Our Comprehensive Collection of European Healthtech Accelerators and Incubators
Healthtech founders face a significantly different set of trials compared with other early-stage startups. On top of the usual challenges, such as fundraising and finding product-market fit (PMF), the clinical setting is highly regulated. This means that early ventures in this space will have to pass more rigorous testing, conduct scientific and regulatory due diligence as well as undergo compliance audits. Since founders are building a product that’s directly focused on their customers’ well-being, there’s not only less room for error but also reduced flexibility to pivot products. Hence, there is a much greater emphasis on building a strong product from the get-go, which makes building a startup in the healthcare sector all the more challenging.
With the first quarter of 2023 nearly behind us, it appears that Europe is positioned to avoid a recession by a whisker. But we are still expecting some headwinds due to the uncertain macroeconomic conditions. Ask any venture capitalist. It has never been harder to build assumptions and make predictions than for this upcoming year.
Considering these ongoing challenges, we strongly believe that it’s essential for healthtech founders to work with the right partners early on; not only for raising capital but also to navigate the complex healthcare space. That’s why we’ve developed a list of relevant incubators and accelerators for healthtech founders in Europe. This list is a great starting point for early-stage healthtech companies that are searching for alternative means of capital.
But before you dive into the list of incubators and accelerators, let’s take a step back and examine the state of healthtech in 2023.
Promising growth in key areas
Despite peaking inflation and stagnating economic growth, it’s not all doom and gloom for the healthtech sector. Although slower than in previous years, we’re still witnessing promising growth among healthtech investments in Europe, especially in key areas of interest such as easing the burden on labor and physician burnout.
We’re also seeing that the state of listed markets has led to some correction in private market valuations as they gradually move back to pre-pandemic rates. This also means that the sector is moving to be less reliant on mega-rounds and gradually shifting toward having more sustainable run rates.
Funding and capital for healthtech startups
With the current economic climate in mind, we believe it's even more crucial for healthtech founders to assess all possible funding options and determine which are the best fit to set the company up for success. Among the cacophony of venture capitalists, angels, accelerators, and incubators, it’s easy to lose track of which is the best option for you. And in a sector as specific as healthcare, the importance of the right advisor and support system in the early stages cannot be stressed enough. This is what will define the trajectory of a specific venture.
A great alternative to VC funding includes accelerators and incubators. Why? We believe that they are a great source of funds because they most often go beyond just capital. These programs are typically designed to be more hands-on compared to other “traditional” forms of funding, offering founders some key benefits, such as:
- Mentorship: More often than not, accelerator and incubator programs provide startups with access to a seasoned mentor in their sector. Apart from obvious benefits, such as advice, strategy and regulatory support, having an external mentor can also help with maintaining objectivity in a project.
- Peer learning: Making mistakes is part of the process of any startup journey as you find yourself sailing unchartered territories. As a result, this can make the journey rather lonely. Being part of an accelerator and incubator cohort can provide you with access to a support system as well as the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.
- Networks: One of the biggest benefits of being part of a program is the network effect that it can bring to your startup. You’ll be able to tap into alumni networks, executives, and sector experts that can help you gain traction in your early-stage startup. Being part of notable programs can also bring press coverage to your venture and help you build credibility.
Choosing the right accelerator or incubator program for you
Europe is home to many of these programs and none of them are built the same. It’s important to keep your key objectives in mind when choosing the right program for you and your startup. The top three tips that we recommend keeping in mind during your search are:
- Sector-focus expertise: Generally speaking, there are three types of programs. They are either cross-sector (generalist), cross-sector with a focus (e.g. impact), or focused where they only accept applications from a selected list of themes.
- Support-focus Area: Different programs also vary in terms of the type of support that they focus on. Some focus on helping you find a co-founder, some focus on piloting a product together with a single corporate partner. Make sure you read what each program entails to choose the right structure for you.
- Location: A program’s location may determine where your company will be based as well as where you’ll live as a founder. Additionally, it may also define your first go-to-market strategy.
- Size: The size of a program will define your experience. For example, you may get less one-on-one support with a larger cohort size. Instead, you’ll get more horizontal exposure and vice versa.
- Timeline: Some programs can run for as short as one month to up to a year. If you’d like to jumpstart your startup quickly, it might be better to choose a shorter program. However, if your venture leans heavier towards research and development, it might make sense to aim for a program with longer timelines.
Health-focused incubators and accelerators in Europe
In order to help you navigate the landscape, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most promising programs and initiatives. The general criteria we’ve used as a basis to build our incubators and accelerators list are as follows:
- Expertise: focus on health or health-related topics and/or has a history of working with healthtech or techbio startups
- Geography: has a European presence
We tried to be as comprehensive as possible, but we probably missed some great programs in the list below. If you feel you should be on here, please reach out to Nadhila Wardhana and we’ll make sure to add you to our list.
Have any other questions? Reach out to us!