How to choose a deep technology startup program

Many founders have to make a difficult decision at the beginning of their journey: where to open a store.

For deep tech founders, the decision is complicated by the fact that they usually need more than their space. Some might need lab benches, others might need massive amounts of electricity, and still others might need space for large equipment. It’s not as simple as signing up for a desk in a nearby coworking space.

In the past, deep tech founders often had to go it alone; there wasn’t much help as they migrated from their academic labs to the startup world. Today, however, there are plenty of options, including Engine acceleratorSOSVs Hax and IndieBio programs, i Regional drivers of innovation recently published by the National Science Foundation.

Founders no longer have to do everything themselves. Instead, the challenge is to figure out which launcher will work best.

Emily Knightpresident of The Engine Accelerator, spoke at TechCrunch early stage in Boston on how founders should evaluate their options.

The first thing they should look for is an organization that has «patient resources and patient capital,» she said. Given that deep technology typically takes a long time to de-risk and bring to market, timelines tend to be longer.

After that, «early startups had to ask the question, if the technology works, and let’s say it does, what else do we have to think about?» Knight said. «You need to make a short prioritized list of what you need today.»

That list will include funding, but also equipment to develop technology and expertise to help solve problems and manage regulatory landscapes.

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Once the founders have compiled the list, they can then start evaluating the startup programs. «Which of these accelerators or programs or fellowships or coworking spaces—whatever they are—have the resources you need?» Knight said.

At The Engine, Knight said they are focused not only on providing space and equipment, but also on supporting founders who are often on the long journey. “We’re creating a community for founders, for people doing something that can feel very lonely, which is usually the first of its kind. They probably don’t have many peers.”

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