tech, Smart Energy, Mobility, Sustainability, among many others.
When: Different starting dates depending on the program.
Where: London, Berlin, Amsterdam and many others
Terms: Tailored 3-month accelerator programs. Check more in detail about each particular program.
What: Part of the “largest pre-seed investor in the world”, Techstars Sustainability Paris accelerator is launched with the mission to solve some of the greatest challenges our planet faces today such as climate change, pollution, poverty, disease.
Who: Early stage high-growth startups looking to build a better future thanks to technology, willing to thrive globally.
When: 2 cohorts per year (starting April and September)
Where: Hybrid / Paris
Terms: 3 months program. Stay tuned for the opening of applications for next cohort here.
What: An initiative of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism in Spain and EOI, funded by the European Commission and promoted by IMPACT, its objective is to provide startups, from all sectors, with specialized advisory activities aimed at growing and developing their businesses.
Who: Early stage startups. Targeting companies based in Spain.
When: TBA – call for applicants currently open
Terms: Free 4-months program. Check out the program content and next starting dates here (in Spanish) https://accelerator.isdi.education/eoi-acelerastartups/
What: .wave is a professional accelerator program for start-ups based in the Central-Eastern Europe region aiming to build an eco-sustainable future.
Who: Startups that are environment-conscious & sustainability-focused, have some market validation already, and ideally with B2B focus. Open to startups from the extended Central-Eastern Europe region (Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgarian, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Montenegro, North-Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine).
When: from 02 October 2023 (inauguration) to 05 December 2023 (demo day)
Terms: Check in detail the program plan and apply here.
What: The programme facilitates introductions to customers in the EIT RawMaterials partner network who are willing to adopt innovations. EIT RawMaterials connects local and national ecosystems to the pan-European network of pilot and test infrastructure facilities as well as to potential customers. The programme comprises three phases – Explore, Build and Grow.
Who: EIT RawMaterials Accelerator supports new businesses sharing the vision to develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe. The thematic scope targets companies with innovations in recycling, substitution, processing, mining, and exploration, as well as in the circular economy space.
When: In 2023 they are running two cohorts, the second one being open for applications until 11 September 2023.
Where: 5 regional hubs covering the wider European region.
Terms: Funding amount for Phase 1 is EUR 10 000, while for Phase 2 and Phase 3 will be a combined amount of EUR 80 000. Check more information about the program and apply here.
What? WorldStartup is a global entrepreneurship platform offering support programmes and unlocking resources for changemakers to grow their business and foster a positive impact on society and nature.
Who? Purpose driven and ambitious impact founders.
When? Different starting dates, depending on the program
Where? Remote and in-person (The Hague, the Netherlands)
Terms: They run different programs throughout the year, focused on accelerating and scaling impact startups. Check their on-going programs.
What: The Global Entrepreneurship Centre (GEC) addresses the scaling challenges faced by promising deep-tech startups with a clear focus on sustainable development goals, circular economy and climate protection from all over the world. In this call, the solutions they look for are within following five areas: Mobility, Food & Agriculture, Textile, Energy, Building and Living. They run two types of programs: Catalyst program (Pre-Seed / Seed) and Factory program (Seed / Series A).
Who: Founders driven to make a difference.
When: Program starts by mid-November (Application process from 7 to 28 August)
Where: Virtual and in-person (Düsseldorf, Germany)
Terms: Participants receive up to € 200,000 to power their scale-up journey (grant and convertible loan investment as in-kind services) + many benefits, perks and partners services. Check more information about the programs here.
What: Five-months accelerator program aiming for companies building the sustainable food system, falling within one of the following categories: Plant-based, Product Precision, Fermentation Cellular, Agriculture Ingredient Creator, Tech Enabler.
Who: Early stage companies with initial product created, market validated through early sales and ready to scale, with big idea and unique IP.
When: Rolling admissions, while the program runs twice per year.
Where: Option to participate in the program remotely or in-person in Paris (or in one of the other offices: Singapore and New York)
Terms: USD$125K Cash Investment and USD$75K In-kind Investment. In addition, they invest up to USD$2.5M + follow on funding for our top performing companies. You will also receive 5 months office space in Paris and access to a Test Kitchen facility to refine and adjust your product.
What: This is a different type of Accelerator program, brought by 4WARD.VC, the same organization that stands behind The Startup Tank Climate Investor Pitch Show. Lead by Matt Ward, serial entrepreneur and climate-tech startups startups advisor and investor, the Accelerator is structured in an intense 10 weeks program.
Who: Climate-tech pre-seed and seed stage startups with big global ambitions.
When: The program runs continuously. You can apply any time. Only 1-2 companies are accepted per month.
Terms: The program is free of charge. Investment: for Seed companies: $100k for 5% with SAFE; for Pre-Seed companies: $50k for 5% with SAFE. Plus, 4WARD.VC’s syndicate will have the chance to add $100-200k to your round.
What? Accelerator programs for tech impact-driven startups with focus – among others – on Climate (Katapult Climate Accelerator) and Ocean (Katapult Ocean Accelerator).
Who? Tech start-ups with a positive impact on the world
When? Several thematic programs, each with different starting dates.
Terms: 90 days programs. Check out the terms of each of the individual programs.
What? Global startup accelerator, running thematic programs with focus on different sectors such as: AgTech, Energy, Food & Beverage, Health, Mobility and Sustainability.
Who? Start-ups and scale-ups in different stage of development (from seed to Series C)
When? Different starting dates, depending on the program
Where? Multiple locations across the world
Terms: Check out the requirements of each individual program.
What? The world’s largest pre-seed startup accelerator. Its core program lasts 4-month and is split into tracks with unique milestones and sprints.
Who? Founders at pre-seed stage; both – solo founders or small teams – are welcome. Even though it is not Impact specific, impact-driven businesses are among the most encouraged to participate in the program.
When? Different starting dates, depending on the program
Where? Multiple locations (celebrated virtually)
Terms: Different application deadlines, depending on location (i.e. deadline for the next cohort in Eastern Europe 2023 is 08 October 2023). Check their FAQ section for more information about terms, conditions and fees.
What? This is Founder Institute’s specific program focused on Impact and Sustainability.
Who? Aspiring entrepreneurs, solo entrepreneurs or small teams get their initial traction and funding.
Terms: The 2023 program is pending to be announced soon. For more information on the previous year’s program and to pre-register for the next edition, you can have a look here.
What? Launched by European Innovation Council (EIC) – EU’s flagship innovation programme – EIC Accelerator supports individual SMEs, in particular Startups and spinout companies to develop and scaleup game-changing innovations. Acting more like a funding program, EIC selected companies receive coaching, mentoring, access to investors and corporates, and many other opportunities as part of the EIC community.
Who? The EIC welcomes applications from innovators in all EU Member States and countries associated to the Horizon Europe programme. It particularly welcomes applications from startups and SMEs with female CEOs. Impact is a huge component of the EIC program. Among others, the program is aimed at startups tackling several impact challenges: Biomarkers for cancer, Decontamination for pandemic management, Energy storage, New European Bauhaus, Resilient agriculture.
When? Apply anytime
Terms: EIC Accelerator’s funding for 2023 is worth €524.7 million. It provides blended finance, composed of direct equity or convertible loans and a grant component. You can apply for EIC Accelerator funding at any time through the EIC platform. Check out their web for more information.
What: Previously an Accelerator, Maze X is reborn as a new investment programme designed to support newly founded teams to multiply their execution capacity by 3x ahead of their first round of funding. This is a 3-months program of customised support, delivered in a sprint methodology, covering Go-to-market strategy, Business development, Fundraising, Growth levers, Impact measurement.
Who: Very early stage European impact ventures falling within following three broad categories: Healthcare and wellbeing, Future of learning and work, Sustainable production and consumption.
When: Apply anytime
Terms: €100k through a SAFE (20% discount and €5m cap) investment to accelerate your product development, increase sales, and hire your first team members.
What: Equity-free Accelerator for Early-stage startups in CEE & SE. While not entirely focused on impact, most of the verticals are related to impact and sustainability themes, such as: MedTech, EdTech, Climate, Impact and Smart Cities. Program is divided into three parts: Bootcamp, Acceleration, Demo Day & Mentors Retreat, while the most advanced startups can continue with an Investment Readiness program.
Who: MVP stage tech startups based in Central Eastern Europe (CEE) or Southern Europe (SE).
When: The applications for the spring edition of 2023 are closed. Apply to join the next cohort here.
Terms: Programs are free of charge, providing access to Perks & Benefits worth of €150,000+.
What? Sustainable Accelerator provides a unique blend of equity investment together with expert commercialisation support.
Who? Start-ups addressing climate change and resource scarcity.
Where? London (UK)
Terms: Investment in the range of 100-250k £, 12 months of hands-on growth support. The program is open for startups based in (or willing to move to) UK, eligible for SEIS & EIS programs. Check out the requirements of the program.
What? Startup accelerator founded in 2011 that empowers founders from 3 sectors: AgriFood, Energy and Emerging Tech.
Who? Ambitious founders with groundbreaking visions for a regenerative and sustainable future.
When? Different starting dates, depending on the program. Energy: Applications open from 7 August to 6 October 2023. AgriTech and Emerging Tech: next call for applicants expected by early-2024.
Where? Denmark, The Netherlands and Colombia (balance between in person and remote)
Terms: Successful companies get €135,000 funding as part of their 4-month program. Separate programs with different requirements, depending on the niche.
What: This is a 3-month acceleration programme for B2B agrifood startups with access to the ecosystem, learning resources, and investment readiness support.
Who: Early-stage and later-stage technology-oriented startups with innovative ideas to disrupt the agtech sector. International startups from all around the world are welcome to apply.
When: Next Acceleration Program starts on 27 November 2023.
Where: The program is hybrid (3 out of 12 weeks are in presence in Hannover, Germany).
Terms: They take no equity and it is cost-free. A grant of € 6k supports participation to the acceleration phase and additional funds are assigned to startups for the project phase up to € 40k. Deadline to apply: 1 August 2023.
What? SocialFare Seed is a private seed investment vehicle founded by impact investors – who invest in startups – selected and accelerated by SocialFare. They work hands-on with the startups in order to boost their businesses and make them VC-ready.
Who? Social impact startups, ventures able to develop innovative solutions to tackle contemporary societal challenges.
When? On-going. Check on their website if there is an open call and apply
Terms: 4-month acceleration program. €100K seed funding in exchange for equity from 5% to 15%. Twice a year they launch a call to select and assess candidates.
What? Online Accelerator program open for startups solving social, health or environmental problems and contribute towards achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
Who? Entrepreneurs and innovators solving problems in sustainability, education, job creation, healthcare, food and nutrition, wellness, financial inclusion, gender equality and diversity.
Terms: Program fees: $799 (which includes over $50,000 in partner perks). Apply here.
What? GreenUP is an ambitious accelerator, sponsored by The Danish Industry Foundation. The program is significantly longer than most accelerators and its intention is to lead its participants from prototyping all the way to international scaling and a Series A investment in 20 months.
Who? Climate-tech startups contributing to reducing carbon emissions.
Where? Copenhagen (Denmark)
Terms: The 2023 program has already begun. Join the waitlist and apply for GreenUp 2024.
What: 9 month accelerator for underrepresented founders in Europe to scale their impact startup. Selection is based on four main criteria: Founder team, Problem & Market, Impact & User focus. Businesses shall have a scaleable business model.
Who: Any early or growth stage for-profit company, registered in the continent Europe (including the UK), that has social and/or ecological impact with at least one underrepresented founders.
When: Stay tuned for the next Cohort application announcement.
Terms: Impact Shakers will invest 25k Eur in the selected businesses through their own microfund.
What? Early-stage Accelerator with 3-months on-site program of intensive learning – happening twice per year (one in Spring and one in Autumn) – divided into 6 sprints.
Who? Open for tech-empowered scalable businesses with the intention to drive positive social and environmental outcomes.
When? TBA. You can pre-register interest here
Where? London (UK)
Terms: £30k investment for 7% equity. Check on their website for application terms.
What? The EIT Urban Mobility Accelerators consist of five thematic EU-funded programmes implemented through partners to take early-stage mobility startups to the next level. The themes are: 5G technologies, City logistics, E+ mobility, Energy & Public realm and Urban air mobility. Program duration: 6 months.
Who? Early-stage startup-teams with business ideas that reduce congestion and increase efficiency in the transport system, aiming to accelerate the transition to low- or zero-emission forms of transport – and with all other possible ideas that help to solve mobility-related problems.
When? TBA (next call for applicants expected by early-2024)
Where? Different locations for each program
Terms: 30k Eur worth of support services. For more information, check each one of the programs.
We will keep providing you up-to-date information on Accelerator programs in the areas of Impact, Sustainability and Climate. Keep checking back for regular updates, so you won’t miss any valuable opportunities to accelerate your startup journey!