Ben Jones of AberInnovation offers some ideas for farmers looking to accelerate their business

Business accelerators usually provide developing companies with access to advice, mentorship, training, investors etc – and farmers can benefit from them too.

The aim is to help them become stable, self-sufficient businesses. An accelerator programme can be useful from the initial ‘lightbulb’ moment, to the stage when a business needs to scale up or attract investors.

Some programmes are free, while others can be expensive to join. So, if identify a business accelerator that is right for your farming/agri-tech/food or drink sector idea what benefits can you acquire?

Evaluation of your idea

You may have a great idea, but of course, not every idea can become a successful business. In reality, most ideas for new products and services struggle to get off the ground.

Being selected to take part in the right accelerator programme gives you a chance to validate your idea. Is there a market for your product? Do the financials stack up? Do the costs involved in the development and/or manufacture make it a viable proposition? Is it investable?

When we’ve had an idea for a while, it’s natural to become emotionally invested. In an accelerator programme the mentorship and expertise will help you to make a clear-headed and dispassionate evaluation of the viability of your idea.

A good programme will help you make adjustments and course-corrections that may be required - saving you from wasting huge amounts of time.

Extensive expert support

Often budding entrepreneurs who end up on accelerators don’t come from business backgrounds. Accelerator programmes will address participants’ knowledge gaps (not to mention offering plenty of reassurance and emotional support!) by providing mentors, success stories and subject experts to equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to get your idea off the ground.

The valuable experience and hard-won advice shared by successful entrepreneurs can be lightning in a bottle for fledgling founders. Many programmes, such as BioAccelerate 2020, set aside time in their schedules to invite founders and directors in relevant fields to offer their wisdom and to share their journeys with the cohort.

Understand what investors need and present to them

Unless you’re fortunate enough to be in line to inherit the family fortune, you’re probably going to need investment at some stage to grow your company and to bring your product or service to market.

Accelerator programmes invariably end with some sort of pitch or demo day, where you’ll demonstrate the progress you’ve made over the course of the programme to a panel of industry experts and potential investors. Learning how to present to these types of audiences will be vital in securing funding at the various stages of your startup’s journey.

Access to facilities

Not all programmes are alike though there are overlaps and similarities. Most will teach participants about core topics e.g. finance, intellectual properly, branding, product development. However, some programmes go further.

Sector-specific programmes, and ones that are aligned to universities or innovation parks, can often also provide access to cutting-edge facilities and equipment, plus the pre-eminent expertise that you would expect at an academic institution.

For example, the BioAccelerate programme offered at AberInnovation gives startups in the biotechnology, agri-tech and food and drink sectors access to their brand-new £40.5m campus, which includes a state-of-the-art biorefinery and a Future Food Centre.

Support from your cohort

Developing a new product or service can be lonely. To keep up morale and motivation, it’s important to find a welcoming and supportive group of peers on similar journeys.

A supportive group to bounce ideas off and provide feedback will help you navigate these challenging times when you may have doubts.

In an increasingly interdisciplinary world where problems often require a multitude of solutions, these bonds may even lead to fruitful opportunities in the future.

If you’re ready to put in the work to develop a new business, it is worth doing some research to find a business accelerator programme that suits your sector and gain the support and long-term benefits.

About the author

Ben Jones is from AberInnovation which provides world-leading facilities and expertise within the biotechnology, agri-tech, and food and drink sectors. Set in stunning scenery between the Cambrian Mountains and the Irish Sea, the £40.5m Aberystwyth Innovation and Enterprise Campus offers an ideal environment for business and academic collaboration to flourish.

Find out more at or AberInnovation's Facebook page