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Start-ups have a great influence on the innovative power of our society.

However, they need support in crucial growth phases. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult for start-ups to find the right support in the pool of possibilities. We also believe that many great programmes are not as visible as they deserve to be. For this reason, we decided to create this guide that summarises the key features of each programme to help startups and accelerators find the “perfect fit”.


Hey startups, we would like to support you

Start-up scene, the name says it all. It seems like everyone knows everyone and many things happen through personal networks. But once you have discovered how many funding programmes there are for founders and start-ups in Germany, you are quickly overwhelmed at first glance. That’s why we wanted to develop a guide for founders to help you find the right programme for your needs.


“Buzzword” Bingo Goodbye!

Incubator, Accelerator, Innovation Lab, Bootcamp,ÔÇŽ. – The main thing is innovation! Everyone calls it something different, and yet we often talk about the same thing. We have observed that a terminology has taken on a life of its own in the innovation environment that sounds colourful but is not necessarily always helpful. Therefore, we want to pioneer by developing the basis for a reference work on the classification of German innovation programmes.


Accelerators, show us what you have to offer!

Programmes tend to claim that they can offer almost everything – to everyone! This may seem impressive on the website, but we believe that founders are better served in their search for funding programmes if they can quickly understand what expertise a programme can really offer. For once, we’re turning the tables so that startups can learn about their unique USPs from accelerator programmes.


Knowledge is the key to success

Of course, innovation and entrepreneurship, especially in the “start-up” phase, are by definition fraught with a lot of uncertainty and little structure. Nevertheless, we believe that a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial motivations, especially on the part of programme operators, will help the scene as a whole and thus Germany as a business location.



Initiated and carried out by one (or more) companies. The programme is usually part of the participating company’s broader innovation strategy. By working with external innovation providers (“start-ups”), the company can pursue various goals, such as exploring business models or technological developments, achieving process efficiencies, diversifying the core business or retaining technology suppliers at an early stage. Start-ups can count on valuable projects, renowned customers and references as well as valuable feedback from feldon’s product and company development.

Social & Impact

These programmes are on the rise and are aimed at teams and start-ups looking to make a positive impact. They seek sustainable solutions to social challenges and are associated with buzzwords such as social entrepreneurship and sustainable futures. Social & Impact Accelerators are ideal for founders who want to go beyond pure profit maximisation and realise their visions.

Government backed

In programmes of this kind, the participation of public institutions plays a crucial role. This can be done at different levels, e.g. city, state or federal, and pursues one of two main objectives: Promotion of regional economic development or nationwide promotion of selected cutting-edge technologies. Public institutions rarely run their own programmes, but implement their strategy by providing funding to the actors in charge of developing and implementing the programmes. Depending on how operators run and position their programmes, start-ups are likely to find most of the benefits found in other types of programmes.


These programmes are inspired by US seed accelerators. They provide intensive mentoring and coaching for teams with exciting business models in different industries. The selection is competitive and the programme often ends with a Demo Day where pitches are given to investors and partners. Operators take a portfolio approach and provide support and financing against equity. Start-ups benefit from intensive support, investor contacts and an extensive network.


Programmes of this type focus on a specific industry (“vertical”) or on a small segment of an industry. They are characterised by very precisely defined search fields, i.e. they are specialised in a single topic, so to speak. The programmes are tailored to the needs of start-ups in the relevant vertical. Startups whose business is directly related to a vertical can expect deep expert insights and important industry contacts.

University & Research Institution

Programmes in this category have strong academic ties and usually aim to train researchers or students in entrepreneurial topics or to promote the transfer of research results. Support is often tailored to individuals in the pre-start-up phase, while programmes in the other categories almost always require a team of two or three people. Participants learn how to develop and validate their business ideas, acquire entrepreneurial knowledge and possibly find co-founders to implement their business ideas.


Download the PDF version of the Accelerator Guide Germany free of charge.


    If you would like to become part of the guide in the future, you can register on Foundersphere and create your profile throughout the year. If your programme meets the requirements for the guide, we will include you in the next edition or activate your digital profile on the website as soon as possible.
    Click here to register:

    There is constant change in the start-up world, we understand that. Therefore, you have access to your digital profile at any time via our platform. As long as you maintain the data there, the correct data will also appear in the next print edition.

    We are pleased about your interest! Feel free to contact us via the contact form or directly by email (, and we will be happy to discuss the various options for a placement in the guide with you individually.

    We’re sorry that the guide didn’t end up in your inbox as planned. Should this have been the case for you, please write us a short mail to:

    Yes, there is an exclusive print version.

    You can find the print versions in entrepreneurship centres, coworking spaces, accelerator programmes and several other places across Germany.

    Would you like to have your own copy? Then feel free to write us an email at:

    The digital profiles of the accelerator programmes on Foundersphere are managed independently by the programmes, so you always have access to the latest information.

    The print version is published every 2 years.