ZeroTo510 Named Top 25 U.S. Accelerator

The ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator has been announced as one of the top accelerators in the country for the second year in a row.  The Memphis-based accelerator has been named as one of the top 25 business accelerators in the United States out of only 150 programs that were invited to participate this year.  The new rankings were announced today at SXSW and in TechCrunch.

For 2016, the rankings have moved to a tier system, with no ordinal ranking within tier, and all programs are listed in alphabetical order within tier. A silver-tier program, ZeroTo510 is the only accelerator in Tennessee ranked among platinum, gold and silver tiers.

From TechCrunch: “There’s a bigger difference between bronze and silver than there is between gold and silver. Achieving gold is something to be proud of. But these are all top, top, and top programs, not top, middle, and bottom programs,” said Susan Cohen of the University of Richmond.

The rankings are provided by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project and are based on detailed confidential data on accelerator portfolio outcomes, producing the most complete and comprehensive dataset on accelerator performance available. To be invited to participate in the rankings, accelerator programs had to meet several criteria. First, they had to meet the definition of accelerator: Programs had to be fixed-term, cohort-based startup “boot-camps” that include educational and mentorship components and culminate in public pitch or demo day. They also had to have graduated at least one cohort and have more than 10 startup graduates. The research team also surveyed graduates of the accelerator programs to assess satisfaction. Nearly 1,000 accelerator graduates participated in the survey.

The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project, the brainchild of Yael Hochberg, an entrepreneurship professor at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business and researcher with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Innovation Initiative Lab for Innovation Science, Susan Cohen, an assistant professor of management at Richmond’s Robins School of Business, and Dan Fehder, a PhD candidate at the MIT Sloan School of Management, are based on a variety of metrics, including the valuations of participating startups, amount of funding raised by participating startups, startups’ survival rates and ratings provided by program graduates.

“There are new accelerator programs popping up very month,” Hochberg said. “Our goal is to generate a larger conversation about what makes some seed accelerators more successful and help entrepreneurs find the right fit for their startup.”

“With so many programs available, it’s hard for entrepreneurs to know which programs are best,” Cohen said. “The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project adds needed transparency to help entrepreneurs make a critically important decision for their startups.”

Applications for the fifth cohort of ZeroTo510, the leading entrepreneurship accelerator program for medical device products and services with a demonstrated track record of success in bringing start-up companies to market, will be accepted until March 15, 2016.

ZeroTo510 is unique among accelerator programs in that it focuses on medical devices, leveraging the regional strengths of the Memphis area.  The goal of the three-month, mentor-driven program is to help medical device entrepreneurs navigate the start-up process, refine their business models and achieve the Food and Drug Administration’s 510(k) pre-market notification filing.

Now in its fifth year, the program has accelerated the creation of 20 new companies, $9.2 million in investments, and more than 40 jobs. In addition, 60 percent of graduates have received post-accelerator follow-on funding, at an average of $675,000 per company. The nationally recognized program has attracted entrepreneurs from the Memphis area and from outside the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, including Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Duke University in Durham, N.C., and from Washington, D.C., Little Rock, Ark., and Chihuahua, Mexico. Among these companies’ successes: five have completed the FDA clearance or exemption process and have products in the marketplace generating revenue. As the first-ever medical device accelerator, ZeroTo510 is now recognized as a benchmark model for medical device accelerators both nationally and internationally.

Through a competitive application process, up to six companies will be selected for the 2016 cohort and will receive $50,000 in initial seed capital from co-investors Innova, a pre-seed, seed and early-stage investor focused on starting and funding high-growth companies in the healthcare, technology and healthcare technology fields across the state of Tennessee; and MB Venture Partners, a Memphis-based venture capital firm that provides equity capital and strategic direction to life sciences start-ups. ZeroTo510 is operated by Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

ZeroTo510 is also an integral part of EPIcenter, which serves as a central point of contact for the Memphis region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and coordinates resources from various organizations in the community such as accelerators, incubators, mentors, investors, networking programs, and technical assistance programs for entrepreneurs.  Together with the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle, Memphis Bioworks, Emerge Memphis, Start Co., and other partners, EPIcenter is pursuing a common goal of creating a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Memphis to service the Mid-South region. Beyond the accelerator process, ZeroTo510 participants will also have access to EPIcenter-led collaborations among entrepreneurial support organizations in Memphis, as well as expertise and support from the full entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.

Information on applying and additional information about the ZeroTo510 program is available at

ZeroTo510 is funded under an agreement with Launch Tennessee and/or the State of Tennessee.

About the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project

The Seed Accelerator Rankings Project aims to begin a larger conversation about what makes seed accelerators successful and to provide entrepreneurs with a tool to help them decide which seed accelerators are a good match for their startup. Confidential data provided by accelerator programs and accelerator alumni are incorporated into the evaluation process.

The rankings team is led by Hochberg, Cohen and Fehder. All three are former entrepreneurs turned academics and are considered among the leading research experts on accelerators and their efficacy.

For more information about the project, go to