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The Future of Incubators and Accelerators in a Post-pandemic World

Published On
June 2, 2023
Read Time
Jay Magdani

2020 brought unprecedented challenges for businesses and pushed them to think outside the box. It forced them to adapt to the ever-changing landscape.

The startups and small businesses were hit particularly hard.

However, the pandemic also allowed businesses to innovate and solve their problems creatively. Thus, the role of incubators and accelerators became even more critical for early-stage companies.

As we look towards a post-pandemic reality, the role of incubators and accelerators remains as vital and intact as ever. In this blog, we'll explore the following:

  • the future of incubators and accelerators in the post-pandemic world,
  • how they have adapted to the challenges,
  • and what changes can we expect to see going forward?

Challenges Faced by Incubators and Accelerators During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the traditional model of incubation and acceleration, which relied on in-person interactions, networking, and shared physical spaces.

Hence, incubators and accelerators had to rapidly adapt to the pandemic's challenges to continue supporting their startup cohorts. 

Let’s look at these challenges. 

1. Impact on the cohort-based model of incubation

Cohorts typically consist of a group of startups who join the program simultaneously and go through the incubation or acceleration process together.

This model was disrupted by the pandemic due to travel restrictions and social distancing requirements. It has become challenging for incubators and accelerators to build networks, access resources, and receive mentorship.

2. Uncertainty and economic downturn

The pandemic caused significant economic disruption and uncertainty, making it difficult for startups to secure funding, retain customers, and maintain operations. It became challenging for incubators and accelerators to help startups navigate these unprecedented circumstances.

3. Shifting priorities and business models

The pandemic caused many startups to shift their priorities and business models, requiring them to adapt their programs to accommodate these changes.

4. Access to international markets

The pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and restricted international travel. It is difficult for incubators and accelerators to guide businesses to international markets.

5. Increased need for support

Incubators and accelerators had to ensure that startups get access to the same support and resources as they would in an in-person setting.

This can be difficult when startups work remotely and don’t have access to the same resources they would in a shared physical space.

What Does the Future Look Like: How Incubators and Accelerators Can Overcome These Challenges 

Here are some tips for incubators and accelerators to overcome the challenges faced in the pandemic era and progress:

1. Personalised approach

The days of a one-size-fits-all approach to startup incubation and acceleration are far behind us.

With each startup having its unique vision, skills, and execution capabilities, the traditional cohort-based model is now being disrupted.

Incubators are realising that the deviation between founders' maturity has increased and that the same synchronised support system is not practical for all startups.

Incubators and accelerators must use advanced tools (cloud computing, data analytics, AI, etc.) to enable personalised support.

They also require deeper skills like empathy to deliver hyper-relevant learning, mentoring, and connections that move the needle for each startup.

2. Virtual support

Virtual support for startups has become a game-changer for incubators during the pandemic. 

Traditionally, incubators relied on co-working spaces as their core offering, which has become less viable in the current climate.

Startups have adapted to remote work and continued developing their products, connecting with customers and raising funds online. Incubators and accelerators have had to follow suit by offering virtual mentoring and workshops.

This shift has enabled incubators to reach a larger number of startups, connect with mentors and investors from around the world, and tap into transnational startup ecosystems.

The result is a more connected and globalised startup ecosystem than ever, powered by digital communication and collaboration technologies.

3. Domain expertise in depth

Innovation is needed in areas like public health and education, and many countries strive for self-reliance in their priority sectors.

Incubators and accelerators are recognising the importance of deep domain focus to support these startups.

Providing more than just business support, they now offer deep industry and technology expertise to help startups succeed.

Also, to stay competitive, generic incubators and accelerators must up their game and develop partnerships to cover the vast terrain of industry and technology capabilities.

4. Inclusivity

Incubators must embrace inclusive entrepreneurship to drive economic growth in small towns and villages, with a focus on supporting social enterprises and empowering women entrepreneurs.

The key to success lies in providing affordable and high-quality mentoring, regardless of founders' backgrounds or locations.

To Sum It Up

The need for incubators and accelerators that can adapt to changing times and support startups in a personalised, inclusive, and deep domain-focused manner is more critical than ever.

Scalix is an integrated platform for startup founders that offers all these and more. 

With Scalix, you can partner with us in your journey from startup to scale, and we will provide you with business-building components like capital, community, and convenience.

Our personalised approach can help you quickly and efficiently prepare your first business plan while ensuring it is impactful. 

Learn more about how Scalix can support you and your startup.

Contact us today!