Everything you need to know.

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Does my company qualify for the German Accelerator programs?

To qualify for any German Accelerator program, your company has to meet our selection criteria:

  1. Your company must be incorporated in Germany with one of the following legal forms: UG; AG; GmbH; GmbH & Co. KG. We also consider GbRs on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Qualify as a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) based on the EU definition of a SME
  3. Be under the limit of the official EU De-minimis aid regulation

For our Market Access programs, we look at the following factors to indicate whether your company is ready to expand to new markets:

  • Product: A product with significant potential in the U.S. or Asian markets and scalable business model, or a proprietary, disruptive technology or product.
  • Market traction: For non-healthcare or life science companies, your product or service should have a solid number of customers and traction in Germany. Healthcare and life science companies should demonstrate a high unmet or under-met market need for the proposed solution.
  • Revenue/Funding: Your company needs to be adequately funded for the duration of the program, including the associated travel, accommodation, and business expenses.
  • Runway: Startups with sufficient funding, usually for the next 6 to 9 months (usually Seed or Series A as well as extended Series A, Series B, and C) are ready for our programs in the U.S. and Asia, as well as for the Life Sciences program.
  • Team: The members of the founding and management team need to be willing to learn, actively participate in the program, and be fully committed to establishing operations in the market and/or region.
  • Strategic Planning: Before you start your expansion journey, you should consider if you have the required resources and willingness to grow your company to new markets and hire people abroad. Your team will have to manage the core business at home effectively while key decision-makers dedicate time to focus on the program and on the U.S. or Asia expansion.
  • Board Members: Your investors and board members should support your plans to expand your company’s business to new markets with the help of our program.
  • Physical Presence: For our Japan Market Access program, a physical presence in Japan is required.

    For our Kickstart program, we consider the following minimum criteria to ensure your company is ready to start working on the basics for international expansion:

    • Team: Core team functions (such as founding team, team quality, and dynamics) set up.
    • Product: An existing product and business model in place.
    • Commitment: Founder or C-level commitment to the program.
    • For our China Market Discovery program, participation in the China Essentials workshop is a prerequisite.
    Are there any knock-out criteria or restrictions for my company to qualify for the program?

    The basic requirements for your company to apply to any of our programs are:

    1. Company must be incorporated in Germany
    2. With one of the following legal forms: UG; AG; GmbH; GmbH & Co. KG. We are happy to also consider GbRs on a case by case basis.
    3. Qualify as a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) based on the EU definition of a SME
    4. Be under the limit of the official EU De-minimis aid regulation
    Can I apply if my company’s founder(s) is not German?

    Sure! Founder nationality has no impact on our selection. As long as your company meets our selection criteria, and is incorporated in Germany, you are welcome to apply.

    When is the right time for my company to go to the U.S., Asia, or South America?

    We always encourage startups to think about international expansion from the very beginning, as it helps you to build a scalable business model that will easily allow you to better position yourself in a global context. In terms of when you should go to the U.S., Asia, or South America, there are a few indicators that you can look for, and your company can meet all or some of the following:

    1. When you have a proof-of-concept in your home market. You will have very clear KPIs, such as a stable revenue stream, secured funding for market expansion, or a large enough team for increased capacity.
    2. When you identify market potential in the U.S. and/or Asia and/or South America and you have a good product-market fit. This happens when you can identify an uptrend in the industry that you are playing in and your product fits well in the overseas markets.
    3. When you have the capacity and required resources in terms of people and finances to really tackle the challenge of entering a new market and establishing a business in a different country.
    4. Most important of all is knowing when your team is mentally ready as you need to dedicate a lot of resources to business expansion. You and your team should be able to embrace long periods of trial and error, but of course, you are not alone during the process and our team and mentors will guide you through every step along the way.

    Our company scouts are happy to advise you. Contact us!

    Can I participate in multiple programs?

    Yes! Our Academy, Market Discovery and Market Access programs are designed to help companies at every stage of readiness for international expansion. As your company may be a good fit for both the U.S. and/or Asian and/or South American markets, you can participate in multiple programs. However, we encourage you to rather focus on one program at a time, as we require that at least one founder or C-level executive attends the program 75% of the time. On top of that, international expansion, in general, requires a lot of resources and dedication. Our company scouts are happy to advise you. Contact us!


    How much do I have to pay for participating in one of the programs?

    We don’t take any equity and our Academy and Market Access programs are free of charge. For startups that want to explore first potential business opportunities in Asia or South America, we offer a shorter market discovery program for a small participation fee (€500 per startup, up to 3 participants). We provide unbiased advice, individual coaching and mentoring, as well as free office space in the locations. However, you are responsible for your own associated costs such as travel and accommodation, and the more active you are during the program, the greater the outcome for your business will be. Read more about our code of conduct.

    Will German Accelerator take equity or options from my company if I participate in the programs?

    We don’t take any equity from our startups and our programs are financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). Our goal is to help you succeed. No hidden agendas, no strings attached.


    How and when do I apply?

    You can apply online at any time!


    Kickstart Cohort 2024-5:
    Application Deadline: June 16, 2024
    Program Dates: July 15 – July 30, 2024
    On-site Date(s): July 16, in Rostock, Germany

    Kickstart Cohort 2024-6:
    Application Deadline: August 4, 2024
    Program Dates: September 3 – September 18, 2024
    On-site Date(s): TBD

    *Kickstart program cycles will be offered throughout the year and in various cities across Germany. Upcoming Kickstart program cycles and locations can be found here.


    United States:

    U.S. Market Access
    Application Deadline: July 29, 2024
    Program Dates: September 30, 2024 – January 31, 2025

    Life Sciences Market Access
    Application Deadline: July 29, 2024
    Program Start: Mid September 2024 – January/February 2025


    Southeast Asia Market Access
    Application Deadline: June 3, 2024
    Program Dates: July 22, 2024

    Southeast Asia Market Discovery & AI Market Discovery
    Application Deadline: June 3, 2024
    Program Dates: July 22 – August 30, 2024

    Asia Market Discovery
    Application Deadline:  April 19, 2024
    Program Start: May 20, 2024

    Japan Market Access
    Application Deadline: August 30, 2024
    Program Dates: October 14, 2024 – January 17, 2025

    Japan Market Discovery
    Application Deadline: August 30, 2024
    Program Dates: November 4 – December 13, 2024

    India Market Discovery
    Application Deadline: July 25, 2024
    Program Dates: September 23 – November 7, 2024

    India Market Access
    Application Deadline: July 15, 2024
    Program Dates: September 2 – December 10, 2024
    In-Country Dates: October 21 – 27, 2024

    South Korea Market Discovery
    Application Deadline: September 20, 2024
    Program Dates: November 11 – December 20, 2024

    China Market Discovery
    Application Deadline: July 12, 2024
    Program Dates: August 26 – September 27, 2024
    *Additional China Market Discovery program information and prerequisites can be found here.

    South America:

    South America Market Discovery
    Application Deadline: July 8, 2024
    Program Dates: August – September, 2024 (Exact Dates TBD)

    What does the application process look like?

    After we have collected common business data about your startup, a dedicated expert committee, comprising internal and external members, evaluates all applications based on a predefined set of admission criteria. We treat your data with utmost diligence and you will not be required to disclose information about the details of your proprietary solution. In order to evaluate whether your company fits into our programs, our selection committee needs information about your business progress, funding status, and market opportunity. As mentioned in the ‘Eligibility’ section, to qualify for any of our German Accelerator programs, your company must be under the official EU De-minimis aid regulation limit. Hence, you will be required to complete a De-minimis declaration as part of your application. If you don’t feel comfortable with answering our application questionnaire, you can reach out to our scouting team at any time. You can find the details of each program’s specific application process below:

    Market Access, Market Discovery, and Life Sciences

    1. Application Form: Provide your pitch deck and complete the online application questionnaire.
    2. Pitch: The Selection Committee will review all applications. Shortlisted applicants will pitch online in front of our Selection Committee, consisting of accomplished entrepreneurs and business experts. We will notify you of the committee members in advance. Please be prepared for a Q&A session afterwards.
    3. Selection: The Selection Committee members decide which companies are accepted into the program. Successful applicants will be notified of their acceptance into the program, and details on next steps will be provided.


    1. Application Form: Provide your pitch deck and complete the online application questionnaire.
    2. Selection: Our Selection Committee will review your application and eligible startups will be notified.

    If you want some further tips for your application, pitch deck, and presentation, you can find some articles in our German Accelerator blog.

    How long does the selection process take and how quickly can I start after being selected?

    Market Access, Market Discovery, and Life Sciences: You may submit the program-specific application form, during the application window. The selection process takes approximately six weeks from the application deadline until acceptance.

    Kickstart: During your application, you may select the program class of your choice. Should you meet our selection criteria, we will confirm your participation in one class approximately four to six weeks before the program begins. Please note the additional prerequisite for the China Market Discovery program.

    What are my chances of being accepted into the programs?

    Our programs are highly competitive and we cannot accept all applications. We focus on high-quality and high-potential German startups from all sectors and assess each company based on our selection criteria. We also see it as a part of our responsibility to protect young companies from failing, even in Germany if they try to internationalize their business too early while underestimating the required resources. In those instances, we recommend startups to apply for our Academy offerings.

    Will you protect my intellectual property?

    There is no need to because our application process does not require you to provide the recipe for your “secret sauce” and you will not be required to disclose information about the details of your proprietary technology. We will, however, ask for information that demonstrates your business progress, funding status, and market opportunity. This information is critical to help us evaluate your fit for the program.

    Any confidential information that is disclosed will be protected under a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

    Can I re-apply to the program? Is there a certain waiting period?

    Our program is highly competitive and unfortunately, we can’t accommodate all applicants. It is important to us to conduct a fair and unbiased selection. Our Selection Committee of internal and external experts do their best to select the companies that they believe have the greatest potential to benefit from the program. If you are not accepted the first time you apply, you are welcome to re-apply to the program based on the application deadline.

    To have the best chance of being admitted on the second try, we recommend updating your application with new information demonstrating additional progress before re-submitting. If you require specific advice around your application, please reach out to our company scouts.

    Program Content

    How can I benefit from participating in a German Accelerator program? What will be the main outcome?

    All of our programs are designed to understand, discover, and access the world’s leading innovation hubs. You can directly benefit from our team’s expertise around the globe, our mentors’ in-depth experience and knowledge during individual coaching and workshop sessions. Access to our vast global network will allow you to connect with potential customers, business partners, and investors. Free office space in our innovation hubs around the world will enable you to hit the ground running while focusing on the most important decisions. Our programs are highly customized to each participants’ individual needs in order to help you enter international markets and succeed quickly.

    What are German Accelerator’s success stories?

    More than 500 companies have graduated from our German Accelerator programs so far. See our portfolio here. Many of our participating companies from all kinds of industries have had tremendous success since graduating from our German Accelerator programs. Examples are Wingcopter, Reactive Robotics, German decacorn Celonis, and many other industry leaders and challengers. Read their success stories here.

    How does the program differ from Y Combinator, Techstars, and other Accelerators?

    Unlike most other programs, German Accelerator doesn’t take any equity. All our market access programs are free of charge. For startups that want to explore first potential business opportunities in Asia, we offer the shorter market discovery program for a small participation fee. In addition, and as you can probably tell from our official name, we focus our support specifically on the needs of German startups. Similar to other top global accelerators, our experienced experts will work closely with founders and executives to develop the foundations for fast growth, scalable and repeatable marketing and sales processes, and fundraising strategies.

    Which program is the right one for me?

    Choosing the right program and location is a very individual decision. Think about the market you want to enter, the opportunities you want to explore, the current consumer trends and business landscape. This is a good starting point for your decision on whether a program in the U.S., Asia, South America, Life Sciences program, or our Kickstart in Germany is the right fit for you. It’s important to consider what kind of resources you are looking for.

    1. Where are the majority of your potential customers or partners located?
    2. Where are your potential acquisition resources etc.?
    3. Are there any competitors around already? Where are your competitors based?

    If you’re just starting to think about internationalization, our Academy equips startups with the necessary skills and tools needed to build a successful and scalable international business.

    You can find further advice in our blog and please don’t hesitate to contact our company scouts.

    How can I best prepare for participation in one of the programs requiring extended stays/engagement?

    For our Market Access and Life Sciences programs:

    • Make yourself redundant to operations in Germany: You need to focus 100% on the new market in order to benefit best from our services. Therefore, we recommend “getting your house in order” in Germany, so you don’t have to do two (or more) jobs at once.
    • Think about the goals you want to achieve during the time in the program and create a vision for yourself and your team.
    • Do your homework. You can schedule meetings with potential customers, investors, and partners before arriving on the ground. You don’t have to be on the ground to do some research on events that may be interesting.
    • Our experience has shown that open-minded, motivated companies who are hungry to learn, open to speaking with as many people as possible, and who embrace upcoming challenges will be the most successful.
    • Set up any logistical basics such as accommodation, bank account, insurance, etc. in advance to save time during the program. This helps you to really focus on your business and to get the most out of your time on the ground. Our local teams are always happy to support you or provide further information before you arrive in the respective location. Make sure you leverage the official preparation calls and ask all the questions you have. Don’t hold back, we’re there to help!
    • The length of time you are required to be on-site depends on your individual goals and will be discussed with the program team.
    What should I consider while participating in the program?
    • Align crucial decisions with your co-founders or C-Team and keep them in the loop about strategy, progress, and also challenges on the ground.
    • Stay in touch with your German team. It’s essential to have frequent calls and check-ins not only with your co-founders but also with the team in order to keep them updated on the progress in terms of expansion, and make the expansion experience a little tangible to those who stay in Germany.
    • Yes, you need to check in with your teams and, yes, you are important for the business in Germany, but don’t forget to sleep.
    What do I need to know about working with the mentors?

    Our global mentor network consists of experienced entrepreneurs, industry experts, and leading individuals in the respective foreign market. Our mentor list is growing continuously. They will evaluate what your company needs in order to be successful in a new market, support you in developing a strategy, and work closely together with you. Based on your company’s needs, we will match you with a lead mentor who has relevant experience and a network in your industry. In addition, we have various experts on many different topics in our pool of mentors and coaches, who you can meet in focused workshops but also in dedicated 1-2-1 sessions. 

    Feel free to check out our mentor database, and filter based on expertise and location to find mentors that are most relevant to you. Or check out these interviews with our startups and mentors about their experience.

    Our mentors and local program teams will give you access to a vast global network consisting of potential partners, clients, investors, and industry experts. Based on your individual needs, we will introduce you to the right people at the right time.

    What can I expect from a mentor?

    Our mentors are true experts in their field. They will guide and advise you on how to make your expansion most successful. They will challenge your business concept, product-market-fit, customer approach, and they might even shake a few things up here and there, and help you look at things from different angles. Be sure to prepare in advance to get the most out of your sessions with the mentors and coaches. Challenge them to challenge you because in the end, it is up to you to learn and grow fast, and make the most out of your time abroad. You are in the driver’s seat and you are the decision maker for your own business success. Check out: How to get the most of your mentoring.

    Will the mentors introduce me to potential clients and investors in their network?

    Our vast global network consists of many different people including potential partners, clients, and investors. Based on your individual needs, our mentors will introduce you to their contacts once your company is ready to gain real experience in business conversations in a foreign market. If you need further help with your fundraising strategy or customer approach, they can provide guidance and help, too, and will help get you ready.

    Will I get help to build my local team? Will the mentors be able to introduce the right talent from their personal networks?

    We have mentors who are experts in a wide variety of fields and are happy to make introductions, but you will have to take care of the actual implementation. Open positions posted by current participants will be listed on our job board. When it comes to recruiting, we are always happy to spread word about vacancies within our German Accelerator networks to see if we know someone who would be suitable for one of our startups, but beyond that we’re not involved in any recruitment process.

    Can I stay in touch with you even after the program has ended?

    We love keeping our participants close and hearing from our startups even after completing the program. Post-program, you will become part of our active German Accelerator Family and Community that supports each other with ongoing knowledge, support, and information exchange. The German Accelerator team will remain close to you and your company, be the proud supporter and champion for your development and successes, and will also invite you to German Accelerator events in Germany and around the globe. This is just the beginning of your international expansion, and we are happy to invite you to join any of our other German Accelerator programs. Participation in multiple programs is possible! We also have a German Accelerator Ambassador Program in place, in order to help other startups learn more about their international expansion opportunities, and hear from participants directly. In this program, we work closely together with selected alumni that will share their experiences and insights of their participation in our webinars, at events, and during workshops.

    Program Administration

    How long is the program?

    All our programs and services are now running fully virtual and our startups are preparing for their international expansion journey from home. The duration differs according to the program you select:

    U.S. Market Access Program: The program lasts a minimum of three months, with an intensive boot camp week in the beginning. After the initial three months, the program length differs based on each startup’s needs.

    Southeast Asia & Japan Market Access Program: The program runs for a minimum of five months, with an intensive boot camp in the first three weeks of the program. After the initial five months, the program length differs based on each startup’s needs.

    Life Sciences Program: The program runs for a minimum of five months, and can be extended depending on each startup’s needs.

    Market Discovery Program: The program lasts between five to seven-weeks, depending on the market that you select.


    The Kickstart program will be conducted in half-day sessions spread over a two-week time period. Each startup will have three to four individual mentor sessions during the program duration.

    What do you expect from my company? (Is there a code of conduct?)

    We don’t take any equity from our startups and our programs are financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). Our goal is to help you succeed. No hidden agendas, no strings attached. However, we expect our companies to become an active part of our community for their own advantage. The more present, committed, and engaged you are during the program, the greater will be the outcome for your company in the end. Furthermore, we will occasionally ask you for feedback to help us improve our programs and services and require your input and insights to do so. We are committed to making the program a valuable experience for your company and we expect the same level of commitment from you.

    Which team member should attend?

    At least one of the founders or C-level Executives is required to participate in the program. However, we recommend that at least two people participate in the program, including one with significant business background and expertise.

    Will you help me with visa/immigration issues?

    We are happy to support your visa application with a letter of recommendation. However, as visa/immigration issues can vary according to your personal situation, we recommend that you obtain expert advice and/or contact the local German embassy. We can also connect you to visa lawyers if necessary.

    Asia: The Asia Market Access program is based in Singapore. As a Startup SG EntrePass Partner organization, applications for program participants, under specific terms, will be prioritized. Entrepass allows you to stay for one year to set up your company in Singapore.

    Will German Accelerator pay for my flight and accommodation? Where will I live during participation?

    Program services such as mentoring and office space will be provided by German Accelerator and are free for participating companies. However, you are responsible for associated costs, such as travel, accommodation, and cost of living. We can provide relevant housing information and our local team members can provide a starter kit with helpful information and resources as well as a list with housing recommendations. 

    Do you provide housing for your program participants?

    No, we don’t provide any accommodation for program participants. However, our local team will provide a list with recommendations. We will also provide a Starter Kit with helpful information on housing options and resources.

    Who is behind the program and why are you doing this?

    We are a team of successful entrepreneurs, industry experts, and investors who truly enjoy helping German startups become global category leaders. Our program is proudly financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), based on a decision by the German Bundestag. It is their belief that investing in startups is directly investing in innovation to the benefit of the German economy.