SFCED | San Francisco Center for Economic Development


How Much Do Startup Accelerators Help Cities?

“The table in the report shows the metros with five or more accelerators, which are also the nation’s leading centers for venture capital investment.  San Francisco tops the list with 34 accelerators…”

Cities have long sought to bolster their innovative and entrepreneurial capacities. In an effort to spur startup activity, many U.S. urban areas have developed tech centers and innovation districts, lured venture capital funds, and launched incubator programs and facilities.

The latest trend in the tech startup economy is the creation of so-called “accelerators,” which act like a Shark Tank school for startups, providing access to mentors and peers along with space and venture funding.

A new report by Ian Hathaway from the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program takes a close look at the spread of startup accelerators across U.S. cities and metros. Hathaway distinguishes accelerators from incubators and co-working programs, defining them as “cohort-based,” “mentor-driven,” “fixed term,” meaning they end with a graduation day when the startups go out on their own (see the chart above). Based on this definition, the study identifies 172 accelerators across the U.S. using data from the high-tech venture capital databases Pitchbook, Seed-DB, Global Accelerator Network, and Accelerate.

Read more: CityLab How Much Do Startup Accelerators Help Cities?

Participants of the "Start Up Chile" program work at their headquarters in Santiago, August 10, 2015. Drawn in by equity-free financing and promises of hands-on mentorship, dozens of female entrepreneurs will head to Chile in the coming weeks to participate in what the government says is the world's first state-run start-up program aimed exclusively at women. It's not the first attempt by Chile to catalyze its start-up scene. Since 2010, the government has awarded over $40 million in seed capital to thousands of up-and-coming innovators, according to its own statistics. Picture taken August 10, 2015. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado - RTX1OJWQ

Participants of the “Start Up Chile” program work at their headquarters in Santiago, August 10, 2015. Drawn in by equity-free financing and promises of hands-on mentorship, dozens of female entrepreneurs will head to Chile in the coming weeks to participate in what the government says is the world’s first state-run start-up program aimed exclusively at women. It’s not the first attempt by Chile to catalyze its start-up scene. Since 2010, the government has awarded over $40 million in seed capital to thousands of up-and-coming innovators, according to its own statistics. Picture taken August 10, 2015. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado – RTX1OJWQ