TechStars Like Accelerators Outside of Software / Internet

Over the past few months I’ve had a number of people ask me if I know of any TechStars like accelerator programs for people creating non-software / Internet products and services.  Some of the obvious vertical markets have been around cleantech and bio / life sciences but some of the more subtle ones have been around government services and non-profits.

I’m interested in examples of accelerator programs in the areas such as cleantech, bio / life sciences, medical devices, university R&D, inner city development, natural foods, women, and non-profit entrepreneurship.  I’m also interested in people in these areas that already providing leadership in their entrepreneurial communities, especially in Boulder, Boston, Seattle, and New York (the cities where TechStars operates.)

If you fit in this mix or know someone or an organization that does, can you leave a comment on this post?

  • John Liddy

    Brad, I am working with an accelerator program in Central NY, largely funded by Syracuse University. We are fostering entrepreneurship amongst the college student demographic. The region has suffered from “brain drain” for years and we are seeking to capitalize on the thousands of bright individuals that have been passing through here annually. If they stay, great. If they don't, we will have happy alumni wth strong relationships to their alma maters. Historically, internet/tech companies were the sole target of such efforts, but we are transitioning into areas such as clean tech and non-profit. I run a 14 week program that provides an experiential learning environment to students, which they now can get credit for. Each team is provided five mentors and students execute their business, rather than discuss their plans. Their efforts culminate in a demo day in front of investors. Thanks for all you are doing to promote the entrepreneurial eco-systems around the US.

  • We operate an accelerator type program called E-Tech Ventures. We focus on University R&D commercialization primarily around hard engineering disciplines like mechanical, electrical, materials etc. The vertical markets we look at include Energy, Advanced Materials, Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace and Defense. While We are located in Lexington, KY, which gives us access to engineering talent and innovations at places like the University of Kentucky, Purdue University, Oak Ridge national lab and the Air Force Research labs in Ohio, our model is to build out regionally/nationally similar to the way Techstars has scaled. We invest a small amount of cash and significant management assistance to advance these interests.

  • Andrew Ice

    Accelerator in Seattle is a good example for biotech.

  • Hi Brad,

    The Kauffman Foundation is just beginning to incubate founders of scalable enterprises. Through Kauffman Labs, they starting with education and will be rolling-out to different verticals over the coming years (food industry, green tech, etc):

    Kind Regards,


  • @kicklabssf


    Prescience Int'l runs a program in San Jose

  • Maybe you consider an incubator to be too different from an accelerator, but consider

    Mission Statement: The mis­sion of La Cocina is to cul­ti­vate low-income food entre­pre­neurs as they for­mal­ize and grow their busi­nesses by pro­vid­ing afford­able com­mer­cial kitchen space, industry-specific tech­ni­cal assis­tance and access to mar­ket oppor­tu­ni­ties. We focus pri­mar­ily on women from com­mu­ni­ties of color and immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties. Our vision is that entre­pre­neurs will become eco­nom­i­cally self-sufficient and con­tribute to a vibrant econ­omy doing what they love to do.

  • GoodCompany Ventures is a Philly based incubator for for-profit companies that are address unmet social needs. Companies are not all tech focused..

    About: GoodCompany Ventures catalyzes start-ups with innovative solutions to big, unmet social needs. GoodCompany entrepreneurs are offered a great place to work in Philadelphia, a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, and access to a network of capital sources and expert advisors. We champion models that offer investors financial return and social impact.

  • Jenna Puckett

    Can't wait to see you speak tonight in Durham! There's a social entrepreneurship incubator named Bull City Forward run by Christopher Gerkin in Durham. They have some for-profit and some nonprofit ventures. (

  • Charlie Kelly


    Sandbox Industries put on the Excelerate program this past summer and worked with several consumer-focused tech/non-tech start-ups in the greater Chicago area.

  • Charlie Kelly


    Sandbox Industries put on the Excelerate program this past summer and worked with several consumer-focused tech/non-tech start-ups in the greater Chicago area.

  • Probably a more interesting resource is our partners page ( We are currently working with 80+ Partners around the world, most of which are accelerator and incubator type programs working with entrepreneurs across sectors – the one thing they have in common is all of them are focused on working with entrepreneurs who are tackling social (i.e. poverty, shelter, famine, healthcare, financing) and or environmental issues. Hope that helps

  • The link is . Putting the parenthesis around it made it not work

  • In Colorado there are three that come to mind for bio / life sciences:

    CSU Ventures – Ron Marler
    Colorado Institute for Drug Device and Diagnostic Development (CID4) – Richard Duke
    Boulder Innovation Center . – Tim Bour

    Each could be considered more incubator-like than accelerator, but use the local expertise to get companies started and funded.

  • Brad,
    We are hoping to launch an education technology mentor program in Boulder in the summer of 2011. Details soon!


  • For biotech, in Colorado you have the CID4 and the other organizations mentioned by M. Hart;; in Boston, you have those groups associated with the MASSBio org; in Seattle, it's the Washington Bioscience and Biomedical Association. Unfortunately, with the high capital requirements to develop a new drug ($800 million (Y2003 $) and a long time frame (8-10 years or longer) we could all hope that there was an acceleration in the process. Biosciences / life sciences center around hubs throughout the U.S. The major hubs are similar to those TechStar areas. The biotech hubs include: Boston/Cambridge, Research Triangle, South San Francisco, Boulder, La Jolla/San Diego, New York/New Jersey and a couple others.

  • Hey Brad- loving the book, very relevant to a clean tech startup as well. We're in NYC and plenty of clean techies here. Check this out . I think this is what you are getting at. Wouldn't mind getting your thoughts on our business either 😉 T.R.

  • Check out the Top Gun program in Portland, ME (

  • This is a detailed google map of seed accelerator programs from all over the world:…

    • Ty Danco

      Really like the map. The best part of the map is the fact that it can’t keep up with all of the accelerators. One which I am looking at more closely is Real (as in MontREAL) Ventures, which has an accelerator (which they call “Founders Fuels”, essentially a TechStars concept) with followup funding (of about $45mm just raised) of follow-on capital. The fund can be found at, and coming up shortly is “Le Defi des Anges Financiers”, or
      Angel Investor Challenge”, which is essentially the top 12 companies coming out of a competition doing a demo day. This December 8th, If people want more info, you can reach me @tydanco.

  • Hi Brad,

    In Toronto there is [email protected] and the Centre for Social Innovation. Both incubate social enterprises [non profit and for profit] in the fields you've mentioned. Our learning game company, Heliotrope, has benefitted greatly from both organization's support.



  • Though not the same format as Techstars, in London, TheNextWomen has a strong (but expensive) mentorship program for women starting tech and non-tech businesses. Also, London Business School runs Entrepreneurship Summer School (aimed at evaluating idea feasibility, developing a plan, and raising investment)

  • Enrico Cacciorni

    I have been looking for an incubator / accelerator in non-internet / software in Colorado and the only ones that I’ve seen getting closest to the TechStars model are Boulder Innovation Center ( and eSpace for aerospace tech (; I know that CU, DU, CSU and CSM also have their own incubators, but my understanding is that they deal with very early stage technologies, often still in the R&D stage.
    In the UK I have worked with Anglo Scientific (, which is an incubator of clean and med tech; they are different from TechStars as they identify world calss early stage technologies and build a company around them, but they have been reasonably successful and have an interesting business model.

  • paola


    I am working on the development of a great internet project related to women/moms that will be lauched shortly internationally.

  • We’re building an industry agnostic accelerator of sorts at – we help first time founders anyplace, in any field, plan new businesses via private coaching, self-directed classes, and content/tools.

  • BioDesign at Stanford
    Deshpande Center at MIT
    Venture Mentoring Service at MIT

  • Yasin suresi
  • Leslie Kimerling

    for social entrepreneurship here in Boulder, The Unreasonable Institute:

  • Vivek Chandrasekhar

    Not sure you have heard about The Sid Martin BioTech Incubator in Gainesvile, Florida. ( They have been quite succesful in incubating biotech startups over the years. But I am afraid it isnt exactly the Techstars model. Also, The Cade Museum (founded in honor of Gatorade inventor) awards 50K a year and one year of free incubation .

  • Ryan

    There’s a great organization right in your backyard working on non-profit entrepreneurship through a bootcamp / microlending model:

    Let me know if I can connect you.

  • There’s a unique incubator in Dallas-Ft. Worth that focuses on purpose-driven businesses. Purpose being entreprenuers who have a real burning passion for their business concept. Succeed on Purpose(r) incubated 8 businesses in 2010, 7 of which are achieving their goals in the first year. In addition to entering into a 5-year training program, incubated business owners are also assigned a business advisor and given seed capital.

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  • Vic Gatto

    I’m a founder of an accelerator focused on the opportunity in the Commercialization of R&D located in Oak Ridge, TN (next to a big DOE lab). We plan to run a TechStars like program in year 2 or 3, but that will be phase 2 of the effort. I believe it would be premature to launch until we have the tech transfer process running efficiently (it is very slow now). Phase 1 is to create an assembly line moving basic science out into private companies and then leveraging federal grant capital to develop this science into useful, commercially viable technology. We then will launch our accelerator and allow the entrepreneurs to build companies with our tech as building blocks.