Corporate Accelerators: Characteristics and Motives: A case study of corporate accelerators in the context of startup acceleration, business incubation and corporate venturing

Peter Lehmann

Studenteropgave: Kandidatafhandlinger


The purpose of this thesis, is to investigate the recent phenomenon of the corporate accelerators. While the structured support of entrepreneurial ventures is well-covered in business incubation and the research on corporate venturing has captured the entrepreneurial efforts of incumbents in the past, neither body of literature has investigated startup accelerators past acknowledging their existence. Therefore, the study aims to discover the characteristics of corporate accelerators and strives to uncover the underlying motives that incumbents followed when setting up these programs. In order to do so, a number of relevant cases were identified in Germany and analyzed with the help of a qualitative case study methodology. As the acceleration process involved several diverse stakeholders, numerous in-depth interviews were conducted to capture the unique perspectives of entrepreneurs, accelerator managers and incumbent decision-makers. The study finds that corporate accelerator provide entrepreneurs with a unique combination of entrepreneurial know-how, a network of mentors and access to an incumbents unique resources. In exchange, the incumbent receives an equity stake and builds an investment portfolio of entrepreneurial ventures. However, startup acceleration does not only offer financial returns. On the one hand, acceleration enables exploitation by allowing entrepreneurs to leverage the incumbent’s resources in novel ways. On the other hand, it enables the incumbent to conduct exploration by supporting entrepreneurial ventures that are finding novel ways to create value. This establishes the corporate accelerator as a new vehicle for external corporate venturing, not only offering a window on new technologies and the specialized knowledge of entrepreneurs, but also enabling it to extract new value from existing resources. The resulting characterization should enable incumbents to setup their own program with which they can gain strategic and financial benefit from providing a structured support program to early stage entrepreneurial ventures.

UddannelserCand.merc.mib Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Kandidatuddannelse) Afsluttende afhandling
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