Top 10 startup accelerators programs in New York

• 10 min read
Top 10 startup accelerators programs in New York

The events of  2020 have had unprecedented effects on the world economy, businesses and individuals. While the vast number of retail and services enterprises have been dealt a serious life-threatening blow, online business and organizations have, for the most part, seen unimagined growth. New businesses have continued to be founded at an increasing pace.

According to Statista:

  • 804,398 new businesses were formed in 2020 compared to 770,609 in 2019, a 104% increase during the worst pandemic in 100 years.
  • For each quarter in 2020 there were 61, 36, 65 and 13 investments made for a total of 175.
  • For the 1st quarter of 2021, 20 investments have been made. A noticeable decrease from 2020  and even more of a reduction from 2019 when there were 106 investments.
  • You would need to go back to 2014 to find another Q1 with total investments in New York City less than 30. This is not to say that Accelerators are slowing down.

There are approximately 130 major accelerator programs in New York City and dozens more local and internationally affiliated specialized incubators and accelerators.

The following is a list using published statistics of the  Number of Investments Made by the largest Accelerator Programs in New York City at the beginning of  2021:


The combined Dreamit Accelerators are first in New York in the number of investments with approximately 281. Founded in 2008, Dreamit focuses on access to funding and customer acquisition. The Dreamit programs encompass three areas of focus:

  • Dreamit Healthtech - digital health, medical device, and diagnostics
  • Dreamit Securetech - cybersecurity, anti-fraud, risk & compliance, and physical security
  • Dreamit Urbantech - (real estate tech and construction)

Dreamit only accepts startups with existing revenue or pilot programs.

  • Their emphasis is on scaling, customer growth and acquiring capital
  • The Dreamit program consists of providing the resources each startup needs to realize quantitative growth in a short amount of time.

Dreamit invites entrepreneurs to join a program on a rolling basis and onboards a new startup in each session every month. The program consists of:

  • 2 week, "customer-focused sprints" in which startups build a customer base and form partnerships and obtain feedback.
  • A startup will usually pitch to as many as 20 executive level members of leading firms in their field.
  • The "Sprints" occur 3 to 4 times a year. Each startup will participate in two Sets.

During the Covid-19 lockdown period there is a hybrid of in-person meetings and video-conferencing within established guidelines. Dreamit is taking applications for Sprints until April 2, 2021.

Techstars New York-Barclays Techstars-Kaplan Edtech Techstars

Techstars is second in New York in the number of investments with approximately 272 with the largest number of exits at approximately 37. Techstars was founded in Boulder, Colorado in 2006 making it one of the first startup accelerators offering support to entrepreneurs.

They expanded first across the US and then internationally. According to a Crunchbase analysis, when combined with Kaplan Edtech and Barclays, Kaplan Edtech focuses on startups in the education fields from K12 to life-long learning. Barclays Techstars offers programs solely for fintech startups.

The Techstar programs are themed and consist of a three-month intensive accelerator program. Competition is fierce for the ten to twelve slots in each session. The program is conducted in phases: mentorship, growth and investment culminating in the Demo Day when all ten companies pitch to investors, Techstar alumni, corporate partners and invited entrepreneurs. Mentors are available after the end of the program for advice and encouragement. In exchange 6% of the startup company, Techstars invests provides $25,000 for expenses, a $100,000 convertible note, access to Techstars network and over a million dollars worth of services.

Applications for various programs are opened six times a year for a period of twelve weeks. Currently all programs are offered remotely. Techstars started a completely  online program in 2017 called Techstars Anywhere. This experience has helped the transition to remote sessions and mentoring according to Ryan Kuder, Managing Director of Techstars Anywhere Accelerator. Techstars currently has five programs in different phases in New York City.

Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator

Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA) is the third largest accelerator in terms of the number of investments at approximately 253 and second in the number of exits at 20.  ERA has a large mentor network of more than five hundred investors, professionals and members of the tech community in all major industries in New York City. ERA mentors stay involved with companies as they grow.

ERA operates two four-month program sessions per year in their mid-town Manhattan offices. Companies are required to locate Each selected company receives an initial $100,000 investment plus an additional $500,000 in perks and credits.

Each week is structured to include:

  • "Founder Speakers Series" of presentations by successful NYC entrepreneurs; a series of workshops with experts and ERA alumni covering a diverse selection of relevant topics
  • fundraising sessions lead by ERA partners to prepare participants for meetings with potential investors and preparation of investor decks
  • Chief Technical Officer(CTO) roundtable sessions allow cohorts to exchange experience and problem solving
  • Mentor Meetings introduce ERA mentors to startup teams fostering communications that last beyond the structured program;
  • Pitch Practice provides time to prepare and refine your fund-raising pitch and get feedback from cohorts, entrepreneurs and ERA staff. A Demo Day is the commulation

Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator is currently taking application for their program starting June 2, 2021 and ending October 8, 2021. Deadline is Monday, April 26, 2021. The program format will depend on Covid-19 guidance. It may be virtual, in-person or a hybrid.

XRS Labs

XRC Labs is the fourth largest accelerator in terms of the number of investments at approximately 89. It runs programs In New York City in conjunction with Parsons School of Design at the New School. They bring together entrepreneurs, investors, brands and retailers to foster rapid innovation in retail operations and consumer products. They were started in 2015. They invite only 10 startups to join each cohort. This small number ensures that the program is focused on each company's ultimate success. The programs are run like most accelerator programs. Being located in New York City, XRC Labs is able to bring together the top retail talent, entrepreneurs, investors and retailers as lecturers and mentors.

XRC Labs provides a seed investment of $60,000 in exchange for 6% of a company's equity and a 20% discounted SAFE Note for $75,000. Each company pays a fee of $35,000 to cover all expenses including office space, mentorship, program events. The emphasis of the program is to encourage the next generation of "disruptors" in the retail technology and consumer goods space by providing startups with capital, mentoring and operational support.

XRC Labs is consistently taking applications forall Cohort sessions. The program format will depend on Covid-19 guidance. It may be virtual, in-person or a hybrid.

Grand Central Tech

Grand Central Tech is the fifth largest accelerator in terms of the number of investments at approximately 87. It is housed in The Company Building on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. The accelerator program is run by Company Ventures. The Grand Central Residency program assembles approximately twenty pre-series A companies and approximately ten pre-seed company entrepreneurs that are exploring new ideas. The one-year program provides rent-free workspace, and access to entrepreneurial experience and contacts.

The accelerator does not seek equity from the participants nor are there any program fees. It is a self-directed program for highly motivated founders. Applications began in February 2021 with a deadline in late March 2021. Program will start in April 2021.  Government mandated Covid-19 restriction will apply for all program events.

Blueprint Health

Blueprint Health is the sixth largest accelerator in terms of the number of investments at approximately 79. It was founded in 2011 as a community of healthcare entrepreneurs supporting startup tech companies in the healthcare field. The accelerator is located in SOHO sharing the 12,000 square feet of space with health care tech startups, health care strategists and investors forming the epicenter of a healthcare ecosystem. All program participants are required to move their operations to the Blueprint Health headquarters.Twenty healthcare IT companies are selected to enter the program each year and awarded a stipend of $20,000 plus other perks.

The program consists of an intensive twelve-week period in New York City but the staff and mentors work with the companies as long as needed. About half of the companies accepted are at a pre-seed development level while the other half are generating revenue. Making meaningful connections with mentors is essential to the program.

In a form of speed dating, upwards of 75 mentors are available for fifteen minute interviews with each company. Connections are made which extend through the program and afterwards. Weekly lectures are given by noted founders of healthcare IT firms. There are four major events during the sessions:

  • Launch Day,
  • Mentor Day,
  • Hands-on Mentor Breakfast
  • Demo Day, one of the preeminent health technology events in NYC attended by as many as 500 investors and executives.

Blueprint Health did not run a program in 2020. They were focused on their portfolio companies after two large acquisitions. They are requesting applicants to contact Blueprint Health in early 2021.

Starta Ventures

Starta Ventures is the seventh largest accelerator in terms of the number of investments at approximately 62. It was founded in 2011 with headquarters in New York City. Their goal is to assist entrepreneurs located outside of the US that want to expand into the US market with their products and services.

The accelerator program is part of Starta Ventures which includes two venture capital funds and a crowdsourcing platform. Starta Ventures also partners with SberBank and 500Startups to expand their network of talented individuals and investors.

They offer accelerator programs in three fields:

  • Starta Global Residency,
  • Biotech Residency and an
  • Online Pre-accelerator.

Starta Global Residency focuses on platform and integration software and the fields of AR,IoT and robotics. Biotech Residency focuses on life sciences and health innovations. The Online Pre-accelerator is a free six-week remote learning program that allows startups to become acquainted with the US markets, incorporate in the US, develop a pitch deck and meet US mentors and customers.

If accepted into a residency program, startups will come to NYC prepared to join an on-site accelerator program. Selected startup firms are given $20,000 and a fully functioning office with part-time employees for assistance. The program lasts three months and involves weekly assignments and consultations with Starta Ventures partners and mentors. The program culminates with a Demo Day attended by investors and potential customers. Graduating firms are able to join Starta's network of international founders to alumni support.

To be accepted to the accelerators programs the startups must have:

  • An existing operating business with a minimum viable product (MVP),
  • Sales in their home region and
  • Desire to make the US their primary market location.

Applications are being accepted online. Demo Day was a live-stream event on December 1, 2020. Accelerator programs are online following published guidance.


Urban-X is the eighth largest accelerator in terms of the number of investments at approximately 49. It was founded in 2016 and is located in Brooklyn, New York. The accelerator is sponsored by MINI and Urban US. The emphasis is on startups with solutions to future challenges for cities:

  • public health and safety
  • food waster and water
  • urban infrastructure
  • energy
  • mobility
  • governance technology

The accelerator program is twenty weeks of exercises in preparation for fundraising. Mentors are experts in urbantech challenges and understand regulated industries and government procurement. Selected startups receive at least $100,000 initial funding. Startups have full ownership over how the investment will be spent. Also provided is office space and access to mentors, customers and investors. During the program an Investor Day is held. At the end of every Cohort session is a Demo Day where startups present their prototypes and solutions to investors, the press and other influencers.

Application for Cohort 10 is open until April 8, 2021. The program will run from August 2021 through January 2022. Program location is under consideration.

Lair East Labs

Lair East Labs is tied for the ninth largest accelerator in terms of the number of investments at approximately 23.  It is an accelerator for founders interested in accessing Asian markets. Started in 2017, Lair East Labs runs two 10-week accelerator programs each year in New York City. Under normal circumstances, the startups are required to be in New York City for the entire program.  Lair Labs East makes an investment of $50,000 in each of the 10 to12 startups invited each year. An additional $350,000 in credits are available for cloud storage, developer tools and office space. The program combines learning from a mentor and investor networks with experience in Asian markets. The only requirement is that participants must attend:

  • roundtable sessions
  • workshops
  • prototype days

Participants are introduced to successful entrepreneurs and startup founders. They are given legal assistance with company formation and intellectual property protection in Asian countries. Like most accelerator programs the sessions end in a Demo Day.
Winter 2021 will be held. Applications were due on January 5, 2021. Contact Lair East Labs for schedule updates.

Big Ideas

Big Idea Ventures is tied for the ninth largest accelerator in terms of the number of investments at approximately 23. It was founded in 2018 and is located in New York City in the Financial District. Selection is limited to innovative companies in the plant-based, alternative protein ecosystem. Currently, there are two classes each year conducted solely in New York City. Future sessions are planned for Singapore. Plant-based startups are expected to have a minimum viable product developed. This is not a requirement for cell-based startups.

All participants are expected to relocate to the accelerator offices for the five month session. The staff works closely with each company to prepare them for growth. The mentor program introduces startups to the leading plant based agri-businesses in the world.
The selection process is rigorous as with all of the accelerators. Hundreds apply for the twenty to thirty spots available each year. Big Idea Ventures invests $200,000 into each startup , $135,000 in monetary support and $75,000 of in-kind support. Each company is given office space and access to test kitchens. The program generally follows the format of other accelerators except for the scientific lab and kitchen work required by most companies. Following culminating Demo Day and graduation from the program, companies receive continued support  from Big Idea Ventures, mentors and cohorts from around the world.
Due to covid-19 restrictions the sessions in 2020 were all held online.  Deadline for the 2021 sessions is March 15, 2021.


This list is less than 10% of the Accelerators headquartered in New York City and less than 0.1% of the 7,000 accelerator and incubator programs in the world. The vast majority are small and regionally or discipline oriented.  The Accelerators invest time and money in the new enterprises usually in exchange for equity in the new company; although, often as an altruistic venture.

Their prime method of fostering business success has been having cohorts together in one location to facilitate interaction between founders, mentors, guest speakers and investors. Due to Covid-19 restrictions most, if not all, have migrated their programs, conferences, meetings, collaborations, including demo days, online. For the vast majority of participants, this is business as usual.

During one of the most socially disruptive years in memory, accelerators have pressed on to fulfil the need for innovation and growth at this challenging time.
As an indication of the changes is venture funding, Crunchbase reports that for Series A and B rounds of $100 million or more in the US during January and most of February were secured by either Female or Black Founders, a total of 6 out of 20 firms.

In this rapidly changing world, there are innumerable challenges to solve. Investors have realized that diversity is an important formula for success. Accelerators are an important means of harvesting the talent and resources to meet these challenges in a rapid and efficient way.

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