Comparing 10 Best Startup Incubators in Singapore and Around the Globe

Published on
March 31, 2021
Written by
Marissa Saini
Writers@Aspire
Reviewed by
Episode #
Comparing 10 Best Startup Incubators in Singapore and Around the Globe
Compare and weigh top incubators from around the globe. From Antler, Entrepreneur First, Y-Combinator, 500 Startups & more.
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Startup incubators assist in addressing these issues by offering a supportive atmosphere that promotes growth and success. They offer entrepreneurs access to resources such as funding, office space, and mentorship, as well as opportunities to connect with other entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts.

What Is The Main Purpose Of Incubators?

Incubators are organizations that provide the necessary groundwork such as resources, mentorship, and other support to entrepreneurs and startup businesses. Incubators are typically located in an office or facility and offer an array of services and programs that help entrepreneurs develop their business ideas and launch successful enterprises. Some of the resources an incubator provides include mentoring, workspace, and access to funding sources. Additionally, an incubator typically offers educational opportunities, such as workshops and seminars, tailored to the needs of entrepreneurs. Incubators can play an important role in helping to launch innovative businesses and create jobs.

Overall, startup incubators play an important role in assisting entrepreneurs in turning their ideas into profitable enterprises, stimulating innovation and economic growth, and creating new technologies and businesses.

Startup Incubator vs. Accelerator

Startup incubators and accelerators are two organizations that help startups with different needs. Incubators provide extended mentorship, resources, and access to capital over an extended period. In contrast, accelerators offer specialized experience over a shorter period of three to four months. This includes access to networks, legal advice, funding opportunities, and learning opportunities. Accelerators focus on companies with proven track records and products in hand for quick scaling.

Here are some key differences between the startup incubator and accelerator:

Focus

Incubators tend to be more focused on providing startups with resources and support to help them get off the ground, such as office space, funding, and mentorship. Accelerators are more focused on helping startups grow quickly and reach specific milestones, such as launching a product or raising investment.

Duration

Startup incubators are often longer-term initiatives that provide ongoing assistance and resources to startups for months, if not years. On the other hand, accelerators are usually shorter programs that last a few months and focus on helping startups make rapid progress and reach specific milestones.

Mentorship

Both incubators and accelerators provide mentorship to startups, but the focus and style of mentorship can differ. Incubators may provide more ongoing, hands-on support to startups, while accelerators may offer more focused, intensive mentorship over a shorter period of time.

Investment

Incubators often provide seed funding or other forms of support to startups, but the focus is typically on helping startups get established and grow. On the other hand, accelerators usually invest a small amount of money in exchange for an equity stake in the startup, with the goal of helping startups grow quickly and reach a specific outcome, such as a successful exit.

How Can Startup Incubators & Accelerators Help You

Incubators and Accelerators can be invaluable resources for startups looking to grow quickly and successfully. They provide an environment for startups to receive mentorship and networking opportunities and get access to the resources, tools, and guidance to refine their business model. In addition, many incubators and accelerators offer investment funding to promising startups, giving them the capital to bring their project to life. Finally, incubators and accelerators can help startups to form strategic partnerships with other companies and organizations that can help bring value to their venture.

Overall, incubators and accelerators help startups to flourish. By participating in a program, startups can benefit from the experience, expertise, and resources of the incubator or accelerator, which can help them overcome the hurdles of starting and scaling a business.

Pros Of Startup Incubators

Early Support

Startups in an incubator program can benefit from an early base of support from people and organizations that understand the unique needs of starting a new business. This support can give them the leg up they need to establish their venture quickly.

Mentorship and guidance

Entrepreneurs can benefit from the guidance and advice of experienced mentors, who can provide valuable insights into starting and growing a successful business.

Networking opportunities

Incubators provide opportunities to connect with other entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts, which can be valuable for building relationships and finding potential customers, partners, or investors.

Funding Opportunities

Startups in an incubator program may also be able to access capital from investors or other organizations that provide funding for new businesses.

Incubator programmes can provide startups with the resources and amenities they need to get started. This can include everything from office space to access to legal and financial services.

Cons Of Startup Incubators

Equity requirement

Some incubators may require startups to give up a portion of their equity in exchange for support, which can be a significant cost for early-stage companies.

Limited Resources

Incubators can provide supportive resources and assistance, but they might not always be able to provide a startup with everything it needs to thrive. For instance, a startup might need substantial funding or specialized knowledge to help scale its business, which the incubator might not be able to offer.

Limited focus

Incubators may have a limited focus or work with startups in specific industries, which may not be suitable for all entrepreneurs.

Limited time

Incubators typically have a set period of time for startups to benefit from their resources, and may require startups to leave once their time is up, even if the startup is not yet fully developed. This might be detrimental to startups that require more time to grow and flourish.

Ultimately, the decision to use a startup incubator should be based on carefully considering your specific needs and goals. It's important to research different incubators, understand the resources and support they offer, and carefully evaluate the costs and benefits before making a decision.

Are Startup Incubators Worth It?

For some entrepreneurs, participating in a startup incubator can be a valuable experience that provides access to resources and support that would be difficult to find elsewhere. Incubators can provide access to office space, funding, mentorship, and a network of other entrepreneurs and investors, which can be critical for early-stage startups.

On the other hand, incubators may not be the right choice for every startup. For example, some entrepreneurs may prefer to work independently and have more control over the direction of their business, while others may not have the resources or time to commit to a structured program.

Now, as we've tackled some key areas to consider when choosing a startup incubator, how do you choose the right one? There are dozens of organizations today that specialize in startup incubation, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of choices.Now that we’ve tackled some of the key areas to consider when choosing a startup incubator, how do you go about choosing the right one? There are dozens of organisations today that specialise in startup incubation and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of choices. 

To help you arrive at an informed and well-rounded decision, we’ve gathered some of the top incubators today for you to compare and weigh your options. 

5 Best Startup Incubators from Around the Globe 

[https://unsplash.com/photos/rxpThOwuVgE


1. Y-Combinator, U.S.A.

Y Combinator | Comparing 10 Best Startup Incubators Around the Globe

Y-Combinator has a track record that many startup incubators envy. Since their establishment in 2005, they have funded 3,000 startups and have a combined valuation of over USD300 billion from their companies. 

Some startups that began their journey with Y-Combinator that are now globally renowned companies include Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe, Twitch, and many more—even Aspire’s founders are part of the extensive Y-Combinator alumni network. 

Although the selection process narrows down between 200 to 240 projects for each cycle, the Y-combinator journey continues beyond the incubator programmes through the YC alumni network.

Application link: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/

Application dates: Until 19 March 2021 (For June to August Cycle of the Summer 2021 Cohort)

Program duration: 3 months

Program location: Remote setup due to the COVID-19 situation

Funding: $125,000 in exchange for 7% equity

Best for: International startup teams looking to find product-market fit 

2. 500 Startups, U.S.A.

500 Startups | Comparing 10 Best Startup Incubators Around the Globe

Just like YC, this global venture capitalist also has a pretty reputable record of helping large-scale companies such as LinkedIn, Google, and Paypal. Established in 2010, 500 Startups have surpassed the 500-mark and funded over 2,400 companies over 75 countries in the last decade. 

Compared to most incubators that last for an extended period, 500 startups is a rapid programme that goes for four months with a large amount of seed funding.  In exchange for the high capital, the incubator would demand equity ownership of 5% and a participation fee of USD25,000. 

While these figures may seem hefty, you will have access to the ‘500 team’, comprising experienced investors and seasoned entrepreneurs, all of which are valuable connections in your startup journey. It’s like getting into the Harvard of the incubation market. 

Funding: $150,000 in exchange for 6% equity

Best for: Distribution-focused startups in any of their core investment themes such as commerce, education, marketing, financial services and payments, food tech, and SMB/B2B SaaS

500 Startups Programs that are open for applications:

1. San Francisco Accelerator Program

Application link: https://500.co/accelerators/san-francisco/apply

Application dates: 500 Startups accepts applications on a rolling admissions basis yearly

Program duration: 14 weeks

Program location: San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


2. Sanabil 500 MENA Seed Accelerator

Application link: https://ecosystems.500.co/sanabil500accelerator

Application dates: 21 February to 7 March 2021

Program duration: 3 months

Program location: Remote setup due to the COVID-19 situation


3. Global Launch Singapore

Application link: https://ecosystems.500.co/global-launch-sg

Application dates: 25 January to 26 February 2021 (Batch 3)

Program duration: 16 weeks

Program location: Singapore


3. AngelPad 

AngelPadComparing 10 Best Startup Incubators Around the Globe

AngelPad is no stranger to the game. Since 2015, they have been ranked as the Top U.S. Accelerator by MIT’s Seed Accelerator Benchmark, proving their well-deserved position in the industry. To add to their extensive track record, their portfolio companies have raised a total of USD1.8 billion to date with 10% of their companies with a valuation of over USD100 million. 

Their extensive alumni network of companies including Postmates, Buffer, and Pipedrive. 

Apart from seed money, successful AngelPad candidates can expect to work with knowledgeable mentors who can help build your network, and help position your startup to attract potential investors simultaneously during the training process. 

Application link: https://angelpad.com/

Application dates: The AngelPad accelerator program accepts applications on a rolling admission basis yearly

Program duration: 3 months

Program location: Remote setup due to the COVID-19 situation

Funding: At least USD100,000 in funding

Best for: Strong founding teams of early stage founders, instead of individuals

4. Startup Bootcamp 

Startup Bootcamp

Through industry-focused intensive programmes, Startupbootcamp supports early-stage founders scale their business by utilising their vast global network of more than 2,000 partners, mentors, investors, and alumni. 

During the selection process for each program, 10 companies will be shortlisted to take part in the 3-month acceleration program. From there, teams will be given several resources from free office space, extensive mentorship, all the way to funding. 

Funding: €15,000 in cash and €450,000 in partner service in exchange for 6-8% equity, depending on the programme

Best for: Various industries including Commerce, Fintech, Media, FoodTech, FashionTech, and more

Startup Bootcamp programs that are open for applications:

1. ASIP Accelerator Program

Application link: https://www.startupbootcamp.org/accelerator/afritech-asip/

Application dates: 24 March to 14 May

Program duration: 3 months

Program location: Cape Town, South Africa


2. Startupbootcamp Fintech Singapore

Application link: https://www.startupbootcamp.org/accelerator/fintech-singapore/

Application dates: The Startupbootcamp Fintech Singapore program accepts applications on a rolling admission basis yearly

Program duration: 3 months

Program location: Singapore

5. Plug and Play 

Plug and Play | Comparing 10 Best Startup Incubators Around the Globe

International startup incubator, Plug and Play have been connecting top corporations to promising startups since 2006 through industry-specific programmes. With their global headquarters strategically located in Silicon Valley, Owner and Chief Designer Saeed Amidi describes the firm as “Silicon Valley in a Box''. No matter where you are in the world, their programmes will provide you with a deeper look into the world’s leading technology hubs.

Each year, Plug and Play runs over 60 accelerator programs across major cities and industries. This includes sectors such as brand and retail, fintech, health, supply chain, energy, smart cities, and everything else in between. 

Application link: https://www.plugandplaytechcenter.com/join/

Application dates: Plug and Play accepts applications on a rolling admissions basis yearly

Program duration: 6 months

Program location: Singapore

Funding: USD25,000 to USD500,000

Best for: Startups with deep tech experiences and a B2C focus

5 Best Startup Incubators in Singapore

[https://unsplash.com/photos/eMLXhVgquq8


1. Antler 

Antler | Comparing 10 Best Startup Incubators in Singapore

Despite having only been in the industry since 2017, Antler has grown to become one of the most established and renowned startup builders in Singapore and across the globe. While they mainly operate on an early stage acceleration model, they function quite similarly to incubators. 

Antler invests in budding entrepreneurs by providing them with seed capital to meet funding needs, workshops and programmes to gain valuable business insights and extensive networks to find a co-founder for their startup. 

Last year, Antler launched the ‘COVID-19 Call’ initiative as an effort to support startups during the pandemic. They received overwhelming 1,500 applications from 100 countries across sectors related to remote health, digital tools, medical equipment to solve pandemic-related problems. Through this initiative, Antler has repositioned itself to be relevant and ever-ready in its commitment to supporting startups in the industry despite a global crisis. 

Application link: https://www.antler.co/apply/singapore

Application dates: Until May 2021

Program duration: 6 months

Funding: S$2,000 per month during Phase 1 of the program, followed by USD 100,000 in exchange for 10% equity for selected companies.

Best for: Startups from emerging sectors including health tech, fintech, proptech, robotics, and AI and first-time professionals who want to find a co-founder

2. Entrepreneur First 

Entrepreneur First |Antler | Comparing 10 Best Startup Incubators in Singapore

Founded in London in 2011, Entrepreneur First (EF) is a world-leading talent investor and platform for startup founders who are stuck in their search for a co-founder. What makes them special is how they focus on teams rather than individuals. 

To date, they have funded teams from all over the world and spearheaded a new model of company creation by bringing people from industry and academia together to develop their startups from the ground up.

Application link: https://www.joinef.com/apply-singapore/

Application dates: Until 11 April 2021

Program duration: 6 months

Funding: S$5,000/month in exchange for 10% equity

Best for: Technology startups and co-founder matching

3. Iterative 

Iterative | Antler | Comparing 10 Best Startup Incubators in Singapore

Iterative is a Singapore-based incubator focused solely on Southeast Asia. With a deep focus in our region, they aim to build a competitive network and supportive startup ecosystem in the region for early-stage founders. While the end goal of their programme is to guide startup founders throughout each stage and connect them to investors in Singapore and San Francisco, founders will be guided through three main stages: pitching, fundraising, and building your community. 

Through workshops, seminars, and various activities, they will be equipped with the skills on how to pitch their startup to potential investors, closing and negotiating deals, and building their community in their respective industries. 

Application link: https://iterative.vc/apply

Application dates: Not specified

Program duration: 3 months

Funding: US$150,000 in exchange for 15% equity

Best for: Early-stage founders gearing towards regional expansion in the Southeast Asia region

4. Techstars 

TechStarts | Antler | Comparing 10 Best Startup Incubators in Singapore

Compared to other firms in the market that launches a single incubator programme a few times a year, Techstars provides multiple mentorship-driven accelerator programs across various sectors. This US-based incubator supports every stage of the startup journey —from early-stage development, funding, acceleration, and beyond. 

In 2019, ship management company Eastern Pacific (EPS) partnered with TechStars to launch the world’s first global MaritimeTech accelerator program, which focuses on innovations and developments in the maritime industry. This is also the first Singapore-based Techstars program. Entrepreneurs who are interested in making a change in the maritime industry through technology-related regulations to digitalisation are encouraged to apply for the programme. 

Funding: Varies depending on the specific programme

Best for: Tech entrepreneurs looking for networking and mentoring opportunities

Techstars programs that are open for applications:

1. The Roux Institute Techstars Accelerator

Application link: https://www.techstars.com/accelerators/the-roux-institute

Application dates: 22 February to 12 May 2021

Program duration: 4 months

Program location: Portland, Maine, U.S.A.

2. Colliers Proptech Accelerator Powered by Techstars

Application link: https://www.techstars.com/accelerators/colliers-proptech

Application dates: 10 May to 28 July 2021

Program duration: 3 months

Program location: Toronto, Canada


3. Techstars Future of Longevity Accelerator

Application link: https://www.techstars.com/accelerators/longevity

Application dates: 10 May to 28 July 2021

Program duration: 3 months

Program location: Washington D.C., U.S.A.


4. Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator

Application link: https://www.techstars.com/accelerators/workforce-development

Application dates: 10 May to 28 July 2021

Program duration: 3 months

Program location: Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.

5. Startup-O 

Startup-O | Antler | Comparing 10 Best Startup Incubators in Singapore

Startup-O is an award-winning platform for startup assessments, investments and venture scaling networks in Southeast Asia, which was made for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. Unlike most incubator programs, they use a proprietary process that combines decision algorithms with domain experts to discover budding startups.

Currently, they offer two programmes for entrepreneurs: the Fasttrack Program and the First Stop Program. The Fasttrack Program operates on an accelerator model, which funds growth-stage startups with full-time founders, looking to expand their business and global networks. On the other hand, the First

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marissa Saini is a seasoned writer and an avid trendspotter across business finance, personal finance, travel and lifestyle industries. With writing history at SingSaver, INK, and ohmyhome, Marissa leverages her broad range of experiences to simplify finance and make readers financially savvy.
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Aspire is the all-in-one finance operating system for businesses. Our mission is to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs with the financial tools they need to realise their company’s full potential.
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