Difference between Accelerator Program and Incubator

The business world is full of obstacles that might slow down a startup and even prevent its success. Programs like accelerators and incubators are only two examples of the many initiatives developed to address this problem. These initiatives supply start-ups with the guidance and resources they require to become operational. This article will show that there are significant differences between these two expressions, despite the prevalent belief that they mean the same thing.

What is an Accelerator Program?

These programs are temporary aid packages for startups that connect them with financial backers, experienced advisors, and other resources to help them get off the ground. New ventures' development to the next level of maturity is a goal they hope to help promote. Accelerator programs are common among businesses that have outgrown the startup phase and are ready to operate on their own but would benefit from the guidance and input of their peers.

Start-ups can make use of this program since it gives them entry to shared office spaces, a wide range of logistical, technological, and other resources, and networking opportunities with other businesses.

Below are some examples of accelerator programs −

  • Seed programs − These are geared toward helping younger, less established businesses improve the pillars around which they were built.

  • Second-stage programs − These are designed to provide mature startups easy access to many opportunities and support.

Their terms might be anything from two to six months long.

What is an Incubator Program?

These programs help new firms get off the ground and thrive by encouraging creative problem-solving. These initiatives are often supported by grants from federal agencies, private foundations, and municipal governments. They are not constrained by any time constraints or routines. While some incubators require applicants to fill out an application, others find that referrals from trusted partners work just as well. To further narrow their focus, they might be designed for a specific audience, such as IT startups.

Incubator programs help start-ups by confirming their business strategy, shaping their ideas, and connecting them with other firms in similar positions. Additionally, the programs are long-term, with participants' businesses staying in them for an average of two years.

Differences: Accelerator Program and Incubator

Both these programs provide a solid foundation upon which new firms might build. The following table highlights how an Accelerator Program is different from an Incubator program:

Characteristics Accelerator program Incubator
Definition Accelerator programs are short-term programs designed to provide start-ups with access to investors, mentorship, and other forms of support to help them become stable. The word "incubator" is commonly used in the business world to describe a program that helps fledgling businesses get off the ground by providing them with resources and guidance as they grow.
Purpose Accelerators are designed to help fledgling companies take the next step in their growth. Incubator programs aim to help new enterprises get off the ground and grow by fostering an environment conducive to new kinds of innovation.
Timeframe Typically, accelerator programs last between four and six months. Many startups spend two years in the incubator. These plans have a long-term outlook.
Selection process Accelerator programs have a very strict application and selection procedure. There is no set order for the steps required to apply to incubator programs.
Sponsorship Business organizations oversee the accelerator programs. Funding for incubators is typically provided by government agencies, for-profit corporations, or municipal governments.


Accelerator programs are short-term programs aimed to offer start-ups access to investors, coaching, and other types of support to help them become stable. Two to six months is the typical length of this program, which is meant to ease the way for startups to expand into more established markets. As an alternative, incubators are structured programs that support startup enterprises as they grow and develop into something more substantial. It looks at the big picture and aims to encourage innovation to help startups grow and become sustainable.

Updated on: 06-Dec-2022


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