Startup Accelerators

Image courtesy of potowizard /

Image courtesy of potowizard /

An accelerator is a program, normally lasting a few months, designed to help startups grow rapidly. Accelerator programs typically provide startups with some combination of business education, mentoring, office space and funding, often, but not always, in exchange for stock in the startup.

Some of the more well-known accelerator programs in Wisconsin and Illinois are listed below:


Catapult Chicago – Part incubator, part accelerator, Catapult is in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.

The Founder Institute – Startup accelerator, with a mission to “Globalize Silicon Valley” and help founders build enduring technology companies. Through its part-time entrepreneur training program, entrepreneurs can launch a company with guidance and feedback and still keep their day jobs.

Health Box – The entrepreneurs selected to participate in one of Health Box’s 16-week programs receive structured, customized support designed to address the challenges unique to starting a business in healthcare.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Impact Engine – A 16-week accelerator program that supports for-profit businesses addressing today’s societal and environmental challenges. The goal of Impact Engine is to empower entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors to make a collective impact on society by applying smart business principles to the world’s greatest problems.

TechStars Chicago – Provides seed funding from over 75 top venture capital firms and angel investors.  Focuses on technology, Internet, software, mobile, gaming, eCommerce, SaaS, physical devices, web-based, hardware and cloud.


Gener8tor – Accelerator program with two locations in Wisconsin (Madison and Milwaukee), Gener8tor focuses on software, IT, web, SaaS and hardware. In exchange for equity, startups accepted into the Gener8tor program receive funding, 12 weeks of mentor-driven programming. access to support staff and office space.

The Brew – A 6-month, mentor-driven seed accelerator program  focused on startups that address global challenges in freshwater.  Program participants receive a grant of $50,000, low-cost office space in the Global Water Center (in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood), low-cost housing, access to a flow lab and wet lab space and other perks..

Madcelerator, LLC – Located in Madison, Wisconsin, Madcelerator works directly with entrepreneurs, offering extensive management skills, in addition to sourcing working capital to grow a business.

Scale Up Milwaukee – Greater Milwaukee Committee-managed project to develop Milwaukee’s entrepreneurial capacity on a model developed by Babson College-affiliated scholar and consultant, Daniel Isenberg.  Operates the “Scalerator,” a two-month training program for entrepreneurs.