Increasingly, the global tech and cybersecurity startup space is populated with ‘accelerators’ and ‘incubators’. These separate but frequently overlapping programmes assist new enterprises in a myriad of practical ways that facilitate the future growth and success of businesses and propel companies to the scale up stage.
AustCyber’s Sector Competitiveness Plan (2017) has identified that in order for Australia become a global market leader in cyber security, Australia needs to “create more innovative cyber security startups and help them grow into mature, market-ready and internationally competitive businesses”. Accordingly, AustCyber has prioritised the development of the scale and maturity of cybersecurity incubators and accelerators across Australia that will support the future commercial growth of Australia’s cyber security ventures.
Incubators typically offer access to low-cost, co-working space which is available to startups for an indefinite period of time and are designed to offer founders a strong collaborative work environment as they begin to build out their company. Incubators provide supportive and community-oriented programmes, including events and broad access to mentoring and entrepreneurial networks. Incubators typically do not offer capital to startup companies.
Accelerators offer highly targeted programs and services to early-stage companies to help them refine their product offering and accelerate their business. Typically, these programmes are intensive and feature a structured, sector-specific programme offered on a short-term basis. Entry into accelerators tends to be competitive, with programmes aimed primarily at assisting companies with rapid product or solution validation. Unlike an incubator, accelerators typically take an equity stake in participating companies. Programme offerings can include in-depth mentoring opportunities, networking with potential customers and investors, and practical advice on how to refine product offerings and scale a business.