Business accelerators

Plug startup innovation into your business

Business accelerators are becoming the cutting edge in innovation advancement. There is growing adoption of this methodology among communities, corporations and investors. The question many soon may be asking themselves when it comes to innovation is, “if you are not accelerating, are you really going anywhere?”

You can go really far without accelerating. The launch and subsequent history of Voyager I on Sept. 5, 1977 tells us this. Voyager I has been traveling our solar system and beyond for more than 40 years, bringing us brilliant images of Saturn, Jupiter and their moons, and gathering a wealth of information from space. It has traveled more than 1.3 billion miles covering more than 10 miles every second. While initially requiring acceleration to reach space, Voyager I hasn’t accelerated since. That doesn’t mean it isn’t going far.

Accelerate in business to move ahead with innovation

The situation is different in business. Twelve years ago, the Y Combinator startup business accelerator was launched with a formula that changed the way many approach innovation. Y Combinator created a recipe of seed investment, collaboration space, and an intensive 90 days of instruction, mentoring and connections. In Boston and Silicon Valley, Y Combinator’s program has helped tech companies create billions of dollars of wealth and is famous for its graduate tech startups like Dropbox, Reddit and Airbnb. To no one’s surprise, many organizations and communities rushed to emulate Y Combinator — Techstars, MassChallenge, AngelPad, and The Bit Factory, which our team at TechGrit designed and operated for the City of Akron.

The success of accelerator programs nationwide has led to many corporations and governments creating similar models. Some accelerators are setting up shop in multiple communities and targeting their applicant pool to specific industries.

Corporate America and governments have traditionally looked at long-term growth. But in today’s tech-fueled environment, competition for dollars is requiring them to become more innovative to move ahead.

Formula for problem solving

It is becoming more evident that accelerators are a formula for problem solving in many realms. With an accelerator program, communities, corporations and investment groups can tap into the inventive, innovative spirit of startups. The startups can use the relationships to make their new company thrive.

The accelerator is a synergistic contract: startups get things they need — cash, mentors, facilities, networks — while a corporation, for example, gets access to new technology and innovative personalities unconstrained by the more regimented corporate environment.

Corporations are discovering that hiring top scientists and providing resources internally is extremely costly with no sure avenue for success. Many corporations have done away with exploratory research altogether with their sole internal focus being incremental product development. They are looking outside for impactful new technologies that create new businesses. Accelerators are becoming the vehicle to do just that.

You don’t have to be accelerating to travel great distances. But in business, acceleration is a new process of identifying and capitalizing on great new opportunities, and pulling away from your competition.

Anthony J. Margida, Ph.D. is CEO of TechGrit AMX2 LLC, an accomplished entrepreneurial ecosystem architect specializing in tech startup programing, business accelerator and hub design, equity investment, organization sustainability, and funding.