Health accelerators must adjust their offerings to meet the needs of start-ups. What health start-ups expect from accelerators – Global survey results

The market for accelerators in the digital health industry is tough: Several hundred accelerators are active in this arena. Competition is high and unicorn start-ups are scarce. Even for accelerators with an attractive brand it is hard to attract a high enough number of good-quality applications from start-ups – let alone for less-attractive or less-known accelerators.

Accelerators in healthcare are adapting to this market pressure in different ways. They are diversifying and adapting to the unique healthcare environment: Some accelerators are offering longer acceleration cycles to guarantee more market education for the complicated healthcare environment and some are offering higher funding sums due to healthcare’s long product development time.

Healthcare start-ups on the other hand have a very clear expectations towards accelerators – especially regarding the complicated healthcare market environment. Accelerators that are able to meet those expectations will be able to gain a competitive advantage.

We have conducted a survey among members of the global digital healthcare community and have asked them, which service offerings they value most from accelerators. What do start-ups want from accelerators?

From a bird’s eye: money, mentoring & access to traditional healthcare companies
From a bird’s eyes view there are three main challenges for start-ups in the digital health industry: money, mentoring and access into the health. The latter two illustrate the complexity of the healthcare market – for start-ups and for accelerators helping start-ups: Healthcare is a much more regulated industry and needs much more testing procedures for its medical products.

Funding and access to mentors are the most valued services from accelerators-min

Let’s zoom from the bird’s eyes view into details:

Partnering & networking – overall the biggest issue for healthcare start-ups

The service that is valued most by start-ups is funding. 42% of all start-ups are expecting funding – which in return means that approximately 60% of start-ups in digital healthcare are not necessarily expecting funding from an accelerator. 12% are expecting to have the possibility to pitch in front of an investor in order to raise their interest. In most accelerators those are called demo days.

The second most important service from accelerators in healthcare is access to mentors. One third (34%) of health start-ups are expecting mentoring. Another important aspect of mentoring is finding the right business model and/or the right strategy for bringing the business to international market. 22% hope to getting help from accelerators for this.

The third big service expected from health start-ups from accelerators is to get access to traditional healthcare companies (30%). Health start-ups need access to physicians, nurses, hospitals, health insurances, to get access to their specialist knowledge, network, services or credibility – which is often not easy to get for new market entrants.

When clustering the services that accelerators in healthcare are offering (see the inner ring of the chart above) networking & finding partners (71%) is the most important aggregated cluster.

Another big service block offering from accelerators is to help position the product in and get the product to market. 14% are expecting to get help with market and competitor analysis and 10% are expecting to get help with their marketing campaigns.

Finally, healthcare start-ups are expecting accelerators to help with product development and company development. Especially in the field of technical support/ access to engineers (9%), personal and team development (8%), design and UX (8%) and getting the product certified (8%).

Regional analysis: European accelerators and start-ups are facing different problems than their American counterparts

The above results are referring to a global level. Segmenting the results by region shows significant differences, e.g. between Europe and North America. Those differences start with the different amount of funding that is available in each region, stretches to different eco systems and extends to the different expectations that start-ups have towards accelerators in healthcare.

Health accelerators active in those specific regions should know about the differences and adapt accordingly. Here are some differences in the expectations of European and North American health start-ups:

  • European start-ups want more consulting on business models or internationalization strategy from their accelerators – compared to their American counterparts (the difference is 11 percentage points between those two!)
  • European start-ups are expecting “Access to political decision makers” to a higher extent. The fragmented European healthcare landscape has its effects on setting up and running a business in Europe: Access to political decision makers is needed in a much more scattered and diversified market environment.
  • European start-ups are also expecting help with certification to a higher extent. Esp. for healthcare start-ups that want reimbursement from insurance companies, certification is a must. Due to risk-averseness and also possible liability threats, insurance companies are putting emphasis on certification of health apps they might (consider) integrating into their reimbursement program. Some start-ups especially in mainland Europe even go so far to state that a health start-up will not even get a meeting appointment with a health insurance company, if they are not certified.

What else are start-ups expecting else from accelerators? – Contact us

Contact us if you are an accelerator and interested to find out more about accelerators in healthcare.

About the mHealth Economics program

The above results are some of the findings of our latest mHealth Economics study. It is the biggest research program about the digital health market. The research program has been analysing the mobile health market since 2010. It examines how successful mHealth app publishers work, how the market is changing, and where the market is heading.

Since 2010, more than 15,000 mHealth app developers and decision makers have participated in the research program and shared their views about the mHealth app market.

So far two reports have been published. Both reports can be downloaded for free.


For our study mHealth Developer Economics we have asked 2,400 decision makers from the global digital health community. The global split of the 2,400 answers is as follows: 47% of the answers are from Europe, 36% from North America, 11% from APAC, 4% from South America and 2% from Africa.

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