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Capacity Development

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"We examine and discuss the seed accelerator phenomenon which has recently received much attention both in the US and across the globe. While accelerators appear to be proliferating quickly, little is known regarding the value of these programs; how to define accelerator programs; the differences between accelerators, incubators, angel investors and co-working environments; and the importance of the various aspects of these programs to the ultimate success of their graduates, the local entrepreneurship ecosystems and the broader U.S. economy."

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"The third major report from GALI examines the ability of accelerators to drive funds into participating ventures and explores which programmatic choices correspond with superior outcomes. The report shows that in a sample of 52 accelerators, the average flow of incremental funds into participating ventures is significantly greater than the average that flows into rejected ventures. In the majority (but not all) of these programs, this difference exceeds the reported cost of running the program. These superior funding outcomes are accomplished in different ways; many programs are most effective at stimulating revenue growth, while others are best at increasing the supply of outside equity investment. Given these differences in program efficacy and different paths to funding success, we then examine how specific program choices correspond with the ability to drive funds into participating ventures."

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"There is significant evidence that women entrepreneurs face unique challenges in starting and growing businesses, particularly in emerging markets. Acceleration programs represent one potential model for overcoming these challenges through support services and investment. Using GALI data on more than 14,000 ventures across 160 countries, this knowledge brief examines trends in the acceleration of women-led ventures."

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"The number of accelerators has increased considerably in various emerging market countries in the past decade, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. This includes Nigeria, the largest economy in West Africa. One important question then is: are these incubators and accelerators effective in providing support to enterprises in emerging markets, especially youth-led enterprises? This knowledge brief seeks to capture information from our study of incubators and accelerators in Nigeria in relation to their effectiveness in supporting youth-led enterprises."

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"Increasing attention - both in the scholarly literature and in the world of policy makers and practitioners - is being paid to the challenges facing female entrepreneurs. What was once assumed to be a merit-based system for encouraging and rewarding entrepreneurs is now understood to operate in gendered ways that in many cases disadvantage female founders. These effects occur across the entire pipeline, beginning with the dearth of women seeking to start high growth companies, to the lack of funding opportunities and mentorship. There are substantial differences in the number of startups led by women, their levels of relevant experience and the amount of funding - both debt and equity - they seek and receive. Some have argued that women tend to found lower potential startups. Yet, even controlling for quality, we see many implicit biases in how female founders are treated. One important approach to redressing inequalities might be through the use of accelerators. Entrepreneurship accelerators are proliferating in both developed and developing economies as different cities, regions and sectors seek to increase economic growth and employment. Accelerators are designed to give a boost to startups by providing in a concentrated way the mentorship, networks, training and financing required to be successful. The presence of accelerators could have the potential to solve some of the challenges female entrepreneurs face, however preliminary evidence suggests that they, for the most part, seem to be perpetuating the gendered dynamics that exist in the entrepreneurial system. On the other hand, there is no systematic research on how accelerators do or might address the gendered dynamics of entrepreneurship. Because accelerators are seen as such an important policy tool for increasing entrepreneurial success, it is imperative that we develop and analyze systematic data on accelerators and their effects, particularly on female founders. In this study, we will draw on what is known to date on female entrepreneurs and more broadly on the research on gender in organizations and the economy to understand the dynamics of acceleration in entrepreneurship. Using a longitudinal database of over 3,000 ventures in nearly 50 accelerators, we trace the effects of selection into the accelerator and the acceleration process on outcomes for women-only, women-led, and male-only venture teams. We couple survey data with interviews of accelerators to understand whether and when acceleration can be a tool for mitigating gender bias in female entrepreneurship."

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"Business incubation is a growing area attracting substantial interest both from governments and the private sector. Unfortunately, it is difficult for "would-be-entrepreneurs" to operate an informed choice given the large variety in nomenclature, programmes, services offered, underpinning business models, and the frequent lack of availability of performance data, or a common set of metrics that could be used to compute (and provide) widely acceptable KPI useful to facilitate the choice. Additionally, the role of the Information Management System has been under investigated. The present paper presents the research being conducted for the design and implementation of a modular information management system expressly designed to adapt to the needs of business incubators irrespective of the business model and approach adopted. The design is informed of the most relevant different business models presently adopted, the set of services and programmes offered, and the guidelines proposed by the European Union and the CSI federation. Best practices adopted in the UK and Europe have also been considered along with Cabral-Dahab principles. Finally, we identified a set of metrics that can be easily collected and used to generate valuable KPI able to support both the business incubation management as well as the applicants."

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"Over the past 15 years, accelerators emerged as a popular and distinct new form of intermediary organization, playing a key role in supporting entrepreneurial and innovation activities. To date, despite significant growth in accelerators research, there is still little understanding of how different forms of accelerators operate, and what outcomes they produce across different contexts. This paper reviews the existing scholarly research on accelerators using the Context-Intervention-Mechanism-Outcome framework and is based on the analysis of 98 research papers on accelerators published in the last 15 years. The analysis identifies four mechanisms which explain how accelerators operate and the role they play in supporting entrepreneurship and innovation: the validation of ideas and products; the provision of product development and models learning; the provision of support to increase startups' market access and growth; and the provision of support for innovation. The paper identifies the methodological and theoretical gaps in current research and provides avenues to support future research and industry practice."

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"Accelerators are a type of incubation program that are concerned with attracting, supporting and developing new ventures. Although there is significant enthusiasm for accelerators and their potential benefits, there is limited research on how their core capabilities can vary. In response, we develop a typology of accelerator capabilities taking into account their strategy, governance, business model, operations and finance. To develop the typology we carried out a benchmark analysis of six clean energy commercialization accelerators (CECAs). From this we verified and illustrated the dimensions of our typology and identified four types of accelerator capabilities: R&D focused, technology enabled, market enabled, and network enabled. We then use a seventh accelerator case to illustrate how our typology can be used to describe, understand and prescribe appropriate capabilities for a CECA. We conclude our paper by explaining the research and practice implications of our research."

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"Recent years have seen the emergence of a new institutional form in the entrepreneurial ecosystem: the seed accelerator. These fixed-term, cohort-based “boot camps” for start-ups offer educational and mentorship programs for start-up founders, exposing them to a wide variety of mentors, including former entrepreneurs, venture capitalists (VCs), angel investors, and corporate executives, and culminate in a public pitch event, or “demo day,” during which the graduating cohort of start-up companies pitch their businesses to a large group of potential investors. In practice, accelerator programs are a combination of previously distinct services or functions that were each individually costly for an entrepreneur to find and obtain. The accelerator approach has been widely adopted by private groups, public and government efforts, and by corporations. While proliferation of accelerators is clearly evident, with worldwide estimates of 3000+ programs in existence, research on the role and efficacy of these programs has been limited. In this article, I provide an introduction to the accelerator model and summarize recent evidence on its effects on the regional entrepreneurial environment."

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"To gain understanding of the state of entrepreneurship in Africa, Omidyar Network launched the Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa Initiative in 2012. To execute this multiphase research project, we partnered with Monitor Deloitte South Africa (formerly Monitor Group). We set out together to identify the challenges facing African entrepreneurs and to pinpoint the most trenchant barriers inhibiting high-impact entrepreneurship...This article presents the findings of the entrepreneur survey, the outcomes of the workshops in Accra, and the conclusions of the third and final phase of the initiative: the recommended actions needed to accelerate entrepreneurship on the continent. Self finance and family loans are the main sources of funding."

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