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Open accelerators for start-ups success: a case study

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate how the context of open innovation offered by accelerators can affect the successful growth of start-ups. The authors explore accelerators practices and tools in sustaining start-ups and increasing survival probability in their innovation process, with the aim of addressing the following research question: how can start-ups benefit from participation in an accelerator programme from an open innovation perspective? Design/methodology/approach: A review of the literature on start-up successes and failures and on major practices in the open innovation paradigm was carried out, delineating them in the context of accelerators. Given the absence of literature on accelerator practices for supporting start-ups, and aiming at a comprehensive understanding of how the open environment within the accelerator influences a start-up’s survival (or even success) by mitigating the probability of failure, the authors conducted an exploratory case study in an English accelerator. Findings: The open innovation practices mediated by an accelerator and the ones that are not covered, but that can benefit a start-up’s survival, are shown. On the one hand, main effective practices, such as dyadic co-creation with accelerator network partners and crowdsourcing, are revealed to address mostly the lack of, or wrong direction in, product, marketing and relative managerial abilities, which are not usually owned by a start-up due to its “newness”. On the other hand, some causes of failures, such as the intrinsic characteristics of founder teams, do not seem to be addressed by an open approach and neither does participation in an accelerator programme. Originality/value: This paper is the first to study and link the literature on accelerators, start-ups and open innovation.

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