There are nearly 50 Greater Boston startup accelerators, incubators, and similar support programs. These programs provide selected early-stage ventures with office space, capital, mentorship, peers, industry connections, investor introductions, and other support. These spaces aren’t just for founders — they are great connection points for those who want to be involved with innovation in their industry through their events and partnership opportunities.

Boston Startup Accelerators

Many of these programs are focused on specific sectors or groups of entrepreneurs. Some are private / public / academic partnerships being run for the business development or shared economic benefits, while others are investment programs that ultimately seek a return from the equity they receive in exchange.

We’ve sorted all these programs into five sections; you can look through them all or skip ahead to the ones most relevant to you:

Startup Accelerators in Boston

Accelerators are programs that aim to take already-promising startups and accelerate their growth. They usually admit groups of startups as a cohort a couple of times per year. They have a set time period for the program, usually invest capital, and often culminate in a demo day to press and investors. Many accelerators take a small percentage of equity in return for their investment.

MassChallenge – Originally started with backing from the City of Boston and Massachusetts state government, MassChallenge operates independently to foster job-creating startups across all industries.

MassChallenge runs a 4-month accelerator program that provides mentorship, office space, education, industry networking, and community. Startups advance through three rounds of competition in the MassChallenge program, with final-round startups eligible for a number of grants from government and industry sponsors.

  • Capital: MassChallenge is a non-equity accelerator and provides opportunities for program companies to win $1.75+ million in cash awards and $10+million in in-kind support.
  • Applying: The 2017 cohort is currently running, applications for 2018 will likely open in February.

PULSE@MassChallenge – A new accelerator for digital health startups, run by MassChallenge but in its own separate space in Fenway. PULSE@ was created to grow Massachusetts’ advantage in the health industry & help startups take advantage of institutions here (like 8 of the top 14 US hospitals). PULSE@ will provide lab / office space, mentorship, and a “targeted curriculum led by hospital, corporate, payor and government partners.”

  • Capital: No equity taken or fees charged.
  • Applying: Applications for their second cohort open August 8th.

Techstars – One of the best-known national accelerators, Techstars came to Boston in 2009. It offers a 3-month, mentorship-driven program, culminating in Demo Day presentations to press and investors. Techstars emphasizes their mentors (nearly 200 in Boston, 2,000+ worldwide), their tight-knit alumni network (over 100 from Boston, nearly 700 worldwide), and hands-on support as the main benefits of participating.

  • Capital: Techstars takes 6% equity from companies admitted, and provides capital in two forms: $20,000 for living expenses, and the automatic offer of a $100,000 convertible note.
  • Applying: Applications are open twice a year.

Bolt – Investing in startups “at the intersection of hardware and software,” Bolt is the hub of Boston’s hardware startup community, and have a San Francisco location as well. Bolt’s extraordinarily well-equipped prototyping shops and full-time engineering staff allow hardware startups to prototype, iterate, and scale.

  • Capital: Bolt invests $100k – $500k for equity.
  • Applying: Bolt accepts pitches on an on-going basis.

LearnLaunch – Connecting educators, government, industry, and innovators in the education space, LearnLaunch supports education innovators through their coworking space, their non-profit LearnLaunch Institute, and two accelerator programs: LearnLaunch Boost and LearnLaunch Breakthrough. LearnLaunch Boost is a three-month program with a small capital investment, mentorship, and up to six months of free office space.

Breakthrough is a new program for more established edtech companies, taking 2-4% of equity in return for condensed, intensive workshops tailored to the company’s needs, introductions to potential partners, and access to the LearnLaunch platform.

  • Capital: LearnLaunch Boost provides $20k for 6% equity, plus a $50k convertible note if milestones are hit. Breakthrough provides a $50k convertible note at the start of the program, plus an additional $70k convertible note if milestones are hit.
  • Applying: Applications for the Fall 2017 program will open in the summer.

TiE ScaleUp – This five-month program from TiE Boston is an accelerator for startups that have already received $250k or more of seed financing and are looking to scale further. They’re aiming to provide sector-specific mentorship, CEO & industry partner roundtables, and structured access to investors throughout the program, as well as an end-of-program Demo Day.

  • Capital: This program doesn’t provide capital; no fees are charged or equity taken.
  • Applying: Their fourth cohort is currently running. Applications seem to be open twice a year, so check back in the summer.

RevUp by BetaSpring – An accelerator that for startups focusing on growth through revenue instead of fundraising, this program provides mentorship tailored to that purpose, upfront growth capital, and a dedicated team of marketing/growth specialists to help companies capitalize on opportunities.

  • Capital: RevUp provides $75,000 in cash to admitted startups. Instead of taking equity, RevUp companies provide a 36-month post-accelerator royalty: 4-8% of monthly revenue.
  • Applying: Startups can apply at any time; startups are accepted into the program on a quarterly basis.

Founder Institute – This idea-stage accelerator focuses on training founders, providing a weekly curriculum and business-building assignments over three & a half months, as well as mentors from the startup and investment community. Unlike other accelerators, FI is a part-time program that is accepting of founders who still have dayjobs, offering a bridge to entrepreneurship.

  • Capital: FI is a selective training program rather than an investor, and does not provide capital. It costs $1,400 if accepted (fully refundable within the first two weeks of the program). Graduates are asked to provide Warrants for 3.5% of their company — this goes into a ‘Shared Liquidity Pool’ that’s split between graduates, mentors, and FI. And only if a company receives significant funding from investors is an additional $4,500 tuition fee charged.
  • Applying: Applications are currently closed, but you can sign up to be notified when they’re next open.

athenahealth MDP Accelerator – Part of healthtech company athenahealth’s “More Disruption Please” program, the MDP accelerator offers free office space in their Watertown HQ, mentorship, access to athenahealth clients, and seed capital. They’re meant for innovative, provider-facing health care startups.

  • Capital: The MDP Accelerator offers “substantial seed capital in the form of a convertible note.”
  • Applying: Companies are accepted on an on-going basis, with a custom-tailored support provided over an 8-month program (with an option to extend to 12 months).

NeuroLaunch – An accelerator for neuroscience startup companies, NeuroLaunch has expanded to Boston. They provide funding, a 90-day curriculum of workshops and mentorship (including access to 120+ neuroscience medical experts, industry professionals, and investors), and a Demo Day presentation to investors.

  • Capital: Depending on the stage of the applying company, Neurolaunch provides $20k – $100k in seed funding, for 2 – 7% equity.
  • Applying: Applications closed as the Summer 2017 cohort runs.

Cleantech Open Northeast – The Cleantech Open is an annual, national startup competition and accelerator for companies building a green / clean technology business in a category such as energy efficiency, agriculture, transportation, and others. The accelerator is a 12-week program of workshops, mentorship, showcases to investors, partners, & customers.

  • Capital: If accepted, the program charges a $1200 fee for up to two team members participating. No equity is taken. 4-6 companies from the Northeast program will win $20k in cash and in-kind services, while one company will win a $200k national prize of investment and services.
  • Applying: Applications for the 2017 program now closed, will open again early 2018.

Fairmount LaunchPad – At the Fairmount Innovation Lab located in Dorchester, this accelerator aims to support Boston’s creative industry and connect the community along the Fairmount commuter rail line. Startups can apply to receive four months of office space, access to the community, and business workshops & training.

  • Capital: No equity taken or fees charged. Companies may be eligible for ‘micro-grants’.
  • Applying: Applications open twice yearly, for Spring and Fall programs.

Smarter in the City – A non-profit aimed at supporting local tech entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities, this accelerator provides five months of free workspace, mentoring, and in-kind services from local tech, marketing, and PR firms.

  • Capital: No equity taken. Companies receive “a modest stipend.”
  • Applying: The Spring 2017 cohort is currently in session, expect applications for a Fall 2017 cohort over the summer.

Power Launch Accelerator – A new accelerator for social entrepreneurs, Power Launch is a two-month program to provide early-stage organizations with “leadership and organizational development training, expert mentors, and a range of professional consultants and pro bono services.” The accelerator ends with a pitch competition, with winners being awarded funding and in-kind services.

  • Capital: No equity taken or fees charged.
  • Applying: Their inaugural spring 2016 cohort finished, and Power Launch now says “stay tuned for future program dates.”

EforAll – Formerly ‘Merrimack Valley Sandbox’, their Lowell-based 12-week accelerator & coworking space are the hub of a program across Lowell / Lawrence, coastal region south of Boston, and Lynn (to the north of Boston).

  • Capital: Participants compete for a $30k prize pool. No equity is taken, or fees charged.
  • Applying: Join their mailing list to hear when applications are open for a future cohort.

Leangap – This 6-week summer program selects a “handful” of high school entrepreneurs (40, from 900 applicants world-wide last year) to receive hands-on mentorship from “the world’s most respected Harvard and MIT faculty, TED speakers, YC startup founders, and more.” These students pitch ideas, form teams, start real companies, and demo to investors at the end of the program.

  • Capital: Leangap charges accepted students $5,985, with need-based financial aid available at whatever level is required. No equity is taken from student startups.
  • Applying: Applications are closed for 2017. Expect applications for 2018 to open fall or winter this year.

Cybersecurity Factory – Run in partnership with Highland Capital Partners, this 10-week summer program is focused on early-stage cybersecurity startups, preferably with at least one graduate student (or recent graduate) co-founder. As part of an industry partnership with Akamai and Imprivata, teams with relevant experience can also apply without a specific idea, instead choosing to work on “problem statements [that] represent the company’s and their customers’ strategic security needs, which can be spun off as an independent startup.”

  • Capital: $20,000 investment as a convertible note.
  • Applying: Applications for 2017 are closed, expect applications for 2018 to open winter this year.

Startup Incubators in Boston

Incubators are less-structured programs that support startups with space, mentorship opportunities, access to industry experts and connections, and a community of peers, but are less likely to offer capital (or require equity). Incubators are more likely to admit startups on a rolling basis, and are often less timeline-driven than accelerators.

Boston-Incubator-Greentown-Labs-Panoramic

Photo by Todd Van Hoosear

Greentown Labs – A 33,000 square foot facility for green / energy tech startups. In addition to office space, Greentown provides a well-equipped machine shop for prototyping, and hosts many events that give member companies opportunities to connect with press, partners, investors, and talent.

  • Capital: No equity taken. Membership is priced similarly to a coworking space.
  • Applying: Companies can apply at any time.

The Engine – A brand new incubator powered by MIT, for founders of any startup tackling “tough” technologies: “biotech, medical devices, manufacturing, clean energy, robotics, the Internet of Things, and software that take significant time and resources to develop.” The Engine provides maker & laboratory facilities, coworking space, and mentors, as well as providing community programming and regular demo days to offer companies expertise, exposure, and connections to capital.

  • Capital: The Engine does have an accelerator investment fund that will likely offer investment for equity. Other than that, The Engine has said there will be costs, depending on if startups are in-residence or working externally, but hasn’t yet announced specifics.
  • Applying: Companies can apply at any time.

Hack/Reduce – Focused on big data, this incubator has a unique ‘co-creation’ model, pairing founding teams with ideas from hack/reduce advisors. Companies formed in this way are their own, independent companies, with access to the hack/reduce space and partners for up to a year.

  • Capital: No equity taken.
  • Applying: People with domain expertise can apply to get involved at any time.

DCU FinTech Innovation Center – An innovation center run by Digital Federal Credit Union, this FinTech-focused incubator provides seed stage startups with “mentorship, workspace, a professional network, and community.” Their workspace is managed by Workbar, and being a member company provides access to all other Workbar spaces.

  • Capital: No equity taken or fees charged.
  • Applying: Applications are currently open, with the deadline in April.

RaizLabs XLR8 – A rapidly-growing app development company and strong presence with Boston’s mobile dev community, RaizLabs has set aside a portion of its offices to provide a limited number of (anything mobile-related) startups with four months of free workspace, mentorship, and access to top-notch experts in design, development, product management, etc.

  • Capital: No equity taken or fees charged.
  • Applying: Applications are currently closed.

Autodesk BUILD Space – This “innovation space for digital fabrication in the building industry” came to Boston as part of design & prototyping giant Autodesk’s move here. Its ‘Builders in Residence’ program is open to startups as well as other teams from industry, academia, or Autodesk itself. Residencies are “largely project-based, with an average timeline of about six months.”

  • Capital: No equity taken or fees charged.
  • Applying: Apply at any time.

UMass Venture Development Center – The VDC is a paid workspace for tech and biotech ventures. They also host entrepreneurs-in-residence, with a special program for international founders to obtain a cap-exempt H-1B visa in exchange for acting as a mentor to VDC members and entrepreneurial UMass faculty, students, and alumni.

  • Capital:  Variable pricing based on office space needed.
  • Applying: Apply at any time to join the VDC or the Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program.

M2D2 – The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center is another paid UMass program, located primarily at their Lowell campus and run in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts Medical School (Worcester). It offers office space, grant-writing assistance, medical expertise, regulatory support, and many other services for medical device entrepreneurs.

  • Capital: No capital provided; M2D2 “offers a range of no-cost and fee-for-service options.”
  • Applying: Apply at any time. A no-commitment consultation with and confidential presentation to M2D2’s executive board will be scheduled if your application shows a potential fit.

MassRobotics – A non-profit org supporting robotics & connected device innovation in Massachusetts, MassRobotics offers a prototyping space, workshop, and shared workspace to selected members, as well as service as a hub for industry events and connections.

Support for Boston Student Startups

Boston’s universities have already been one of it’s strongest innovation assets from the talent pool they provide and the research they produce. Increasingly, universities are even more directly trying to support student entrepreneurship and participation in Boston’s startup community. Many colleges are providing student startup accelerators & incubators of their own. These programs are sometimes available to alumni (and startups with at least one alumni founder) as well.

Hult Prize Accelerator banner

Hult Prize – Open to students (and up to one non-faculty alumnus) from any college, the Hult Prize Foundation is a social entrepreneurship accelerator built around a different theme each year. Teams are provided with training on “effective issues analysis and presentation skills” from senior management consultants and industry experts. Teams compete in regional competitions, then participate in a summer accelerator, then present at an international finals event held as part of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting.

  • Capital: No fees charged, the winner receives $1 million dollars (for 20% equity if they are a for-profit venture), and the foundation says runner-ups “may also have the option to receive funding from the Hult Prize Mena Ventures Fund. These funding terms will be fixed for each of the five runner-ups.”

WIN Lab – A year-long residency program for women entrepreneurs, Babson’s WIN Lab provides weekly programming September – April, including guest speakers, workshops, and access to investors.

  • Capital: This program doesn’t provide capital; no fees are charged or equity taken.

Harvard i-lab – Harvard University’s center for student entrepreneurship, the Harvard Innovation Lab hosts workshops, events, and student startups. Each semester, startups with at least one current Harvard-student founder are selected to participate in the Venture Incubation Program (VIP). VIP members receive free coworking space, mentor matching, and industry-specific support.

  • Capital: No equity taken or fees charged.

Harvard Launch Lab – Building on the success of the i-lab program, Harvard created an adjacent coworking space for Harvard alumni.

  • Capital: Meant for ventures with funding or revenue, the Launch Lab charges $300 / month / desk.

Boston University Buzz Lab – BU’s center for entrepreneurship, the Buzz Lab offers mentorship, coworking space, prototyping assistance, events, and access to the student entrepreneurship clubs on campus.

  • Capital: No equity taken or fees charged.

Butler Venture Accelerator at Babson – Open to Babson undergraduates and graduates, and businesses at all stages, the Butler Venture Accelerator provides structured programming, access to faculty advisors,  pitching contests with cash rewards, and ability to apply for office space through their Hatcheries program. A 10-week summer intensive accelerator program is also available.

  • Capital: A non-equity program with options for receiving seed funding.

The Berklee ICE Incubator – This incubator is offered to select student businesses as part of Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship. The incubator offers office space, services referrals, and mentors, as well as ICE programs like the Silicon Valley student trip and sending students to the SXSW hackathon.

MIT delta v – Formerly the MIT Global Founders’ Skill Accelerator, this student venture accelerator that provides a three month summer program for startups with at least one current MIT student founder.

  • Capital: A non-equity program that offers up to $20k/company for meeting milestones and $2k/month/MIT-founder in living expenses.

MIT $100K – This three-round competition runs from September to May, with each round (Pitch, Accelerate, and Launch) offering its own support, judging, and prizes to an increasingly winnowed pool of startups. Each team must have at least one currently-registered MIT student.

  • Capital: No equity taken or fees charged. The Pitch round offers up to $5k in prizes, Accelerate up to $13k, and Launch the titular $100k grand prize.

Play Labs @ MIT – A new “summer accelerator for MIT students and alumni using playful technologies” like VR, AR, AI, machine vision, and more. Play Labs says participating startups will receive hands-on mentoring, a curriculum of speakers and advisors, and workspace. The program culminates in a demo day presentation to investors.

  • Capital: Accepted teams will receive a $20k investment for 6% equity. Graduating teams that meet certain criteria will be eligible for a follow-on $80k investment as a convertible note.

IDEA – Northeastern’s student led accelerator, IDEA, provides education and resources to student, alumni, and professor founders.

  • Capital: A non-equity program that provides $1k prototype grants, and $10k ‘gap funding’ grants to selected ventures.

Soaring Startup Circle – Open to all Boston College students, Soaring Startup Circle is a summer accelerator program. Run by BC alumni active in Boston’s startup community, the program provides workspace, networking, and mentoring.

  • Capital: A non-equity program.

Emerson Launch – Providing office space, industry advisors, and bi-weekly mentor and expert sessions, Emerson Launch is an up-to-two year program open to startups by current students.

  • Capital: A non-equity program, with opportunities to receive $2k/semester.

Wentworth Accelerate’s Startup Challenge – Run each semester for Wentworth students, the Startup Challenge program at Wentworth’s Innovation + Entrepreneurship center provides weekly events for participating teams, along with mentorship, workspace, and access to a prototyping lab. At the end of each semester, current and alumni teams participate in a pitch event before judges.

  • Capital: No equity taken or fees charged. Teams can be awarded up to $10,000 in grant funding for product development.

Resources for International Startups in Boston

(Graduating foreign students, make sure to check out UMass’s Global Entrepreneur in Residence program, detailed in the Incubators section above).

German Accelerator Life Sciences – This Cambridge, MA program assists emerging German life sciences companies (including digital health, medical device, and platform technology companies) in entering the US market. Over a 3-to-12 month program tailored to the individual company, they provide mentorship, consulting, and help building a network of potential clients, partners, and investors.

  • Capital: Aimed at growing companies already generating revenue, no capital is provided. The program doesn’t take equity, but does require a 1,000 € deposit, fully refunded when the program is completed.
  • Applying: Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

Canadian Technology Accelerator @ Boston – Executives at Canadian companies looking to expand to the U.S. market can apply to participate in this four month residency program. CTA@Boston provides workspace within the Cambridge Innovation Center, connects them with local mentors & peers, and provides other assistance tailored to the company’s needs.

  • Capital: This program doesn’t provide capital; no fees are charged or equity taken.
  • Applying: View the CTA’s site for info on contacting the consulate to apply.

CTI Market Entry Camps – This acceleration program for Swiss startups entering the US market provides 1-3 months of support through Swissnex in Boston (or San Francisco or New York). Support includes 24/7 access to office space, connections to potential investors, customers, & partners, and expert coaching.

BigBooster – This non-profit international accelerator accepts 100 early-stage French startups (and other international startups willing to come to Lyon) in a weekend intensive ‘booster camp’, with a pitch contest at the end determining a top 20 startups who will be brought to Boston and hosted by MassChallenge for a second ‘booster camp’.

  • Capital: No capital provided. For accepted startups a fee of 300 € per startup and per representative is charged.
  • Applying: The 2016 program is still running, with final awards in April 2017. Applications will likely open anew in May.

SACC Accelerator – For Swedish startups wanting to enter the US market, this program accepts a limited number of startups with strong sales traction in European markets and provides them with mentorship and customer introductions.

Other Resources for Boston Founders

Finally, for founders interested in the kind of opportunities accelerators & incubators in Boston provide, there are a few more notable programs worth mentioning…

Unpitch: Startups + Investors

Unpitch – Tired of seeing spammy pay-to-pitch events providing questionable value, the team at Unpitch has created an event to connect founders and investors in a casual, no-pressure environment.

Velocity Network – Created by venture firms General Catalyst and CRV, this program connects startups working on enterprise technologies to senior IT decision makers at companies like Prudential, NBC, HBO, Morgan Stanley, and more. Founders apply to present, and if accepted join a network of peers who all get the opportunity to present to enterprise executives and make connections / receive feedback.

MIT Enterprise Forum Cambridge – With no MIT affiliation necessary, the MITEF provides coaching programs and startup showcase events for the local innovation community. Events & programs typically cost a small fee. Their Mentor Smart program is particularly worth noting; it matches accepted entrepreneurs with a volunteer mentor for a full year, provides networking with other cohort members, and free demo space at their showcase events.

FinTech Sandbox – Free data, free infrastructure, and community for financial technology entrepreneurs.

Startup Leadership Program, Boston Chapter – This part time training program is for leaders & innovators who want to become startup CEOs. It accepts 15 – 25 people per city each year, and provides 60 hours worth of evening/weekend classes & workshops from lean concepts to PR to hiring & firing to fundraising and more. If you are admitted, SLP charges a small, flat fee ($525) to cover costs (SLP is a not-for-profit organization).

More!?!?

See also our guide to Boston coworking; many of these spaces also have a specific industry focus. And follow us on twitter or LinkedIn for more opportunities for founders, events to connect with startups, and updates on this & future guides.

Wait, what about…

People tuned in to Boston’s startup buzz might have expected to see a couple more names that haven’t gotten a full writeup here… incubator Dogpatch Labs Cambridge & accelerator Summer @ Highland (both no longer in Boston); digital health fund Rock Health (no longer runs an accelerator program or has an active Boston team); Paul English’s travel startups incubator / nightclub Blade (closed to focus on the team’s own new venture, Lola); e-commerce-focused Launch (a venture studio, rather than an incubator focused on bringing in external startups); and international ‘soft-landing’ accelerator Dat Ventures (turned into a startup foundry / coworking space).

This guide is regularly updated…

If you know of a Boston-based startup accelerator or incubator not mentioned here, tweet it to @BOSstartups.

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