City University London and theAccelerator Academy today announced the launch of FastForward (FFWD) London as the world's first pre-accelerator Programme. It is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is also backed by the Capital Accelerator Programme. Members of the growing list of partners include: New Entrepreneur First, HealthBox, BBC Labs, TrueStart, TechStars, The Bakery and the UKTI's Sirius Programme. The new initiative is tasked with creating at least 44 high-growth startups, of which 35 will be funded (£6m+) and 172 new jobs in the next 2 years. The programme is designed as a blueprint to be rolled out across other parts of Europe in 2015.
FFWD will prepare its startups for successful application and entry to leading London accelerators, access to first funding and non-equity finance.
The programme is now open to entrants and FFWD hopefuls can apply here: www.ffwdlondon.com
The agile-inspired programme is delivered in one-day sprints over a 6 week period starting with an Induction Day for the 25 selected startups, on June 19th 2014. It will cover key topics such as tech, marketing and finance via a mixture of expert speakers, industry mentoring and hands-on experience.
The programme will culminate in September with the teams pitching their ideas to accelerators, grant providers and early stage (SEIS) investors for the opportunity to take their business to the next level.
Ben Mumby-Croft, Enterprise Education Manager, City University London commented "FFWD plugs the gap between fledgling ideas and startup accelerators by providing a specially designed programme where entrepreneurs can take their ideas and make rapid progress towards creating a funded business. It is an ambitious programme, which City is delighted to be involved in, and we look forward to working with our partner Accelerator Academy to pioneer a new methodology that can be used across the UK and then across the European Union. "
Ian Merricks, Co-Founder of FFWD London, and Programme Lead for the Accelerator Academy added: "Over the last 2 years, we created one of the leading Accelerators in Europe. In supporting 74 startups, helping them to get to growth and secure investment - £10m to date - and a `portfolio' now worth in excess of £85m, we recognized some inefficiencies in the market. Hundreds of applicants for our Accelerator, and partner accelerators, are just too early in their growth cycle to be accepted into an Accelerator. FFWD London addresses that problem, and working with a range of partners and City University, with EU support to launch this solution - providing much needed business preparation for ambitious startups, giving them the start they need ahead of acceleration and funding."
Why is a pre-accelerator needed?
As accelerators evolve, in support of the growing number of startups (needed to sustain UK economic recovery), nuances between accelerators are being more important. As such from an accelerator's perspective, emerging ways to discover the best companies are important, and additionally a pre-accelerator not only helps with discovery, but also with adding another layer of readiness and filtering.
From the startups perspective, and there were over half a million new startups launched last year, the accelerator space has become increasingly competitive, often seeing 10 applicants for one place. This is as a result of great accelerators attracting great talent; training, mentoring, capital etc. As such, startups need to up their game to be able to access the finite number of places in the leading accelerators, and thus, working across the accelerator market.
As the world's first pre-accelerator, FFWD has been created to help shape earliest stage startups, and prepare them for first funding and fast tracked access to the UK's best accelerators.