Why Sector Specific Accelerator Programmes Work

Why Sector Specific Accelerator Programmes Work

January 23, 2020

Kevin Bazley, Head of Operations at MSIP

Not so very long-ago business accelerators were generic or were focussed on the broad area of Tech. A comparatively recent, very interesting, trend has been the emergence of sector specific accelerator programmes. I’ve been involved in a couple in Scotland myself, in Medical Technology and in AI/Blockchain. In both cases I was concerned that the subject matter was too narrow, but both programmes have proved successful. Narrowing the field of potential participants is more than compensated for by the added value of getting a cohort of companies in related fields to spend a few months together.

Further afield sector specific programmes have become a go to mechanism for corporates looking to generate new supply chain or collaborators; the Kraft-Heinz food company program in Chicago has quickly been followed by rivals Mars launching a programme to accelerate start ups developing healthy fast foods.

Closer to our space, Kaleido has been successfully running an accelerator focussed on logistics technologies, in Vigo, Spain – interesting because it mixes software, service innovation businesses like Traqui and hardware companies – the brilliant ClearPath Robotics being an example of the latter.

At MSIP we will shortly be launching an accelerator programme focussed mainly on Sustainable Mobility. Why is this an early priority for us, when we could be focussing all our efforts on bringing large companies to our site? There are a number of reasons!

We see the accelerator programme as a means to generate a pipeline of potential tenants for MSIP going forward, but even if no companies locate on the site post participation it will bring innovation activity to the site while there is still a substantial manufacturing workforce in place, it will enable us to engage with our University and corporate partners, and it will make a cohort of companies aware of the MSIP offer. Given our ambition to establish MSIP as a key hub for the sector on a UK scale, if we can help companies move their technology and their business forward that will be a win overall, whether they ultimately locate on the site or not.

For our public sector partners Transport Scotland and Dundee City Council, early sight of new technologies which could be piloted to enhance Scotland’s leading UK position and Dundee’s leading position in Scotland in sustainable mobility is of huge interest, while our private sector partners and sponsors are actively interested in supply chain and investment opportunities. The companies joining the first cohort will have a unique opportunity to learn from and lean on our networks and each other.