The Norrsken Accelerator is the world’s leading accelerator for impact startups.
Every year, we hand-pick 20 of the world’s most promising early-stage impact startups, sourced from thousands of applications. We invite them to an intense 8-week sprint at Norrsken House in Stockholm, Sweden, designed to scale their growth and impact world-wide.
We target pre-seed to early-seed startups that leverage technology for innovative solutions to new and old societal and environmental challenges. We are sector agnostic and work with startups in any area of impact.
We'll invest $125k in return for 7% of your company using a “post-money” simple agreement for future equity (the “YC Safe”) or equivalent. The accelerator program culminates in an Investor day, where we invite startups to pitch for 100+ investors and potential customers and partners.
We work with unicorn founders, world-class entrepreneurs, top investors, industry experts and corporate partners from across the global Norrsken ecosystem.
The Norrsken Accelerator is founded and backed by the Norrsken Foundation. We believe that entrepreneurs building rapidly scalable businesses are our best bet at solving some of the hardest and biggest problems in the world. Our mission is to support them on every step of that journey. We do that by connecting founders with capital, knowledge and a global network of exceptional individuals and organisations.
Aside from the Norrsken Accelerator, we run award-winning Norrsken House co-working spaces in Stockholm, Sweden, Kigali, Rwanda and Barcelona, Spain. We incubated Norrsken VC - a $130 million impact VC fund investing in the best entrepreneurs that solve global challenges using technology, and Norrsken22, a $200 million growth fund backing exceptional entrepreneurs building Africa’s new tech unicorns. Today, the Norrsken ecosystem comprises 1000s of founders, investors and partners, and we’ve invested in nearly 100 impact companies worldwide. You can read more about the Norrsken ecosystem here.
Our goal is to enable impact unicorns - companies whose work positively impact one billion people.
• We’ll start off by investing $125k in your company.
• You’ll then join us for an 8 week sprint at Norrsken House in Stockholm. During this time you’ll have 24/7 access to a workspace designed with tech and impact entrepreneurs in mind. We’ll work with you to tailor-make a program and set up 1-1 sessions with relevant mentors and experts, all designed to help you scale and grow your impact and business.
• Finally, you'll pitch to an audience of hundreds of investors, potential partners and clients at Norrsken Investor Day.
• We’ll host a final celebration at the end of the program, but it’s not goodbye. We’ll continue to support you as a platform for peer advice and feedback, investor and partner connections.
We invest across all UN SDGs, but we demand that your impact is intentional. We are sector agnostic, and impact sector agnostic. We focus on finding the most promising startups within various sectors and helping them to scale. As long as you’re using technology and you’re solving a big societal or environmental problem, we’d love to hear from you.
2. Business model & Technology
We don’t have any preference when it comes to business model but we demand that your impact is intentional. We are looking for companies where positive impact is an integral and non-negotiable part of the business model, so that as your business grows, your impact automatically scales with it.
Beyond that, what’s most important to us is that your company has the potential to scale, and that it aims to leverage technology to do so quickly.
Because of the terms of our investment, we’re ideally suited to supporting companies at an early (pre-seed) stage. This means that you’ve identified a clear market opportunity and path to market with your product. You’ve also gone beyond the idea-stage and have something to show - you’ve probably built or are currently building an MVP. However, we are happy to support startups who have made more progress than that, and help fast-track your success from the starting point that makes most sense to you.
We accept applications from anywhere in the world. The 8 week sprint takes place in Stockholm during the (European) summer. Remote participation is not recommended and something we want to avoid.
We invest on standard deal terms: $125k in return for 7% of your company using a “post-money” Simple Agreement for Future Equity (the “YC Safe”) or equivalent.
Yes, up to 20 startups that are selected will receive an upfront investment of $125,000 in exchange for 7% equity. These investment terms are fixed.
No. We don’t do follow-on investments for two reasons:
1. We want to give you full control over your cap table and allow you to choose who invests in your company and how much equity they take.
2. If we were to do follow-on investments, we’d only be able to follow-on in a handful of companies from each batch. We don’t want to affect the ability of any of our portfolio companies to raise future rounds by a negative signalling effect. We’d rather avoid this altogether for the time being.
We are sector agnostic, and impact sector agnostic. We focus on finding the most promising startups within various sectors and helping them to scale. As long as you’re using technology and you’re solving a big societal or environmental problem, we’d love to hear from you.
Yes, we love supporting impact across all verticals and do not limit the type of solutions we are looking for. It is true that hardware solutions can take longer to develop and scale than software solutions. However, if you’re a great team working hard on a solution that can change the world, you should apply.
No, we won’t sign NDAs, but will informally commit to confidentiality. It’s typical for investors not to sign NDAs to enable us to consider every startup that applies and to roll out investments quickly.
Yes. As long as you’re not working on identical products, we’re happy to support startups working in the same sector.
No, the Norrsken Accelerator is for for-profit companies driving positive impact through their business. NGOs and NPOs are incredibly important in driving societal and environmental change. But for this accelerator, we focus on for-profit impact startups.
Yes. As long as you’re happy with our investment terms, we’re happy to hear from you regardless if you have investments from elsewhere or not.
Yes. We’d rather fund teams than single co-founders, because we think your chances of success are greater with co-founders, but we’ll still consider strong individual founders.
Yes, you are welcome to submit more than one application, as long as each solution fits the criteria we are looking for.
No. Besides funding, we think there’s a lot of value in joining the program. And by investing in your company, we fully align our incentives to help you succeed and scale.
Yes. Especially if you’ve been through a venture-building program, you’ll be at the right stage to join us. If you’ve been through another program and are at a slightly later stage, we’ll aim to fast-track your progress from your specific starting point.
Yes! As long as you’ve gone beyond just the idea and have something to show, you’re the right stage for us, and we’re happy to support startups that have made more progress. However, we will take into account how long you’ve been working on your startup relative to your traction and how far you’ve come. So if you’ve been working on your startup for a long time and have little to show for it, prepare to explain why that has been the case.
Apply by filling in the application form (you’ll find it on norrsken.org/accelerator). Once you’ve submitted your application, expect to hear back from us within 3 weeks. We process applications on an ongoing basis so the sooner you apply, the better your chances of getting in.
Applications received before the end of April 2023 will be considered for the 2023 summer cohort, those received after will be considered for the next cohort.
If your application is successful, you will then be invited to a short first interview with us.
The teams that are accepted will receive an offer from us by May 15th at the latest.
It shouldn’t take you longer than 15 to 20 minutes (yes, we’ve timed it), assuming that you’ve prepared the necessary material (e.g. your pitch deck) in advance.
Yes, you’ll see a world limit on individual questions. It’s not there as a guideline, just as a maximum. If in doubt, less is more. Keep your answers plain, simple and to the point, and avoid industry jargon, and we’ll be happy.
No, there’s no program fee. We’re covering the cost of the program because we want you to be able to use the investment to directly cover the costs required to launch or grow your business. We think this investment should give you a runway for around 6 months, by which time you should be able to secure your next investment round with our support.
$125k UPFRONT INVESTMENT
Upfront investment of $125k. There’s no fee for the program so you keep the full amount.
UNICORN FOUNDER MENTORS
We don’t believe in a fixed curriculum - it wastes time and won’t fit everyone. Instead, we tailor make a program to suit your needs, with mentorship from founders who have built world-class companies and faced the same challenges as you.
Receive warm introductions to the right investors, during and after the program, with our support along the way. Pitch to them directly at Investor Day.
A GLOBAL NETWORK
Become part of the global Norrsken ecosystem, connecting 1000s of impact founders, investors, mentors and partners worldwide.
We tailor founder-mentor pairings to suit your needs and wants. You will be given the opportunity to request mentors from our mentor pool and mentors will be given a choice of startups to work with within the area of their expertise. You’ll then be matched with multiple mentors who can help you to grow.
Yes. And no. Every startup who joins us will have a few dedicated mentors during the time they are with us. Some of these are unicorn founders, others are founders of currently fast-growing startups. Some are experienced entrepreneurs who are now working in investing and advisory capacities. Others are active in their companies today. They all bring different things to the table. You might be matched with a unicorn founder for a 1:1 session, or get to ask your questions during one or several Ask Me Anything sessions.
We wrap up the program with the annual Norrsken Investor Day. where you’ll meet potential investors, partners and clients. And of course, we’ll make time for one epic final celebration.
After the program you’ll become part of our alumni network. We’ll keep in pretty close touch with you over the next few months and support you if you plan to raise capital during that time. You’ll remain a Norrsken House member for life, with access to all our hubs across the globe and a global network of peers, fellow alumni, future Accelerator participants, mentors and advisors at your fingertips. You’ll also be invited to alumni gatherings, Norrsken events and happenings on a regular basis.
One week at the end of the program is dedicated to introductions ahead of Investor Day and afterwards. We’ll help with warm introductions to investors outside of this setting too. Before Investor Day, we’ll work together on your pitch and provide advice and honest feedback, from mentors, co-founders and pitch coaches.
No, we really do want you to join us in Stockholm. We think that being in the same place for 8 weeks and interacting with your peers is essential to create the atmosphere needed to power your sprint. It could be one of those quick questions to your peers by the coffee machine or late nights at the “office” that makes all the difference. That’s why we’re bringing you to Stockholm for the summer rather than doing this virtually. However, you are allowed to rotate the founders who are in Stockholm during this period if necessary.
We ask you to cover the costs of transport and living during the 8-week sprint. From our side, we’ll make sure that you receive the $125k investment ahead of the program, so you can use it to cover travel and accommodation costs if necessary. Our accommodation partner will help lower these costs by providing entrepreneurs in our program with a large discount on accommodation.
We’ll help you apply for visas if needed.
The official language that will be used in the accelerator is English.
Fantastic! If you want to become a mentor or help advise the startups please reach out to email@example.com and please share some details about yourself, your background and interests.
Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We won’t be able to respond to requests for updates on ongoing applications or connect on calls, but we’ll do our very best to get back to you on other matters.
Alternatively, you can join any of our open Ask-Me-Anything sessions. Sign up on norrsken.org/accelerator to be notified of these.
We don’t believe a fixed curriculum works - it’s too general and wastes precious time. Instead, we’ll tailor-make a program to ensure you get the advice you need. Almost all of the content throughout the sprint is optional, you choose what brings value to your company.
1:1s WITH MENTORS & ADVISORS
Building a startup is hard. But, it’s a little easier if you get to bounce ideas with and get advice from experienced, successful entrepreneurs. You’ll be matched with several mentors and advisors during the accelerator. We want to make sure that if you don’t find chemistry with a mentor or an advisor, you will not be stuck with them. You’ll get advice, feedback, pitch training, connections and total honesty from the people you’ll meet and work with.
PEER FEEDBACK SESSIONS
Advice and feedback from your peers can be just as valuable as from mentors. You’ll find opportunities to share and grow with other startups in your batch and other batches. Every week, you’ll get together with the full batch to discuss your progress, give and receive feedback and suggestions, and keep each other accountable.
PITCH TRAINING SESSIONS
On a weekly basis we invite investors and pitch training experts to work and improve on your 3 minute pitch. This is one of the most popular sessions and the progress is remarkable.
OPTIONAL GROUP SESSIONS
We don’t want to waste your time with unnecessary group sessions and workshops. You will be offered a menu of group sessions on your common areas of needs. You are most welcome to join those if you think they are relevant, but we do not expect you to sit in classrooms to please the speakers and facilitators. On the contrary, we encourage you to walk out if you joined a session and did not find it useful for your company and specific questions.
WORKSPACE ADAPTED FOR CRUNCHTIME
The program will be tough. There’s no doubt about it. You’ll be working hard and sprinting fast. To do this, you’ll have 24/7 access to Norrsken House - a workspace built with entrepreneurs’ needs in focus. But it’s also about community - learning from and interacting with your peers. It may be the conversation by the coffee machine that’s the game-changer.
PIZZA NIGHTS WITH TALKS FROM INSPIRATIONAL FOUNDERS
In the midst of the sprinting, there’s still time for a little fun, laughter and inspiration. We’ll bring in inspiring entrepreneurs to give short Ask-Me-Anything sessions, followed by pizza & drinks with your peers, co-founders, mentors, and other startups we think are great.