18 of the Best Hardware Accelerators to Launch Your Business
Today we are going to focus on the 18 best accelerators for entrepreneurs interested in creating a physical product. Accelerators reached an amazing amount of publicity and fame after the success of Uber in 2011, but now we see that the tides have turned from software, services and app accelerators to hardware accelerators. Here is a list of the 18 best hardware accelerators around the world for 2017 to help you succeed with your business.
What’s the difference between accelerators and incubators?
The best way to determine if a program is an accelerator or an incubator is to find out if there’s a designated end date for the program. If the program ends after 3-4 months it’s an accelerator, but if the program does not have an end date and offers to mentor it is an incubator. Most entrepreneurs attend incubators before entering an accelerator. This is because incubators emphasize becoming successful at the right pace.
Another great difference between accelerators and incubators is whether you’re offered startup capital in exchange for equity in your company. The true goal of an accelerator is to grow the size and value of your company as fast as possible to prepare for the first round of seed funding.
PCH Highway1 Location: San Francisco, CA
This San Francisco-based accelerator is backed by PCH, one of the world’s largest manufacturing outsourcers. It attracts an impressive amount of startups and mentors due to its Bay Area location and its team of hardware experts. There, you can meet people like VP Brady Forrest, founder of Ignite, or Scott Norman, a rocket scientist at SpaceX. The program offers investment of more or less 50 000$ in exchange for equity. They usually accept around 12 startups for their 4 months program.
Hax Location: Shenzhen, China
This is the world’s first hardware accelerator. They also claim to be the most prolific one. They offer an 111 days program. Based in Shenzhen, it allows you to be very close from Chinese factories. The Demo Day takes place in San Francisco in front of the press and qualified investors. Hax offers up to $100k and takes 9% equity.
Alchemist Accelerator Location: San Francisco, CA
The Alchemist Accelerator is an accelerator exclusively for startups whose income comes from companies, not consumers. The accelerator focuses on sales development (direct and online), market validation, and a structured path to fundraising. The backers of Alchemist are Cisco Systems, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Foundation Capital, Mayfield, Khosla Ventures, Salesforce, Sapphire Ventures, Siemens, Tyco, and US Venture Partners. Important point: while they’re invited to be part of the program, the startups have no rights nor obligations to take money from them.
Hardware.co Location: Berlin, Germany
HARDWARE.co is a global community and accelerator for entrepreneurs, industry professionals, and makers dedicated to the creation of innovative hardware products and companies. HARDWARE.co supports early stage startups. It doesn’t take equity or provide money to the teams. The accelerator program is an intensive 14-day program packed with networking, workshops and one-on-one interaction with more than 40 mentors and professionals.
R/GA Accelerator Location: New York, NY
The R/GA Accelerator is designed for startups developing connected hardware products and software services with the goal of helping them to build businesses and brands that can scale. It is a three-month, immersive, mentor-driven program. Companies receive support from industrial design firms Astro Studios and PCH, which design custom manufacturing solutions for startups and Fortune 500 companies. The participation of these leaders in the IoT space combined with the support of R/GA’s technology, product design, and marketing talent provides startups in the program a good advantage over their competitors.
EcoMachines Location: London, UK
EcoMachines is a technology investment fund that aims to transform the early-stage funding model for hardware and engineering companies. EcoMachines focuses on early-stage startups, in the high-value manufacturing and advanced engineering space. The accelerator program lasts nine months and provides participating startups with £100,000 in equity funding as well as access to mentorship, industry partners, and an investor network. Successful graduates of the accelerator program are eligible for follow-on funding of £500,000. The incubator is focused on companies working in energy, cleantech, transportation and industrial high-tech fields.
Lemnos Labs Location: San Francisco, CA
Lemnos Labs is a six to fifteen months rigorous program that builds your engineering, logistics, marketing, and go-to-market expertise. Eric Klein, a founding member, has a long history of building cutting-edge software and hardware (Nokia, Palm, Bungee Studios). This San Francisco-based program offers up to 250k$ in funding with a 10 percent equity. It admits up to 12 startups per year. It focuses on robotics, aerospace, agriculture, transportation, and IoT, for both B2C and B2B.
Usine.io Location: Paris, France
Usine IO is a 1500 sqm innovation and hardware prototyping platform located in the heart of Paris. With a subscription-based business model, it is a resourceful place dedicated to hardware technologies & startups. Usine IO is the launchpad for any hardware product (hardware, furniture, IoT, clean tech, healthcare, Robotics…).
ReadWrite Labs Location: San Francisco, CA
ReadWrite Labs is the world’s first accelerator focused especially on the Internet of Things and wearables. Formerly named Wearable IOT World Labs, it’s a 15-week program. ReadWrite Labs boasts a 90% funding rate, with more than $85 million in outside investment. Of 11 crowdfunding campaigns conducted by startups enrolled in the program, all met their targets, raising more than $5.5 million. In addition to their San Francisco Lab, they opened two new programs in Hong Kong and Shenzhen (China).
Buildit Location: Estonia
Buildit is the first accelerator in the Baltic States and Nordic countries with a focus on physical devices. Buildit runs two 3-month programs annually in Tartu, followed by a month-long “roadshow” in the US, China, and the UK, to meet investors and potential partners. Startups can apply from anywhere, although there is an emphasis on Eastern Europe and Russia. Buildit invests €15,000 for 5-10% equity, €20,000 in return for 9% or €25,000 in exchange for 12%. For companies that already have funding, Buildit offers participation in the program with no investment for 2% of company shares. The participating startups receive free office space at the Tartu Science Park and prototyping facilities.
PNP IOT Location: San Francisco, CA
Plug and Play IoT is a 12-week startup acceleration program based in the Silicon Valley. PNP and participating corporate partners co-select startups to invite to the Silicon Valley and to join the program. Plug and Play is good for companies of all sizes, whether you need a co-working space for your next gig, an office for 5 to 100 people, or a dry lab for testing. They have a PNP retail program, IOT program and a Mobile & Media Center of Innovation.
TechStars Location: US & Europe (you can pick your location and program)
Techstars is a global network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Through the program, founders connect with other founders, mentors, investors and corporate partners that will help their company grow. But fewer than 1% of companies that apply are accepted. Techstars worked with 1000 startups. Program mentors include Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley, Tumblr CEO David Karp and Hubspot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah.
Y-Combinator Location: San Francisco, CA
Y-Combinator doesn’t target specific types of companies and they don’t break out their companies into different groups by industry. Instead, they help all of their startups make things people want. They’re particularly beneficial to startups making hardware. They help hardware companies quickly create prototypes, test with potential customers, iterate their product, launch in a way that maximizes the likelihood of success, and scale production in response to demand. Unlike some other programs, they will not perform these tasks for you: they have no staff engineers and own zero factories. Instead, YC has identified partners to support hardware startups throughout their product development life cycle.
Industrio Location: Italy
Industrio provides seed fund, professional prototyping development resources, and strong manufacturing support. Startups can get up to €25,000 cash and up to €125,000 for 10 to 15% equity stake. Twice a year Industrio runs a 5-month prototype-to-product program. Startups get feedback on product concepts, prototypes and product development from more than 40 advisors. Industrio has a strong focus on “Italian style”.
AlphaLab Gear Location: Pittsburg, PA
Eight to ten startups participate in the 40-week program at any time. Companies receive $25,000 or $50,000 in exchange for 5% or 9% common stock equity. Each company receives a private office and access to collaborative working spaces and workshop space. Startups have access to a mentor team of 4-6 experts in design for manufacture, supply chain, retail and commercial distribution.
Hardware Tribe Location: Vienna, Austria
Hardware Tribe is an initiative to connect hardware startups, makers, industries and all those interested in bringing ideas to market. The Hardware Tribe is about supporting startups that make physical products. Regular events are held for everyone that is working on a physical product or aims to do so.
NextFab Location: Philadelphia, PA
NextFab is a network of maker spaces. The team launched an accelerator, exclusively focused on hardware. It’s a twelve-week program for four startups, giving technical and business help to entrepreneurs. NextFab invests up to $25k in each accepted team.
Make In LA Location: Los Angeles, CA
Make In LA is an early stage accelerator focusing on hardware entrepreneurship. This is a four-month intensive program, based in Los Angeles. They are backed by NEO Tech, an independent manufacturer of various electronic components that became an engineering solutions provider.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, there are so many additional hardware accelerators that are not on this list. This is only our top 18 picks for national & international hardware accelerators available to entrepreneurs and 3D printing enthusiasts.