Special to the California Technology Council and California Business Incubation Alliance
Acceleration has always been about putting an entrepreneur close to the right resources and support networks to close the gap between a good idea and market success. It seems that everyone is accelerating these days.
But the reality is that all accelerators are not created equal. Accelerators are designed to marshal critical resources by a variety of institutions and individuals who are usually pulling from their own networks and core strengths to evolve a successful acceleration environment. A corporate accelerator might have access to a deep R&D bench or to market distribution and insights that give its entrepreneurs an edge in a target market where a university accelerator might have access to a pool of highly talented technical, scientific or business minded mentors that give its entrepreneurs an edge in the set up and planning of a solid business.
Accelerators are differentiated by many factors from their founder intentions to their affiliations to capital, to capacity, to the market or to technological resource and depth but mostly accelerators are defined by their ecosystem. These comparative ecosystem strengths are often clearly understood and there is a strong theoretical case for accelerators to come together to share resources, ecosystems and opportunities in order to collectively take their entrepreneurs to the next level.
The reality is most accelerators don't have the time or resource for co-acceleration - many of them are hard pressed to provide support to their own entrepreneurs.
So the question we are trying to answer is can we virtualize and democratize our acceleration resources? What are the barriers (market and practical) to doing so and what are the mechanisms that might allow for more effective trades between acceleration resources and surpluses? We have some thoughts that need road testing - like exploring the creation of an acceleration marketplace or ecosystem, or perhaps creating a currency or a system of trade for that market. We believe the way to do this is to collect accelerators together and really think about what we might be possible.
Jeff Hamaoui is Partner at the firm FURTHER BY DESIGN. FURTHER runs a variety of acceleration programs for government and industry.