Best University Accelerators and Incubators of 2024

Find out whether your University made the cut for the best University accelerator and incubator programs of 2023.
February 24, 2024
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Stanford, UC Berkeley, Michigan ranked with a founder from each school to the right of the name

Hi, I'm Kieran. I worked in startups for five years at On Deck and Wefunder. I contributed directly to the accelerator products ODX (by On Deck) and XX (by Wefunder) at both places. I put this ranking together based on my knowledge of the space and feedback from founders, investors, and operators in the startup ecosystem who have knowledge of these programs.

If you're no longer in school, check out my piece on the top startup accelerators.

1. Stanford

Reid Hoffman, Co-founder of LinkedIn listening as he gets a question from an on-stage reporter.
Reid Hoffman, Co-founder of LinkedIn, is a notable Stanford alumni.

It's no surprise that Stanford tops the list with its standout accelerator and incubator programs. Stanford's incredibly selective and intelligent student body, proximity to top startups and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, and the alums' support make it a hotbed for leading startups.

StartX has helped 700+ startups worth over $26 billion, including Lime, Life360, and Patreon. In addition, Launchpad has produced 100+ startups that have raised over $600M in venture funding. 

Stanford has produced founders for some of the most valuable companies in the world, including Brian Acton (Co-founder of WhatsApp), Sergey Brin (Co-founder of Google), Reid Hoffman (Co-founder of LinkedIn), Reed Hastings (Co-founder of Netflix), Mary Barra (General Motors CEO), Phil Knight (Co-founder of Nike), Jerry Yang (Co-founder of Yahoo), Katrina Lake (Co-founder of Stitch Fix), and more.

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • StartX: A non-profit community for tech and medtech companies comprising serial founders, industry experts, Stanford faculty, and well-funded growth-stage startups. StartX is funded by Stanford University & Stanford Health Care. While the community does not require Stanford affiliation, it emphasizes it as most resources are geared towards tapping the Stanford University Alumni Network.
  • Launchpad: A 10-week incubator program for ten companies led by Stanford professor Perry Klebah for Stanford students.
  • Galvanizer: A student-led 8-week virtual accelerator program for female founders.
  • Cardinal Ventures: A student-founder community. They run an accelerator program, deeptech fellowship, and the College Ventures Network.

2. UC Berkeley (Cal)

Steve Wozniak, Co-founder of Apple, is a proud UC Berkeley alumni.

Cal is another standout when it comes to its accelerator and incubator programs. In recent years, Cal has invested more money into building its entrepreneurship ecosystem with new student-led programs like Free Ventures and private accelerators like The House popping up. In addition, Cal has made a considerable effort to bring back notable alums to support and share their knowledge with students and future entrepreneurs.

SkyDeck, which has been around since 2012, has already produced a combined valuation of over $1.7 billion. I expect The House AI Accelerator to outperform that just given the names and companies associated with it, including OpenAI, Databricks, and Microsoft.

Notable Cal startup alums include Tom Anderson (Co-founder of Myspace), Steve Wozniak (Co-founder of Apple), Marc Tarpenning (Co-founder of Tesla), and more.

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • The House AI Accelerator: A new accelerator in partnership between The House, OpenAI, Databricks, and Microsoft to provide $1 million in funding to Cal alumni, faculty, and students building world-changing AI startups.
  • Free Ventures: A student-led pre-seed startup accelerator. Watch my interview with them.
  • SkyDeck: An accelerator for Cal students, alums, and faculty to receive $200,000 in investment from its fund.
  • Blockchain Xcelerator: A non-profit accelerator started as a joint venture between Berkeley's Haas School of Business, SCET of Berkeley Engineering, and Blockchain at Berkeley to support Berkeley-affiliate teams building blockchain ventures.
  • Activate Berkeley: A two-year fellowship for Berkeley-affiliated teams to turn their technology concept into a product.
  • AI Entrepreneurs at Berkeley: A student-led 10 week incubator program for AI startups.
  • Health Engine: A student-led startup accelerator for healthcare startups. Watch my interview with them.

3. University of Michigan

Larry Page giving a speech to his employees infront of a Google logo.
Larry Page, Co-founder of Google, studied computer engineering at the University of Michigan.

The University of Michigan has some of the best accelerator and incubator programs. V1 Product Studio is the buzz around campus as it's attracted mentors from top startups Ramp, Squarespace, Tesla, and more.

In addition to its accelerator and incubator programs, Michigan has a fantastic hackathon scene. MHacks, a 36-hour hackathon run by Michigan students, was Dave Fontenot, who now runs HF0, brainchild. I expect the University of Michigan to stick around the top of this list with its heavy investment in incubator and accelerator programs that should produce valuable companies down the road.

Michigan alums who started influential companies include Larry Page (Co-founder of Google), Niklas Zennström (Founder of Skype), Jeff Lawson (Founder of Twilio), Brad Keywall (Co-founder of Groupon), Frederic Latta Smith (Co-founder of General Motors), and Edgar Nathaniel Gott (Co-founder of Boeing).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • V1 Product Studio: A product studio designed to help Michigan students to build software products.
  • Shift Creator Space: A community of designers, hackers, artists, and entrepreneurs. 
  • Desai: A university-led 7-month accelerator program for companies with at least one founder who is an upcoming graduate or alums of the University of Michigan
  • StartUM: A student-run incubator for Michigan students.
  • TechArb: A university-led student accelerator program.

4. Northeastern

Headshot of Biz Stone smiling at a charity event.
Biz Stone, Co-founder of Twitter, attended Northeastern before dropping out.

Northeastern is committed to entrepreneurship and startups with its incubators and accelerators. IDEA is one of the best student-led venture accelerators in the country, with $30,000 in grants. In addition, the Women's Interdisciplinary Society of Entrepreneurship spun up WeLaunch and WeBuild in recent years to accelerate the school's progress even more.

In addition, Northeastern has a co-op program that allows undergraduate students to work at a startup for a semester before returning to campus. We hired many students from Northeastern when I worked at Wefunder; all of them were sharp, eager to learn, and mission-driven. This co-op program is an excellent way for Universities to give their students a chance to gain exposure to the real world of startups and entrepreneurship by experiencing and contributing to it firsthand.

Some standout northeastern alumni include Marc Raibert (Founder of Boston Dynamics), Shawn Fanning (Founder of Napster), Biz Stone (Co-founder of Twitter), and Richard Egan (Co-founder of EMC).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • IDEA: A student-led venture accelerator with access to $30,000 in grants. Watch my interview with them.
  • Evolve: A student-led accelerator for Northeastern-affiliated healthcare and life sciences companies. 
  • WeLaunch: An accelerator for non-binary or female founders.
  • WeBuild: A community-based incubator for 8-10 Northeastern students per semester.

5. NYU

Jack Dorsey in a suit testifying before Congress.
Jack Dorsey, Founder of Twitter and Square, transferred into NYU in 1997 but dropped out with one semester to go.

New York University (NYU) offers a range of incubator and accelerator programs to support the growth of entrepreneurial ventures founded by NYU students and faculty. These programs provide access to funding, mentorship, and resources to help startups take their ideas from concept to market. Among the programs offered are the Stern Venture Fellows, Summer Launchpad, NYU Startup Sprint, and Biomedical Entrepreneurship Program. Whether providing stipends for personal or prototyping expenses, or offering skill-building workshops and peer support, NYU's incubator and accelerator programs help entrepreneurs succeed in bringing their innovations to the world.

Some notable NYU alumni who have made significant contributions to the startup ecosystem include Charles Ranlett Flint (Founder of IBM), Jack Dorsey (Founder of Twitter and Square), Charles Zegar (Co-founder of Bloomberg), and Sashi Reddi (Founder of App Labs).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • Stern Venture Fellows: A 10-week fellowship that provides a $10,000 non-dilutive personal stipend to each fellow and access up to $5,000 in prototyping expenses to NYU entrepreneurs.
  • Summer Launchpad: A 9-week accelerator providing $10,000 in non-dilutive funding for scalable startups led by NYU students and researchers. 
  • NYU Startup Sprint: A two-week program for NYU students and faculty to receive skill-building workshops, grant funding, and peer support.
  • Biomedical Entrepreneurship Program: An accelerator program to help accelerate the commercialization of biomedical discoveries and inventions made at NYU

6. Harvard University

Headshot of Nathan Blecharczyk, Co-founder and CSO of Airbnb.
Nathan Blecharczyk, Co-founder and CSO of Airbnb, is a noteworthy Harvard alum.

Like the school above it on this list, Harvard is also known for its stellar results regarding entrepreneurship. However, Harvard accelerator and incubator programs don't stand out compared to Standford and Cals. This is because its programs are university-led rather than private accelerators focused on supporting and funding Harvard-affiliated startups.

Harvard alums have founded some of the top companies in the world, including Nathan Blecharczyk (Co-founder of Airbnb), Stephen Kaufer (Co-founder of TripAdvisor), Robert S. Kapito (Co-founder of BlackRock, Michael Bloomberg (Co-founder of Bloomberg), Bill Gates (Co-founder of Microsoft, Scott Cook (Co-founder of Intuit), and more.

Accelerator or incubator programs:

7. MIT

Picture of Drew Houston, Co-founder of Dropbox, speaking at an event while sitting in a chair.
Drew Houston, Co-founder of Dropbox, led his company to an IPO worth $9.2 billion when it opened on the market.

Like Harvard, MIT could rank higher on this list if it had more private accelerator and incubator support for its students. Instead, its programs are university-led and focus more on curriculum than actually building a startup.

Nonetheless, MIT has produced some incredible founders such as Drew Houston (Co-founder of Dropbox), Brewster Kahle (Founder of Alexa), Colin Angle (Co-founder of iRobot), Amar Bose (Founder of Bose), and Anant Bhardwaj (Founder of Instabase).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • MIT delta v: An accelerator program that runs from June-Sept for MIT students with the ability to receive up to $20,000 in equity-free milestone funding.
  • MIT NYC Startup Studio: A startup studio in NYC for MIT students and alums with the ability to receive up to $20,000 in grant funding.
  • MIT Fuse: A 3-week micro accelerator for teams with at least one MIT student as a founder.
  • The MIT Entrepreneurship Club: A community that wants to help MIT students start companies and connect them with startup jobs. Watch my interview with them.


Mike Morhaime, Founder of Blizzard Entertainment, attended UCLA.

UCLA edges out USC on my list of best university accelerators and incubators mainly due to the UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator results – portfolio companies have already raised $220 million and account for 1,100+ jobs. Scale LA Aerospace Accelerator also looks to be in a solid position to succeed in the aerospace vertical with support from JPL and UCLA's Engineering and Aerospace programs.

Some impressive UCLA alumni include Tom Anderson (Founder of MySpace), Brian Lee (Founder of The Honest Company), Mike Morhaime (Founder of Blizzard Entertainment), Eric Jaffe (Founder of ChowNow), and Todd Mackey (Founder of GoGuardian).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator: A university-led accelerator initiative to support UCLA-affiliate startups with grant funding through various programs (Activate, Accelerate, Showcase, Advisory Program).
  • UCLA Health TechQuity Accelerator: An accelerator for UCLA-affiliated teams working on healthcare solutions regarding prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and community impact.
  • Startup UCLA: A 10-week summer accelerator for UCLA-affiliated startups.
  • Scale LA Aerospace Accelerator: An aerospace accelerator for pre-seed and seed-stage companies in collaboration with UCLA Samueli School Of Engineering.

9. USC

Marc Benioff, Founder of Salesforce, on stage listening to a reporter's question.
Marc Benioff, Founder of Salesforce, is a top USC alum.

While still not known for its startup scene, USC has increased the number of accelerators and incubators in recent years to try to compete with the Stanford and Cals of the world. As a result, the University now boasts a good mixture of student-led, private, and university-led accelerator and incubator programs to appeal to the student body. The USC Rossier Education Technology Accelerator is its focal point, but look for USC to be more competitive in other verticals soon.

Some top USC alumni include Marc Benioff (Founder of Salesforce), Scott Cook (Co-founder of Intuit), Chris DeWolfe (Co-founder of MySpace), and Marc Merrill (Founder of Riot Games).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • Spark SC: An accelerator for 5 USC startups each semester with advisors from USC faculty. Watch my interview with them.
  • Viterbi Startup Garage: A one-year incubator for USC-affiliated startups focused on deep technology, machine learning, and AI-enabled companies.
  • TroyLabs Accelerator: An student-run 8-week accelerator program for USC-affiliated startups that focuses on providing them with the necessary education, network, and resources to get started.
  • USC Rossier Education Technology Accelerator: A university-led education tech accelerator that does not require USC affiliation.
  • Marshall Grief Incubator: An incubator for startup teams with at least one USC student, alum, or faculty member.
  • Incubate USC: Offers several incubator and accelerator programs to showcase USC's startup ecosystem.

10. University of Pennsylvania (Penn)

Warren Buffet in a suit with hands clasped together looking directly at the camera.
Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, attended Penn.

Penn's accelerator and incubator programs are all university-led. Like Harvard and MIT, more private support from alums could turn this school into a contender to move up for its accelerator and incubator programs. One thing I like about Penn's accelerator program is that it doesn't confine it to Philadelphia, where the school is located. Instead, they bring the accelerator to San Francisco for all their current students and alums since most formidable startups end up there anyway. The access to talent, capital, and resources is second to none in the valley, and its smart to utilize it.

Penn's alums include Len Bosack (Co-founder of Cisco Systems), Warren Buffett (CEO of Berkshire Hathaway), Elon Musk (Co-founder of Tesla), Joseph Segel (Co-founder of QVC), William S. Paley (Founder of CBS), and Peter Nicholas (Co-founder of Boston Scientific).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • VIP-C: Penn's incubator program - open to all Penn students.
  • VIP-X in Philadelphia: A 3-month startup accelerator in Philadelphia for select alums and current students.
  • VIP-X in San Francisco: A 3-month startup accelerator in San Francisco for select alums and current students.

11. Yale

Anne Wojcicki, Co-founder of 23andMe, leaning on a sofa and smiling.
Anne Wojcicki, Co-founder of 23andMe, is a significant Yale alum.

The TSAI Center for Innovating Thinking has done a great job of creating programs tailored towards every part of the startup journey – from the beginning with Tsai CITY's Launch Pad for students just starting to the Tsai CITY's Accelerator program for students ready to scale their ventures. In addition, unlike many other university-led incubators and accelerators, Yale provides a decent amount of grant funding opportunities to students that participate and excel in their programs. This money makes it so that entrepreneurship is a more viable option for students directly after they graduate.

Some standout Yale alumni include William Boeing (Founder of Boeing), Briton Hadden (Co-founder of Time Magazine), Herbert Boyer (Co-founder of Genentech), Justin Kan (Co-founder of Twitch), Anne Wojcicki (Co-founder of 23andMe), Ben Silbermann (Co-founder of Pinterest), and Joel Spolsky (Co-founder of Stack Overflow).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • Tsai CITY Launch Pad: An incubator for Yale students at the earliest stages of starting a business.
  • Tsai CITY's Accelerator: An accelerator that runs every Fall and Spring semester to provide ventures with at least one full-time Yale student $2,000 in grant funding and resources to scale their business.
  • Tsai CITY Summer Fellowship: A multi-week accelerator that provides $15,000 in grant funding to current Yale undergraduate and graduate students who participate. 
  • Yale Entrepreneurial Society Incubator: An incubator for select Yale students who request an invite or get invited by a current member.

12. UT Austin

Michael Dell, Founder of Dell, in a blue suit and red tie.
Michael Dell, Founder of Dell, studied pre-med at UT Austin to please his parents.

UT Austin has several excellent options for students and alums, including Austin Technology Incubator, The LaunchPad at UT Austin, and Texas Momentum. UT Austin attracts some of the world's top students, and its no surprise they are investing more money into providing resources, facilities, and programs for its students to get exposure to entrepreneurship early in their careers.

Some notable alumni who have made a career from building startups include Michael Dell (Founder of Dell) and Austin Ligon (Founder of CarMax).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • Austin Technology Incubator: An incubator affiliated with UT Austin for its students and alums.
  • SEAL Summer Accelerator: A 9-week summer accelerator run in partnership with the Austin Technology Incubator.
  • The LaunchPad at UT Austin: A hub for UT Austin undergraduate and graduate students to explore and scale their ventures with the chance to win up to $5,000 in grant funding.
  • Texas Venture Labs Accelerator: A zero-cost, zero-equity 14-week startup accelerator for Texas startups that want to work with UT Austin graduate students.
  • Texas Momentum: A student-led 10-week accelerator program for UT Austin student startups.

13. Duke

Fred Ehrsam, Co-founder of Coinbase, in a sweater with hair slightly parted.
Fred Ehrsam, Co-founder of Coinbase, is a notable Duke alum.

Duke may have the best social impact accelerator for university students. Its partnership with UNICEF gives the program notable brand recognition, which startups participating can leverage to close customers, find partnerships, and more. Other than its social impact accelerator, Duke also has a summer accelerator that provides accepted students with $5,000, which is a considerable amount for the university accelerator scene, to further their ventures. As more alums create their success in startups, I expect Duke to continue adding resources and programs to support entrepreneurship on campus better.

Some significant contributors to the startup ecosystem include Fred Ehrsam (Co-founder of Coinbase), Tim Cook (CEO of Apple), Howard Lerman (Co-founder of Yext), and Andrew Rosen (CEO of Kaplan).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

14. Indiana University (IU)

Mark Cuban sitting in a suit in his shark tank chair on set.
Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks Owner, is a proud Indiana University alum.

Indiana University has better entrepreneurship programs than accelerators and incubators, but leaving them off this list would be wrong. Under the StartupIU umbrella, they have many noteworthy programs, including Project Entrepreneur and The Shoebox. Project Entrepreneur has helped 1,800 female founders raise over $60 million in funding. The Shoebox is a student-led incubator that provides office space and business development services. It's unclear who the top startups are from Indiana University, but with an ecosystem this strong, I imagine we'll see some here in the next couple of years.

Some standout alums include Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks Owner), Bob Chapek (ex-CEO of Disney), Donald Knauss (ex-CEO of Clorox), and Harold Arthur Poling (ex-CEO of Ford Motor Company).

Accelerator or incubator programs:

  • StartupIU: A community of changemakers, innovators, and entrepreneurs managed by the IU Shoemaker Scholars Program.
  • IU Faculty Startup Accelerator: A new startup accelerator to help Indiana University faculty and staff turn their research discoveries and professional insights into viable businesses.
  • SproutBox: A venture studio in Bloomington, Indiana, that actively recruits and sources new opportunities from students and alums of Indiana University.
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