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Submit your application to the Acceleration and Pre-Acceleration programs.
Applications are open to anyone (it is not necessary to be a Bocconi student or alumnus/a) anywhere.

Deadline: June 23, 2024.

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May 16, 2024

The bridge to Innovation starts from Universities

Celebrating 936 years since the establishment of the first university as we know it today, we can affirmatively say that these institutions have successfully stood the test of time in educating generations of citizens and professionals alike.

Universities have long served as crucial bridges between the realms of education and employment. As the demand for knowledge and specialized skills in various sectors increases, these academic institutions have become indispensable reservoirs of talent for companies and other organizations. In today's innovation ecosystem, universities are no longer just centers for learning but are increasingly acting as hotbeds of entrepreneurship.

The Role of Acceleration and Pre-acceleration Programs

Acceleration and pre-acceleration programs linked to universities play a vital role in bridging academic theory and entrepreneurial practice for three main reasons:

  • They bring solutions, services, and products developed in classrooms and labs to the market.

  • They create employment opportunities in developing or restructuring sectors.

  • They support students and recent graduates in their first entrepreneurial experiences by providing unique tools and opportunities.

What Are Acceleration and Pre-acceleration Programs?

Acceleration and pre-acceleration programs are intensive initiatives that help founders or groups of students and professionals rapidly grow their startups or business ideas. These programs offer resources such as seed capital, mentorship, workspace, and access to investor networks. Unlike traditional incubation programs, acceleration and pre-acceleration programs are usually shorter, more intense, and often culminate in a "Demo Day," where startups pitch their ideas to potential investors.

Bocconi for Innovation’s Pathways

At Bocconi for Innovation, we offer two distinct paths that allow founders and aspiring founders to establish solid foundations and grow their businesses. Both B4i programs, the Acceleration and Pre-Acceleration, support early-stage entrepreneurs or aspiring founders by providing mentorship, access to networks, and resources from Bocconi. The four-month Acceleration Program includes a €50K investment and tailored professional support, while the three-month Pre-Acceleration Program offers flexible, comprehensive guidance to validate and advance business ideas.

Moreover, the X Startup Call for Acceleration and Pre-Acceleration programs has just opened! If you want to submit your startup or present your business idea, learn more and submit your application here.

Entrepreneurial World and Universities: Successful Initiatives and Programs

In Italy, Europe, and the rest of the world, similar initiatives are on the rise and are proving effective in granting students and recent graduates privileged access to the world of entrepreneurship. Between acceleration and pre-acceleration programs and challenges that involve students in creating innovative business ideas, let's look at some successful examples.

University Startup Challenge: an opportunity for students in Italy

The University Startup Challenge (USC) is an initiative promoted by the Entrepreneurship Clubs of city universities, associations of student entrepreneurs whose mission is to spread entrepreneurial culture, create growth and training opportunities for students, and foster a network of talents among universities, both locally and internationally. The USC is open to all students from Milanese universities: Bocconi, Politecnico, Statale, Cattolica, and Bicocca. Each year, individuals who register for the USC, either in groups or individually, are divided into teams of four or six. The goal is to create an innovative startup idea that addresses the problem posed by the initiative's partners. Prizes include mentorship sessions, courses with top-level professionals on topics such as pitching, value proposition validation, marketing personas, legal framework, funding, or the possibility to access the pre-acceleration or acceleration programs of the universities supporting the initiative, including ours.

A Look at Acceleration Programs in Europe and America

Now let’s take a look at the rest of Europe beginning with Germany. EWOR stands out for its offerings of pre-acceleration and acceleration programs that support entrepreneurs from the pre-idea phase. Through an innovative approach that includes mentorship, access to capital, and a vast network of professional contacts, EWOR helps transform embryonic ideas into successful businesses. The program is particularly known for its commitment to not only business development but also the personal growth of entrepreneurs, facilitating a complete journey from the search for a business idea to market landing.

Remaining in Germany but moving to the University of Stuttgart, we find STARTUP AUTOBAHN, a program that unites the forces of academic innovation with those of heavy industry. During the six months of acceleration, startups work closely with industry giants to test and refine their technologies in real environments. The program not only accelerates startup growth but also facilitates strategic partnerships and knowledge exchanges, promoting a more innovative and interconnected future for the mobility and production sectors.

Further north, particularly in Denmark, students and innovators can turn to Copenhagen Business School, one of the country's most prestigious academic institutions, which has launched the Go Grow program to nurture green entrepreneurship among young innovators. This seven-month accelerator supports students and recent graduates with sustainability-oriented ideas. Go Grow not only provides a resource-rich environment and mentorship but also integrates the academic approach with real-world investor and industry professional meetings. The unique feature of this interesting program is its commitment to creating a new generation of entrepreneurs aware of global environmental challenges with high-impact solutions (as long as they are not on the environment).

In Southern Europe, we find the eWorks Accelerator program at ESADE Business School, a vibrant center of innovation located in the heart of Barcelona, a city known for its entrepreneurial spirit. Each year, eWorks selects high-potential ideas and turns them into successful projects through a year-long program. Entrepreneurs receive comprehensive support, from defining the business model to seeking funding, benefiting from an extensive network of alumni and prominent professionals. ESADE distinguishes itself by combining academic excellence with a passion for innovation, making its accelerator an ideal launchpad for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Finally, across the ocean in California, UC Berkeley’sBerkeley SkyDeck” stands out not just as an accelerator but as an innovation catalyst. Specializing in biotech and semiconductor startups, it provides significant funding, access to cutting-edge research labs, and a rich network of mentors and investors. SkyDeck accelerates business growth and connects entrepreneurs with Silicon Valley's vast ecosystem, offering the necessary resources for rapid and effective scaling.


Creating successful environments, initiatives, and programs within or in synergy with universities is vital for helping students and recent graduates enter the world of entrepreneurship equipped with all the necessary tools for success. These programs continue the education that students receive, ensuring that the seeds of ideas planted in academic settings blossom into enterprises that strengthen and enhance the broader ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation worldwide.