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24 November 2021·10 min read

Dorota Potępa

Community Builder, Vestbee

Best Startup Accelerators And Incubators In Germany

There is a German saying einen großen Sprung machen which can be roughly translated to making a great work or career leap and it perfectly describes the German startup scene. In 2019, startups based in this country received a total of $6.9 billion in investments.

Nevertheless, the most thriving news is that 30% of German startups are focused on a business approach to solving social and environmental challenges such as climate change or energy and mobility transition.

In cooperation with local VCs, entrepreneurs and accelerators, Germany is pretending to become the capital of the European startup ecosystem.

So now, let’s discover its driving force - the best startup accelerators and incubators!


Founded in 2011, Wayra is the largest corporate accelerator in the world with a presence in Latin America and Europe, including the enormous Tech Lab in Munich. The Wayra acceleration program looks for startups from sectors such as 5G, Internet of Things, AI, Cybersecurity and Fintech, with a product already launched on the market and customer-first revenues. It lasts for four months, the first one is dedicated to the pre-acceleration phase and the remaining time is spent on venture development. After the program, each startup has a chance to get one of Wayra’s closest partners-Telefonica as a client.

In addition to the acceleration program, Wayra offers help with finding an investment among the best European VC Funds, access to the founders’ community and TechLab where teams can develop and deploy the 5G and Edge Computing use cases in the future.


Activatr is a program for founding corporate startups and is operated by the Company Builder Pioneering Spirit from Stuttgart. The Activatr team is looking for so-called innovation challenges, which are set by established companies and serve as a basis for ideas. Its primary focus is on startups that want to develop innovative business models and use them to found companies in future-relevant areas such as the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, Future Mobility or Smart Cities.

During the program, selected teams have a chance to develop the business model, validate the idea itself and compile go-to-market strategies. In the end, ideally, startups are spun off, including the investment of the corporate partner or other investors.


Next Media Accelerator, initiated in 2015, is still the leading accelerator concentrated on innovation in the media and marketing sector. The program takes place in Hamburg and lasts for six months and provides workshops, mentoring sessions, coaching, individual mentoring sessions, and also access to the German publishing industry network.

The main goal of NMA is to prepare startups for international markets, partner up with high-class media, get traction and present the idea during the Demo Day in front of the most important players of the European startup ecosystem.


One of the most known accelerators worldwide is Techstars based in the capital city of Germany, Berlin, however, it is not limited to this location. You can find Techstars branches in the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, and all over the USA.

The application process for the acceleration is open six times a year (sic!) and the program itself lasts for 3 months. At the time, Techstars’ team introduces founders to the best mentors, and their enormous network of corporate partners, investors and alumni. Each of Techstars’ acceleration programs provides funding, workshops tailored to the needs of a startup and further fundraising opportunities. Techstars accelerator is not focused on a specified sector or stage of the startup, the only thing that matters is an innovative idea and the team's readiness to work hard.

There are already 16 unicorns in Techstars’ portfolio, so maybe your startup can be on the 17th?


Based in Leipzig, Spinlab accelerator is unique in many ways. It not only directly partners up with one of Europe’s most reputable business schools  - HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management but also works closely with more than 25 corporations from various sectors. Spinlab seeks scalable, technology-based concepts in the later pre-seed, seed, or expansion phase. The program is completely free of charge which means that accepted founders don’t pay a fee or share the equity. Moreover, accepted teams receive €6000 in free funding to support living costs in Leipzig.

In Spinlab’s startup portfolio, you can find companies such as Agranimo, AIcura medical or Brain Plug.


Based in Munich, XPRENEURS is an incubator looking for high-tech innovation startups, especially working on solutions such as smart city, mobility, smart enterprise, software & hardware or medical technology. The application process consists of three stages (online application, pre-selection, pitching)  that enable to choice of only the most motivated and ready to participate in 3-month full-time program teams. Moreover,  the accelerator is tailor-made for each startup in order to meet all individual needs.

The XPRENEURS team doesn’t take any equity or fee for participating in the program. Its main goal is to build and support Europe’s ecosystem by engaging experienced entrepreneurs in the incubation program and kicking off innovative businesses.

Axel Springer Plug and Play 

The name of this accelerator speaks for itself - it’s a joint linking Plug and Play Tech Center, an international startup accelerator, with Axel Springer SE, the market leader in the German print business. Thanks to such collaboration, Axel Springer Plug and Play accelerator provides a place to work, access to a global network, international opportunities for development, individual mentoring, up to €25000 funding and gives participants the possibility to cooperate with top companies from all over the world. Nevertheless, in exchange, ASPnP asks for 5% equity.  What is exceptional is that the alumni network and mentors support startup teams not only during the program but also throughout their whole entrepreneurial journey.


Xcel has accelerated over 70 startups focused on innovating the hospitality and retail industry. Xcel in cooperation with industry partners such as METRO, Target and P&G, has managed to create structured and customizable programs adjusted to the startups’ needs and stage of innovation in order to help them constantly grow and scale. Xcel not only runs a quarterly partnered acceleration program but also supports the startup ecosystem by organizing bi-monthly community meetups. Through these events, entrepreneurs have a chance to collaborate in a meaningful way and discuss current business challenges that they are facing.


Founded in 2014, Techfounders has already accelerated more than 120 startups, among which are many success stories such as ProGlove or KONUX. Its team concentrates on startups from the automotive field, robotics, automation, clean-tech, software, telecommunications, electronics, big data, industry 4.0, mobility and related industries. The acceleration program lasts for 20 weeks and consists of workshops, meetings with entrepreneurs and investors, and individual coaching sessions. The highlight of the program is The Demo Day which is preceded by numerous pitching training, so each team has a chance to practice under the tutelage of experts and then present its business best.

Techfounders is proud of its success rate, as 82% of accelerated startups are alive while 52% of the teams still cooperate with corporate partners from the program.

German Accelerator

The primary goal of the German Accelerator is to empower German startups to scale globally. There are four types of programs, all offering customized marketing, extensive network and individual support but targeting different sectors.

The first one, the Academy program, focuses on internalization and building a global mindset. The second one, Market Discovery, aims to help explore markets in Asia and the next one, Market Access Program, supports entering international markets. The last one is quite specific as it is designed for life sciences startups and centres on the individual needs of this industry.

What is interesting, is the fact that the German Accelerator is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy as they are certain that investing in startups equals investing in innovation.

Next Commerce Accelerator

Founded in 2017, Next Commerce Accelerator has already sourced more than 6 000 startups and funded 47 of them. Along with its corporate partners, NCA builds an innovation network of funders. This customized 6-month acceleration program helps reach a product-market fit with best-in-class commerce industry-related corporates testing, coaching and support from experienced entrepreneurs who have successfully built companies and act as a backbone of the German startup ecosystem. Furthermore, NCA invests up to €150k in each admitted startup and prepares the participants for follow-on investments. Besides that, every team is provided with tailored workshops that are supposed to fill the gaps in their entrepreneurial journey.

EIT Health

Based in the heart of Munich, EIT Health is not actually an accelerator nor an incubator but a broad community of world-leading health innovators, backed by the European Union. Depending on who you are, what you do and where you are based, you can choose between a vast amount of acceleration or incubation programs, bootcamps and many more initiatives organized by EIT Health focused on the healthcare sector. Most of those actions are free of charge and are determined to support med-tech projects.

EIT Health connects people who want to answer the biggest health challenges by bringing together business, education and research.


EWOR was built for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. Its leadership team built and sold fast-growing tech companies - including a €500 Mio exit, building the world’s largest entrepreneurship society for U26-year-olds and doing over 100 private angel investments. They provide venture capital (up to €150K), a network to over 10 unicorn founders, and high-quality entrepreneurship education designed by serial entrepreneurs. They combine an entrepreneurship Master’s Degree with an early-stage VC firm to help outstanding talents of all age groups build impactful tech companies.

Want to discover more accelerators and incubators from other countries? Check out the list below. 
Top Accelerators and Incubators from:

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