Hardware Accelerators, such as HAX and Brinc.io, provides the brains, muscles, and capital to bring innovative ideas into commercial products. In this article, we explain how Hardware Accelerators operate, and what differs them from sourcing agents and manufacturers.
In addition, we also list leading Hardware Accelerators in Hong Kong and Shenzhen:
- Highway 1
- Shenzhen Valley Ventures
- Hong Kong Design Incubation Programme
- iDM-Square Hardware Accelerator
- ReadWrite Labs
What is a Hardware Accelerator?
Hardware Accelerators take products from idea stage to market. Entrepreneurs can either apply to join the Hardware Accelerators program, which normally follows a standardized procedure:
Step 1: Product Engineering (Create CAD files and BoM)
Step 2: Prototyping (This is normally done in-house)
Step 3: Initial Production Run
Most Hardware Accelerators offer their services for free, or at a heavily discounted rate, compared to traditional prototyping companies. In return, the Hardware Accelerator often receives equity in the startups participating in the program.
The long term bet is that a few of them will eventually go big (e.g. public), and everyone will cash in and live happily ever after. In a way, Hardware Accelerators can be described as seed funds with engineering capability.
Wired made a fantastic 1-hour documentary about the hardware scene in Shenzhen a few years ago that explains how Hardware Accelerators operate.
What’s the benefit of working with a Hardware Accelerator?
Taking a product from concept to mass production is difficult, especially when it comes to electronics. You can’t simply bring your idea to an OEM electronics factory and expect them to invest their time and money to develop a product that you own.
Likewise, sourcing companies rarely possess the level of technical expertise needed to develop complex products. If they do, they also require upfront payments counted in the tens of thousands of dollars to cover product development, prototyping and order management – and you’ll still need to pay the factory.
Don’t expect to find any legit agency undertaking costly product development projects based on order commission alone.
Hardware Accelerators provide the facilities, equipment, expertise, network and money you’ll need to realize your idea.
What does it take to be accepted by a Hardware Accelerator?
A Hardware Accelerators generally look for ‘innovative’ technology products that fit into their product scope. Take a look at the Portfolio Companies below to get an idea of what they’re after.
Why are so many hardware accelerators based in Hong Kong and Shenzhen?
Shenzhen is the world’s epicenter of electronics manufacturing. Its ecosystem of component suppliers, tooling factories and engineers make it the only realistic option for electronics prototyping and mass production – even within China itself.
Hong Kong is no longer a manufacturing base, but it’s literary walking distance from Shenzhen, and a free port that serves as the headquarters for all sorts of service companies, Hardware Accelerators included.
In 2011, Cyril Ebersweiler founded the company HAX in China’s city of technology and innovation hub — Shenzhen. HAX is currently one of the biggest, most active pioneering hardware accelerator investors in the world.
The cross-disciplinary team members of HAX come from different countries with rich experiences in product creation and business growth. In half a decade, the company has already assisted over 200 startup companies to grow as a business.
As different hardware-based business have distinctive needs, they provide services of designing a top-down refined acceleration program in Hardware, Software, Biology, Green Energy, etc. catering to the particular needs requested by the company. Their program operates across Shenzhen and San Francisco.
In less than 90 days, turning an idea into a hardware prototype is made possible with the help of experienced engineers and advanced outsourcing networks.
- Amber Agriculture
Brinc is a hardware accelerator company founded by Bay McLaughlin and co-founded by Bashar Aboudaoud and Yasin Aboudaoud. Their three offices are located in Hong Kong, China and also Bahrain.
Brinc believes diversity is the most crucial core values of a company. Brinc specifically helps those who are looking to positively benefit and improve the standard of life for people. Therefore, their team come from 10 different countries, speaks 11 languages and more than half of their staffs are female members.
Brinc’s acceleration programs help startups in accelerating their business in Drones, Hardware, Robotics and Food Technology. Their 4-weeks-long Ramp Up program runs twice a year, selected teams are granted to the investment phase of the program, which includes both online and onsite training.
- IoT & Connected Hardware
- Food Technology
- Drones & Robotics
- Portfolio Companies
Highway1 is a premier hardware startup accelerator established in 2013. They work with startup companies and world-class industrial designers on product testings and market assumptions. Highway1’s has years of experiences and expertise in manufacturing, product development.
They also have connected with a vast global supply chain network. This helps them to partner with numerous startups from all over the world to manage hardware development in a more co-efficient way.
Their PCH designs program is catered to startups that focus on brand, product design, and customer experiences. The programs have services of design engineering and development, manufacturing, fulfillment, and development.
On the other hand, PCH Access is a program that assists hardware startups to proceed to the market. It provides an integrated platform which makes the process of producing hardware prototypes to mass manufacturing a much easier, and enjoyable experience for hardware startups.
- Virtual Reality Technology
- Medical Service Technology
- News and Media
- Fast Co.Design
- Tech Crunch
- Fierce Medical Devices
Shenzhen Valley Ventures
Located at the city of technology and innovation, Shenzhen Valley Ventures (SVV) has one of the most advanced technologies in the hardware engineering industry. The firm works with startups who are at their late-stage of product development and invests in those with high-quality products and innovative designs.
They focus on providing hardware capital support for companies to make a prototype, perform testings, debug to proceed to manufacture. Their team of hardware engineers are specialized in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and other technological industries.
SVV also has large transnational communities and fellow venture partners network, which helps to drive the rapid growth of hardware startup companies.
- Surgical Robot
Hong Kong Design Incubation Programme
The Hong Kong Design Incubation Programme (DIP) is a hardware acceleration programme funded by the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC). HKDC is a non-profit and publicly funded organization, their mission is to promote wider use of design for creating business value and community benefits, sustainable development through design and innovation.
DIP is fully funded by CreateHK of Hong Kong SAR Government that aims to maintain the sustainability and development of the city’s creative human capitals and enterprises. It includes a 3-fold programme — Business Knowledge; Mentorship; Business Outreaching.
The 2-year programme seeks to nurture design-preneurs by providing hardware and software support to startups in their early stage of business development. In addition, it also offers financial aid in operation, marketing and development; free and discount office space; business centre assistance, etc.
- Fashion Design
- Product Design
- Visual/ Spatial arts
- Jewellery and Accessories
- A.L.P.S. Design Limited
- Necro Studio
- Christian Stone
IDM-Square Hardware Accelerator
The Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) works with a large network of strategic partners — The Hong Kong Design Centre, Federation of Hong Kong Industries, AzTech, Infineon, etc.
Their connections with diversive innovators; collaborations with corporates, universities and research institute in technological engineering and a wide range of creative environment services makes the IDM-square a judicious choice when choosing a hardware acceleration programme.
IDM-square is a 6-month hardware development programme by HKSTP. IDM stands for the idea realisation journey — “Idea, Design, Manufacture, Market”. IDM-square aims to coach market analysis, market positioning as the startup proceed to commercial-viable production and market.
Not only that it helps to assist startups on reducing production cost, but also helps to shorten the product development process to help them grow their business.
- Biomedical Technology
- Green Technology
- Material and Precision Engineering
- August Robotics
- Motive Force
Founded in 2013 by Phillip Cases, The ReadWrite Labs is an industry catalyst that helps to build business growth by connecting different hardware companies, investors, research institutes, entrepreneurs to help sustaining the world’s most innovative and creative IoT industries.
ReadWrite Labs has a transnational community of 500,000+ people in the new digital industry in Connected Cars, FinTech, Smart Homes across San Francisco, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Making them one of the most successful agencies in the competitive hardware acceleration industry as they had assisted numerous startups to penetrate to the global IoT market.
Unlike any other accelerator programs, their IoT Club is an one-of-a-kind educational online platform. Since setting a strong foundation, fundraising and having the right members on the team are all crucial elements for any IoT business to maintain their long-term competitiveness.
As a result, their online accelerator program provides an all-inclusive insights into what you will need to succeed in the trillion-dollar IoT market.
- Car Industry
- Global Resources: Startup Launchpad
- Startup GRIND powered by Google