Should accelerators move to an online model?

  • Duarte Perloiro Corte-Real Cruz (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Due to COVID-19, accelerators’ program managers face the complex transition from face-to-face programs to a digital setting. Although some research has been done on understanding accelerators as an incubation mechanism, there is a gap about what differentiates virtual accelerators and how it affects entrepreneurial learning. This study aims to determine how founders' learning experience is transformed in a virtual model and the significant benefits and challenges of online-based accelerators.A multiple case study with semi-structured interviews was done with program managers and founders based on a literature review on accelerators, entrepreneurial learning, and virtual teams.Analysis of the responses demonstrated an existing trade-off with regard to virtual accelerators. On the one hand, the accelerator performance is enhanced, as it allows scalable, cost-efficiency and specialized programs. On the other, founder performance is affected, since cohorts find it challenging to establish a social connection and engage in networking and constructive feedback, mainly due to virtual communication constraints. However, founders reported higher learning satisfaction concerning training provided by the accelerator.The results indicate that transitioning face-to-face programs to a virtual setting implies many careful considerations. How can program managers use the virtual world's benefits without losing the valuable features of face-to-face interaction? One possible way is to offer hybrid accelerators. Further research is needed to evaluate the virtual format, especially its defining characteristics and impact on the founders' learning experience and venture outcomes.
Date of Award25 Jan 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorCláudia Isabel de Sousa Costa (Supervisor)


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Accelerators
  • Entrepreneurial learning
  • Virtual environments
  • Startup
  • Cohorts
  • Training


  • Mestrado em Gestão

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