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Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

One of my jobs is advising on the design and execution of accelerators, based both on my own experience doing this, and on my research into accelerators.

A project I’ve been working on is the design of a wellbeing accelerator at Sheffield Hallam University. The program is part of a University Enterprise Zone grant from Research England, and builds on the newly opened Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, nestled in amongst a cluster of sports science, training facilities, and food science research at the Olympic Legacy Park in Sheffield.

As with other programs, and with my writing on this topic, I’ve used ‘startup’ as a shorthand for any participant on the program. In reality, this includes early stage startups, academic spin-outs, and more developed businesses. The deciding factor here is whether they are working on wellbeing, and whether the program can help them meaningfully. …

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Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash

I spent the last few days on video calls with the startups I’m on the board of doing a risk assessment and general strategy session in light of Covid-19. It was interesting to hear input from the other board members and the founders, and, for those of us old enough, to think over lessons from the last financial crisis. Some common points came up throughout the meetings, so I thought it would be useful to share them here.

1. Don’t carry on as normal. Assume the world is changing and will continue to change. Your business needs to adapt to a new reality. The current crisis could last a long time, and could shift through recession into a depression. People’s priorities and habits will change. …

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Many corporate accelerators that I’ve seen choose to select their mentors mainly from within their company. This seems to make sense for a number of reasons. It ensures the value created by the accelerator is retained by the corporate, and keeps new ideas, IP, and opportunities contained. Why would a corporate accelerator invite people not from that company to gain value from their accelerator?

However, my research into accelerators, and my experience building a corporate-backed program, suggests these are misconceptions.

In my PhD on accelerators I looked at how mentoring from a number of aspects. I identified why mentors mentor, concluding that the value they perceive is primarily embedded within the social network of the accelerator, and is therefore expressed as social capital. I also explained how mentoring is a mechanism for knowledge transfer, and a source of what sociology calls non-redundant information for the startups. It is in this non-redundant information that startups in a program find the most value from the accelerator. Non-redundancy refers to information and contacts that the startups do not already have, and which is therefore valuable. …


Tobias Stone @ Newsquare is an innovation agency founded by Tobias Stone. & @newsquare_io

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