Strategy & Innovation

How do you structure a startup acceleration program?

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This article explores in detail what an accelerator program is, its importance for startups, how it works and how it can be structured to maximize its effectiveness.

What is an acceleration program?

Definition and objectives

An acceleration program is a support program designed to help early-stage startups move up a gear. It is often a short, intensive cycle in which entrepreneurs and their teams benefit from coaching, mentoring, technical resources, financing and a network of contacts (entrepreneurs, capital investors, experts, etc.). The main aim of gas pedals is to speed up the development of startups, their product or solution, and facilitate market access within a short timeframe.

What is an incubation program?

The aim of an incubation program is to offer long-term support to startups in their initial phase. These programs help entrepreneurs and their teams turn their project into a reality by converting their idea into a viable, working business model. Unlike gas pedals, incubators provide resources over a longer period, enabling more gradual growth without the intense pressure of tight deadlines.

Incubator or Accelerator?

The main distinction between these two support programs (incubator and gas pedal) lies in the nature of the support and the development phase of startups, or innovative SMEs, and their managers. Incubators are best suited to nascent ideas requiring initial development and fine-tuning, while gas pedals are designed for already-formed companies looking to accelerate their growth and gain rapid access to the market. Gas pedals also tend to offer intensive mentoring and funding in exchange for a stake in the company, which is less common in incubation programs.

Accelerator program: who is it for?

Acceleration programs are ideally suited to companies with a minimum viable product (MVP) looking to optimize their business model, expand their customer base or attract investors. These support programs are particularly beneficial for entrepreneurs who are ready to make a full commitment and evolve rapidly. Unlike incubators, gas pedals are generally open to all companies, whether startups or innovative SMEs.

Why create an accelerator program?

The aim of setting up an accelerator program is to stimulate innovation and contribute to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. For capital investors and economic development organizations, these programs represent a means of helping startups develop, injecting energy into the local economy and discovering future market leaders.

How does a gas pedal make money?

Gas pedals can generate revenue in a variety of ways, including equity stakes in accelerated companies, participation fees, or government subsidies. Equity participation, where the gas pedal receives a share in the company in exchange for its initial investment and services, is particularly common.

Why do startups fail?

There are many reasons why startups fail, including a lack of market for the product, internal management problems, insufficient funding, lack of access to equity investors or the wrong approach to the market. A good accelerator program aims to mitigate these risks by providing expertise, resources and mentoring in areas such as marketing, business development and financing. All with the aim of consolidating the rocket's base and enabling it to take off, whatever the thrust (hyper-growth or not).

How to structure your program?

Structuring an effective acceleration program involves clearly defining startup selection criteria, designing a robust roadmap, involving high-quality mentors and ensuring post-program follow-up.

Flexibility to adapt to the specific needs of startups is also necessary, as not all face the same issues: fund-raising support, the need for international advisors to access the whole world, finding sustainable partnerships with other players in the ecosystem, the need for substantial funding for technology startups, the need for operational support, etc.

A 3-step action plan

1. Diagnosis and strategy

In this first stage, you need to analyze in detail the specific needs of each startup you support. You need to understand their strengths, any weaknesses they may have, and the opportunities available to them.

This detailed analysis will enable you, as a gas pedal, to define a strategy tailored to the specific contexts of each startup, and to draw up customized strategic plans to help them achieve their goals in an efficient and straightforward way.

2. Support

In this second part of your mission, your role is to provide personalized, tailor-made support for each startup, with the aim of fostering their growth and helping them overcome any obstacles that may stand in their way.

This implies proactive and determined implementation of the various strategies defined during the initial diagnosis. However, it's not simply a matter of applying a standard formula. On the contrary, your role also involves being flexible and adaptable, making adjustments and adaptations in response to changing circumstances and specific needs.

Surround your startups with industry experts, former entrepreneurs and coaches, enabling them to capitalize on their experience, skills and advice.

3. Key account partnerships

As part of an Open Innovation approach, boost interaction between your startups and major corporations. These links can encourage the formation of beneficial alliances, which can not only open up new, previously inaccessible markets, but also lead to unprecedented growth opportunities. In this way, your startups can benefit from the influence of established companies.

This matchmaking process can become a powerful catalyst for stimulating innovation and growth in your startups.

Example: CleanTech valley

CleanTech Vallée is an initiative that brings together local authorities and private and public players in the Gard region, focusing on the dynamics of industrial ecological transition. Its aim is to focus on green innovation themes in areas such as decarbonated energies, green mobility and the circular economy.

CleanTech Vallée is a perfect example of a successful accelerator program that supports innovative startups and SMEs in the cleantech sector. With its focus on sustainable innovation, CleanTech Vallée helps selected companies to grow by creating lasting partnerships with local businesses.

The key points of this support :

1. Motivated and aligned teams: for us at Dynergie, consolidate motivating and engaging team members is the best way to achieve common goals. It also ensures that all team members share the same vision and values, which are crucial to the success and growth of any project or company.

2. Local partnerships: in addition to the obvious benefit for the various stakeholders of learning to work together, these collaborations encourage green innovation and the sharing of knowledge in a dynamic ecosystem, conducive to experimentation and rapid adaptation.

Promoting CleanTech Valley and the Booster program: innovation in the cleantech sector is currently mainly driven by the Île-de-France and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regions, leaving little room for other regions. And yet, these industrial regions are in a better position to make use of these innovations. The challenge for Dynergie's teams is to enable CleanTech Vallée to position itself among the most attractive regions, in order to attract talent and mission-driven companies.

Dynergie, a firm that helps you structure your acceleration programs

Dynergie is a key partner in the structuring of acceleration programs. With its in-depth expertise and extensive network, Dynergie helps organizations maximize the impact of their programs, ensuring the rapid and sustainable growth of innovative startups.


Senior consultant in innovation strategies - Projects, Programs, Industry, Nuclear, Cleantech - Lyon, France

Matthieu specializes in a wide range of sectors including industry, nuclear and clean technologies. He currently focuses on the development and implementation of complex projects, bringing to each initiative his diverse skills in innovation strategy, entrepreneurship, design thinking and lean startup.

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