Completely Free Tech Accelerators: No equity, no cash cost

Many early-stage founders would benefit from joining an accelerator, but most accelerators charge a meaningful amount for their services, in cash and/or equity. The good news: a range of VCs, corporates, and non-governmental organizations offer COMPLETELY free accelerator programs: no cash charge, no equity charge. We’ve collected all of the ones we could find below.  

Accelerators Sponsored by VCs

  • Versatile VC offers an Entrepreneur in Residence program. Note this is structured for individual people or teams, rather than a cohort.
  • Antler Launch Academy. “Learn from our real startup generation playbook paired with a helpful community; brought to you by the world’s largest early stage investment platform.”
  • Afore Capital: Zero-to-1 is a virtual program with a cohort of 100 founders on the startup journey for any early-stage startup with about a 3-6 hour weekly commitment.
  • Contrary Capital: Capital’s Talent program focuses on recent university graduates who are either founders or are likely talent for top tech companies. 
  • The Fund: BUILD is an 8-week course specifically to help early-stage founders from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Human Capital: Humans in the Wild is a 100-day program focused on founders in the early stages of developing their ideas. Designed for early-stage founders with an MVP or a strong idea of what to build and who are targeting the US.
  • Primary Venture Partners: Founders Fellowship is a free 6-month, part-time program for early-stage founders and aspiring entrepreneurs to learn the necessary skills to be successful entrepreneurs.

Accelerators Sponsored by Corporates and Open to Startups From All Industries

  • The Cisco Startup Program is a 6-month equity-free program for mid-to-late stage technology startups. Benefits include working space, mentorship, industry connections, and access to Cisco technology platforms.
  • Facebook Accelerators are for startups that have launched a product on the market and are looking to scale. These startups receive expert mentorship, training, and access to partners through Facebook’s network.
  • Facebook Startup Circles are for startups that are looking to take their prototype and find market fit. These startups receive access to a peer network, lessons from startup experts, and coaching from business and strategy experts.
  • KPMG Private Enterprise Tech Innovator is a competition for tech startups with between 1 and 15 million dollars in revenue across the US and other select countries around the world. Winners receive exposure, recognition, networking, and progression to the Global Tech Innovator final.
  • Startup with IBM is a program that provides startups with up to $120,000 in cloud credits, expert guidance, and access to cutting-edge technologies.
  • CodeLaunch (produced by Improving) is a traveling tech startup competition that pairs its finalists at each event with teams of developers donated by software development agencies, who then work with the startup to rapidly advance their tech in a two-day hackathon format. CodeLaunch does not take equity nor charge startups any fees.  

Accelerator for Fintech Companies 

  • Intuit Prosperity Accelerator selects startups to work for 4 months on specific challenge areas concerning consumers and small businesses post COVID-19. Participating startups receive access to a mentorship network, $20,000, and an investment opportunity.
  • JPMorgan In-Residence seeks to connect startups with JPMorgan’s data, expertise, network, and more to help participants make breakthroughs in the wholesale banking space. May also further support and fund startups after completion of the program.
  • Mastercard Start Path is a 6-month program for later-stage FinTech startups with at least 6-12 months runway. They receive support in the form of mentorship, access to a strong network, as well as an introduction to prospective customers.
  • REACH supports real estate tech entrepreneurs in several locations around the world. The accelerator provides startups with association with a strong brand, access to a vast network within the industry, and a better market penetration opportunity.
  • The Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator offers a 6 months equity-free and no-fee program focused on driving innovation in financial services forward; will invest up to $1M in select start-ups who complete the program.
  • UBS Future of Finance Challenge is not just for startups but established and/or growing companies as well. Participants have the chance to “access benefits and prizes of over USD 400,000 worth in value, delivered in collaboration with Anthemis, Deloitte and Microsoft for Startups.”

Accelerators Sponsored by Corporates, With Focus on Other Industries

  • Coca-Cola Founders is an equity-free program supporting founders with or without a start-up idea. The program provides founders with strong relationships, expansive reach, and many resources.
  • Disney Accelerator focuses on startups looking to make an impact on “the future of technology and entertainment” and provides investment capital, working space, and support/mentorship.
  • Johnson and Johnson Innovation JLABS is a global network of innovation locations focusing on healthcare ideas and innovations. Eligibility varies by program and location.
  • Startup Autobahn Daimler Chrysler’s start-up accelerator works with startups to start a joint pilot project with Daimler AG and develop concepts and prototypes. 
  • Target Accelerators has multiple programs for areas such as retail. The program is also equity and fee-free.
  • Uber and Enterprise Nation: Empowering Journeys has a series of programs for drivers, couriers, restaurants, and food entrepreneurs “designed to give people the support they need to get from where they are to where they want to be.”

Accelerators Sponsored by Non-Governmental Organizations

  • AG Elevate is a 10-month program to help tech businesses steer through legal challenges that arise as their startup grows. To qualify, your company must be a technology business with seed or series A funding looking to continue high acceleration growth. Qualified participants receive a mentor, free legal advice, access to other training, and more. 
  • Creative Destruction Lab is a nonprofit organization that delivers an objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies.
  • Endless Frontier Labs “accelerates the success of early-stage science and technology based startups through a goals-oriented mentorship program.” Free for any science/technology founders. Participants receive mentorship, access to investors, guidance from scientists, and more.
  • Future of Work Accelerator is a 9-month program for founders looking to create software or hardware solutions to define the future of work. Participants should be able to commit at least 20+ hours per week, have venture-backed startup experience, and a clear idea for a specific program. Participants benefit from co-founder matching, access to investment, coaching, community, and more.
  • Hyperspace has an equity-free, no fee-listed program to bring innovators in the space industry together with government and military applications. 
  • Imagine H2O has a remote accelerator where entrepreneurs receive access to mentors, increased marketing and visibility, and a robust network to accelerate the world’s most promising water innovations. Seeking entrepreneurial solutions spanning municipal, industrial, and agricultural sectors.
  • MassChallenge has several global locations and industry-focused equity-free and no fee accelerator programs. Accelerators in some locations accept startups from any industry and others focus on health tech and fintech. At least one team member must be on-site during the accelerator.
  • One America Works supports regional start-ups in the growth phase all over America so that the tech boom is not stuck in just a few markets, unbalancing the country.
  • Startup Boost operates equity-free, no charge accelerators in many cities across N. America to work with early-stage startups to help ensure your company is prepared for the next steps into either Accelerators or seed investment. Focused on industries like banking, financial services, and information technology.

Accelerators for Veterans

  • Veterans Entrepreneurship Training is an intro 12-week educational program for US military personnel, veterans, and their spouses. To earn a certificate, participants must have to attend all the classes and complete coursework and a capstone project.
  • Bunker Labs Veteran in Residence: A partnership of WeWork and Bunker Labs, Veterans in Residence is a six-month startup incubator and leadership program that provides veterans and military family member entrepreneurs the community, business support, and workspace to help launch and grow their businesses

Accelerators with a Diversity Focus

  • Apple Impact Accelerator is an accelerator for Black and Brown-owned businesses. Accepted participants receive targeted training, access to strategic partnerships and opportunities, mentorship, and access to an alumni network. Eligible companies are late-stage startups that are at least 51% owned by African American, Hispanic American/Latinx, or Indigenous American and are focused on one of Apple’s environmental priority areas.
  • Free Business School is a program for female entrepreneurs and small business owners offering free online training. The material covered includes learning to set the right goals, how to identify opportunities and strategies, and more.
  • Google Black Founders Fund provides equity-free funding to Black-led startups to Google startup program participants or those that are nominated. Selected founders receive funding in amounts from $50,000 to $100,000.
  • Google for Startups Accelerator: Black Founders is a “three-month digital accelerator program for high potential Seed to Series A tech startups based in the U.S.” The program is designed to provide the best support to Black founders that are aiming to leverage AI/ML in their product.
  • Sistah Biz Business Academy is a training academy for black women to “become stronger entrepreneurs, smarter saleswomen and more courageous bosses.” The programs in the academy are either low-cost or free and open to the public.
  • Accelerating Black Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ABLE) is a program designed to strengthen and support black-owned small businesses and nonprofit organizations in the United States. The 20 chosen participants receive leadership training, mentoring, networking, access to venture firms and investors, and more.
  • DWEN Dream Tech Contest is a contest for you to “Share with Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) what makes your business unique, and how new technology would help your business.” One DWEN member will win up to $60k in technology for their business. Applicants must be part of a female-founded business and have up to 100 employees registered in the US.
  • Mastercard Fearless Strivers Grant Contest is a grant contest that is “aimed at helping Women of Color business owners in cities across the U.S.” These business owners receive needed funding and digital resources.
  • SAP.IO Foundry NY accelerator is for B2B software startups in professional/business services led by women or diverse founders. It is a no-equity program for Seed to Series C startups offering mentorship, SAP technologies, and engagement with SAP customers.
  • Stacy’s Rise Project is offering 10 female entrepreneurs $10,000 in grant funding and mentorship from PepsiCo/Frito-Lay leaders and industry experts. In order to be eligible, businesses must have between $25k and $1M in annual sales and not be part of any accelerator at the time of entry.
  • UBS Female Founder Award “recognizes a female founder or Business Lead of a start-up business.” Female-led startups with an annual turnover and funding of less than 150 million USD are eligible to enter. Winners receive 10,000 USD and 120 hours of coaching/mentoring.
  • Visa She’s Next is a grant program for Black women-owned businesses providing “the chance to win one of sixty (60) $10,000 grants and a one-year IFW Annual Coaching Membership.” To qualify, businesses must be located in one of the six designated cities and must have annual revenue of at least $24k.

NO-COST ACCELERATORS FOCUSED ON SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHIES

New York

  • Catalyst NYC provides mentorship and support for 6 months just for pre-seed/seed companies focused on areas like AI, AR, and cloud computing, with benefits of up to $350,000.
  • FastTrac® TechVenture is a no-cost, 10-session bootcamp for early-stage entrepreneurs to learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and test their product and business model. Participants must have a tech-based idea, have at least two years of work experience, and have some initial market, product, and customer research.
  • Founders Fellowship is a free 6-month, part-time program for early-stage founders and aspiring entrepreneurs to learn the necessary skills to be successful entrepreneurs.
  • Grand Central Tech is a residency program that provides NYC’s top series-A companies and pre-company entrepreneurs with growth resources, workspace, network, and other support, all for free. The program screens for domain expertise and entrepreneurial experience.
  • Venture Crush Pods Program (backed by Lowenstein Sandler) is a program that doesn’t charge or take equity and puts accepted applicants into pods of 10-15 startups plus 4-5 pod leaders to expand the founders’ networks and educate them.

Southern California

  • Grid110 is an LA-based equity-free, no-fee program for both Idea to Product stage startups and more established founders and businesses. Participants are required to be based in the greater Los Angeles area.
  • Founders Business Accelerator (LACI) is a 10-week program that looks to increase the economic, community, and environmental impact of small LA businesses where founders receive resources, support/training, and access to a network of other small businesses. Must be a small business located within LA.
  • Innovators Program (LACI) is a 12-month program for Southern California startups focused on cleantech where they receive access to coaches, opportunity updates, industry events, and more. Eligible startups must operate out of either Los Angeles County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, or Orange County.

North Carolina

  • Cary Cofounders Lab provides free office space, mentorship, resources, and more to software founders in Cary, North Carolina.
  • Innovators Program: 3-month program in Raleigh helping founders and innovators take a technical idea to a business model; up to 20k free equity, no fee listed. Must be a team of technical founders willing to locate in Raleigh for the duration of the program.

St. Louis

  • Arch Grants Global Startup Competition focuses on founders in the idea stage to pre-Series A startups that have a desire to grow the St. Louis ecosystem. The program provides $50,000 in equity-free funding and pro bono support services and requires participants to stay in St. Louis for at least one year.

Virginia

  • Lighthouse Labs is a seed-stage accelerator in Virginia that invests $20,000 and has a 3-month experience designed to help future-focused founders and high-growth startups grow quickly. Prefer high-growth-potential and scalable tech or product startup.

OUTSIDE OF THE USA

Canada

  • The Summer Institute is a “three-month intensive accelerator for entrepreneurs with an innovative idea and the passion needed to turn that idea into a sustainable venture.” Participants receive free office space, funding, corporate perks, and more.
  • Startup Boost Toronto is a free 6-week part-time program for early-stage entrepreneurs. Accepted participants receive coaching, mentorship, networking opportunities, and more.

Germany

  • German Accelerator empowers German startups and helps them grow globally. Programs run for various lengths of time, depending on the location. They are open to German incorporated companies that are “under the limit of the official EU De-minimis aid regulation.” Participants receive experience, coaching, free office space, and more.
  • Tech Founders is a Munich, Germany-based accelerator focusing on tech startups and offering 25,000 € in equity-free funding and other support. Startups must be in fields related to automotive, robotics, automation, software, telecommunications, etc.

Israel

  • Innofense is an accelerator by ​​Israel’s Ministry of Defense and SOSA HLS for startup founders with tech solutions. The program helps you “discover how your tech solutions can transition into the defense sector and solve the most pressing challenges facing the State of Israel’s defense systems.” Participants receive a $50k non-equity grant, access to a global network, and more.
  • Deloitte Launchpad is a program that supports Israeli growth-stage startups as they expand their growth in the US. The program is also equity and fee-free. 
  • Tech7 Magnet Accelerator is a Negev, Israel-based accelerator that looks for the best early-stage startups and provides them with office space, advising, mentorship, investors, and more, over 3 months while being equity-free.
  • Merage +45 is a competition helping and supporting “Israeli entrepreneurs above the age of 45 or women at any age to get significant exposure, recognition and funding that they need.” The grand prize is $100k equity-free – no strings attached funding.
  • 8200 Impact is a 3-month equity-free program, open to all Israeli entrepreneurs, that is focused on startups aiming to create positive social/environmental impact through technology. Ventures “will benefit from tailor-made value creation, top-tier mentors, workshops with successful entrepreneurs and leading industry experts, office hours, and access to exclusive networking and investment opportunities.”

Latin America

Singapore

  • PayPal Incubator provides co-working space, education, mentorship, access to funding, and more to startups. Ideal applicants are a FinTech or commerce startup in Singapore with an MVP that addresses one of the given themes of interest.

Switzerland

  • ClimAccelerator in Switzerland provides up to 85,000 € in equity-free funding and other support to cleantech startups. Only accepting two-founder teams minimum and startups less than 5 years old.
  • MassChallenge Switzerland is a five-month accelerator focusing on early-stage startups. Participants will benefit from access to corporate partners, world-class mentoring, and other support.

Other Resources:

F6S list accelerators, events, contests, and other resources globally, although most take equity and/or a tuition fee.  

Thanks to Akshat Dixit, Anika Dixit, and Katherine Boe Heuck for help researching this.