Finding hardware accelerators to support your hardware startup had become extremely difficult during the pandemic. However, finding financial and development support is crucial for the success of early-stage hardware startups. Remote and virtual events are harder to pull off when you are working with physical products, but that hasn't stopped many organizations from moving their events and accelerators online.
In the below list we are sharing online hardware accelerators, hackathons, and challenges where you can find team members, funding, and inspiration for your projects.
A startup accelerator is an organization that provides mentorship, investment, and connection opportunities for seed-stage startups to rapidly scale their growth. An accelerator program usually runs for around 3 months and is finalized at a demo day or pitch events.
THRIVE accelerator, invested by SVG Ventures, provides the platform for seed-stage startups innovating on agricultural technologies to grow. The program is run from March to June 2022 and is eligible for anyone around the world to join either virtually or in person.
Y Combinator is one of the biggest investors for early-stage tech startups. They also have their own accelerator program, which is conducted remotely since 2005. The program runs twice a year: Winter and Summer, for 3 months each time.
MedTech Innovator hosts their accelerator program for two regions: the US and the Asia Pacific. It’s the largest medical technology accelerator in the world, supporting startups since 2015. The program runs for 3 months, from June to September 2022.
Hackathons are events where individuals or groups of innovators gather to compete by creating working software or hardware at the end of a 48-hour sprint. The event usually requires a pre-registration, where the theme of each competition will be decided before by the organization holding it.
TIBCO LABS IoT and Sustainability Hack supports IoT and sustainability innovations. They allow individual and group (at most 5 people) applications. The competition provides prizes ranging from USD 1.000~USD 10.000.
Hack the North is the hackathon following Gear Up - a pre-hackathon that provides workshops, career sessions, and tech talks. Hack The North itself is Canada’s biggest hackathon. It runs for 36 hours (3 x 12 h) and has gathered more than 3000 students globally to compete for the prize.
HackMIT is another hackathon for students that was hosted online last year. The program gives students across the world access to gather in the MIT campus or online to solve technological problems about healthcare, community, education, and sustainability.
Challenges, on the other hand, are competitions open for submission according to the said category, industry, or problem. They are usually hosted by an organization or through the website hackster.io and provide prizes for the winning solution after the stated deadline. Mentoring is very unlikely in challenges, but their corresponding hackathon and/or accelerator might be able to provide.
Alphalab Gear’s Hardware Cup is one of the most awaited hardware challenges throughout the year in the US. In 2021, it runs completely online, but in previous years, the competition has done a tour to 6 states across the US. The competition focuses on AI/robotics, life sciences, cleantech, consumer products, smart home/connected devices, and smart cities.
The Extreme Tech Challenge is a new competition in the tech industry for startups and individuals to innovate. The program is supported by big companies like Cisco, ARM, and ADI (Analog Devices, Inc.).
Bosch held the IoT Innovation Challenge to encourage the use of sensors in IoT systems for consumer electronics, smart environments, and many more. The program runs virtually for participants across Europe and provided prizes up to 1,500 Euros for the winners.
The China-US Young Maker Competition is open for students across China and the US, to compete for the best hardware solution for a given problem. The participating judges are from well-known companies such as Google and Hackster. The competition itself had run from 2014 and had provided gift cards and components such as Google Pixelbook and Google Coral Dev Board for the winners.
Supplyframe Designlab’s Hackaday Prize is a hardware design competition with 5 types of challenges. You could register for a mentor session anywhere across the globe. The prize they give is ranging from $500 up to $25,000.
Mouser, a well-known hardware company, had collaborated with Intel and ADI (Analog Devices, Inc.) to hold the Create the Future Design Contest. The participants range from students to engineers, from 55 different countries to join the contest in Aerospace & Defense, Automotive & Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics & Sensors & IoT, Machinery & Automation & Robotics, Medical, and Sustainable Technologies.
ST Industrial Innovator Challenge is applicable for early-stage tech startups to design Industry 4.0 applications. The challenge, powered by STMicroelectronics, is a part of its Innovation World Cup Series. It judges the submissions in terms of its degree of innovation, commercial potential, technological feasibility, marketing approach, time to market, solution´s sustainability, and required investment.
Another competition by the Innovation World Cup is the EBV Innovation Hero Award, supported by STMicroelectronics and EBV Elektronik. Other than a 10,000 euro cash prize, the competition also provides the winner with an opportunity to be a speaker at global leading events, media exposure, and marketing packages.
Helium, with Arm, Semtech, and STMicroelectronics establish a competition for IoT innovations. The competition rewards winners with cash prizes, Helium data credits, and Helium hotspot.
Posted by Nadya Lukman
Nadya is a Mechatronics Engineer who had worked on several different projects including PCU design, engine design, and AI image processing systems. Besides having a little bit of caffeine addiction, she enjoys reading and traveling to new places.