The Central Research Laboratory Accelerator formula for success

The Central Research Laboratory Accelerator success formula is crafted by experts and specialists. It encompasses intensive mentorship, access to an award-winning workspace, a focus on customer discovery and investment readiness, engineer support, a trip to China and a £5,000 grant towards testing and product development costs.

The UK’s leading hardware accelerator at the Central Research Laboratory has been supporting startups to thrive since 2015. With cohort 7 graduated and making their way in the world, the programme is now seeking to recruit startups creating unique innovations impacting everyday life.  

The CRL accelerator programme has supported a range of successful award-winning new businesses that have raised a combined £10m+ investment over the past few years. Notable alumni include, Aceleron, creating sustainable lithium batteries, who were amongst the top 10 shortlisted for the 2019 Telegraph Tech 4 Good Pioneers. CosiCare, a female-led tech startup focused on alleviating the symptoms of Eczema and winning the 2019 Mayor of London’s Award for Innovation, Tata Varsity Pitch 2019 and Santander Entrepreneur of the Year 2019. And Chip[s]Board, a company creating bioplastics for the design sector globally. 

The Central Research Laboratory Accelerator success formula is crafted by experts and specialists. It encompasses intensive mentorship, access to an award-winning workspace, a focus on customer discovery and investment readiness, engineer support, a trip to China and a £5,000 grant towards testing and product development costs. 

A team of experts at CRL will be helping to guide and support the 8th cohort, including CRL Programmes Director, Toby Kress, Accelerator Programme Manager, Anneza Pitsialis, and Product Development Director, Jim Reeves. 

The cohort receives hands-on product development support from the in-house CRL engineers and product design team. With a particular focus on manufacturing, such as getting your product manufactured at the right cost and setting up supply chains for scale. 

“Having so many experts in their fields, giving attention to your hardware development really helped us to progress our design. We got a lot of support in making our product more DFMA (designed for manufacture assembly) to make it a more viable and profitable product.” 

– Eli Heath, Co-Founder of Enayball and The Soapstone and cohort 7 alumni

“Product development was the key thing. When we came to CRL, really, we had an engineering product in the sense that, you know, it was all about engineering and reliability. Whereas CRL really helped in developing the perspective of the product with usability and product design. Which made a massive difference when we came to the next phase of the commercialisation of the product.”

Melissa, Founder of WarnerPatch and cohort 7 alumni 

Beyond product development, the programme utilises experts from diverse fields to focus on core areas such as investment readiness, commercial strategy, and customer discovery. Mentors help the cohort understand what their customers want and what value their product brings, and paths to successful revenue models and sales strategies. Mentors also support the cohort in gaining hardware-specific funding from grants and crowdfunding to angel investors and venture capital. 

“I’m still working with a lot of the people that we met, in terms of the advisors, so everything from digital marketing, to brand, to finance to legal, it really helped. I can’t think of an area of our business that we didn’t meet someone who’s helped us grow in some aspect. And that’s from a kind of full 360 business growth perspective. So, I think that’s a wicked thing – the network and the experts that you get to meet.”

­Lottie, Co-Founder of Myomaster and cohort 7 alumni 

“When they say the word “accelerator”, it is literally accelerated learning to the max. I learnt a lot more in my time on the accelerator than in three years at university. You’re learning marketing, branding, product development… the learning is angled from everywhere. Having access to experts has been invaluable. You can just message someone and ask: “can you help with our online advertising, branding campaigns” and they’ll give you 15 minutes of time because they know you’re from CRL. Having those connections has been amazing.” 

Liam, Co-Founder of Stix Mindfulness

The Central Research Laboratory is proud to have won the West London Business Award for best coworking space and accelerator for the fourth time. The workspace is a thriving entrepreneur community featuring desk space, meeting rooms, specialist workshops, prototyping facilities, and collaborative spaces. The cohort receives 24/7 access to this space for the duration of their time on the programme to work alongside other cohort members and a network of product startups and specialists. 

“It’s amazing to continue successfully supporting product makers and hardware pioneers and reflecting on the achievements of our diverse cohort members over the past few years makes me very proud. Our accelerator programme is truly unique, offering over six months of intense support blending product design expertise, customer research, manufacturing and market understanding. We look forward to meeting the next cohort, which we’re sure will be another exciting collective of talent who are working to creating amazing innovations impacting everyday life.”

Toby Kress, Programmes Director

The programme runs in two phases, with the first phase focusing on customer discovery, and no more than twenty startups will be selected to join the stage. Six startups will then receive an invitation to join phase two, focusing on product development, commercial and fundraising strategy. 

The second phase features a trip to Shenzhen to gain an insight into the manufacturing process, Investor Day for the opportunity to receive feedback from potential investors, and Demo Day, an end of programme opportunity to showcase their product to a network of potential customers, commercial partners and investors. You can watch Demo Day 2020 here

So, what do you need to apply for the UK’s leading hardware accelerator at the Central Research Laboratory? 

  • A Prototype (it doesn’t have to be pretty)
  • Technical knowledge relevant to your hardware development
  • Desire to build a scalable product-based business
  • A product or business model displaying genuine innovation
  • Two or more team members are desirable but not essential
  • Ability to attend the programme (The programme requires a full-time commitment. On average, you will be onsite 2-days p/week with progress made in between)
  • Business registered in the UK

You can find out more about the programme here, and you can apply here

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