Backed by the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative, Accelerator Assembly was officially launched yesterday. Based in London and led by Seedcamp, TechStars, Startup Weekend, Bethnal Green Ventures, Seed-DB, Nesta and How to Web, Accelerator Assembly is a pan-European network for accelerators with the objective of “sharing best practices and learnings on how to improve knowledge on accelerators and web startups across Europe.” The Assembly will ultimately strive to connect programs, generate new research on accelerators and startup growth, and strengthen the policy debate on startups and entrepreneurship across Europe.
Accelerators have obviously been growing leaps and bounds around the globe in recent years and, particularly, in Europe. To give some quick figures, in 2011 Nesta’s Startup Factories report identified 16 accelerators in Europe. According to Seed-DB, this number has more than doubled and there are now 34 (known) active accelerators across Europe. While this is most certainly a positive sign for Europe’s tech ecosystems, like anything, there’s likely to be some that are better performers than others. Having a group dedicated to following and studying them more closely should reveal some useful insights that can be used by both new and established accelerators alike to improve their own performance. Carlos Espinal, a partner at Seedcamp and Accelerator Assembly, drives home the importance of well-run, high performing accelerators to the ecosystem adding:
“Accelerators have now become a key component of early stage startup support and a driver for any ecosystem’s economic progress. We know our programmes have a significant impact on startup growth, but the Accelerator Assembly will help to improve the networking between programs and share research and evidence on exactly what works and why, so that we can share best practises, improve transparency, and ultimately, create more successful and sustainable startups in Europe.”
Neelie Kroes also has thrown her weight behind the Assembly’s work adding:
“Our hope for the economic future lies in startups, innovators and entrepreneurs. Web entrepreneurs will play a vital role in creating tomorrow’s ideas, tomorrow’s jobs and tomorrow’s economic growth. Using innovative technologies and platforms, they build products, create services and develop a multitude of solutions which improve and enrich our professional and private lives on a daily basis. For this reason we are working on strengthening the environment for web entrepreneurs in Europe, and supporting accelerators to deliver high impact programmes is a key part of this.”
The Assembly will get going with three principal activities. First will be an online Yammer forum, sponsored Microsoft Ventures and Yammer, which will enable programs and policy makers to connect. Microsoft is making several moves to further expand its already solid startup-oriented activities (etc more direct startup investment, doubling down on its own accelerator programs, etc), so it’s not surprising that they’d have a key role in this initiative. The second will focus on research on both accelerators themselves as well as accelerator program graduates. And the final piece will be the organization of a European Accelerator Conference, set to take place in next year.
Accelerators can sign-up here and immediately start reaching out to their counterparts via the already active Yammer forum.