The Rise of New Models of Start-up Support: How Makerspaces, Hackathons, and Start-up Competitions influence Entrepreneurship

  • Paul Sterzenbach

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis explores the phenomena of makerspaces, hackathons, and start-up competitions, which have become more widespread throughout the past decade in many entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world. These organisations aim for supporting founders and start-ups through the development of ideas and innovations, venture teams, or legitimacy among others. The main objective of this thesis is to empirically investigate the resources and processes of makerspaces, hackathons, and start-up competitions and analyse how founders utilize these resources for the development of their ventures. The thesis applies abductive methods, based on interview and social media data that allow in-depth insights into experiences and perceptions of both supported founders and the management of start-up support. The first paper compares these start-up support models with business incubators and accelerators and analyses their competing and complementary functions as organisational sponsors (Amezcua et al., 2013). The second paper explores how founders in makerspaces, hackathons, and start-up competitions utilize resources. This lens also enables analysing how these models of support can mitigate founders limitations to accurately collect and evaluate information. The analysis sheds light on the mitigation of founders bounded rationality (Gavetti et al., 2007; March & Simon, 1958) in new models of start-up support (cf. Cohen et al., 2018). The third paper explores how founders in makerspaces, hackathons, and accelerators deal with uncertainty and how mechanisms of uncertainty coping correspond with principles of creational entrepreneurial methods such as the lean start-up methodology (Alvarez & Barney, 2007; Gans et al., 2019; Sarasvathy, 2001). Overall, findings suggest that these models of start-up support offer significant complementary functions to founders in entrepreneurial ecosystems. The results also indicate that makerspaces, hackathons, and start-up competitions can mitigate bounded rationality through opportunity structures that support experimentation and playful learning. This thesis further shows how perceptions of uncertainty and respective coping mechanisms differ significantly across support models. The findings result in a model of sequencing of support and uncertainty coping mechanisms. It offers an approach to address the fit of support models with start-ups in different development stages. The thesis contributes to practice in offering insights and suggestions for start-ups, support management, and policymakers on issues such as the design and selection of support models, the improvement of support processes, and alternatives for effective entrepreneurship policies.
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJakob Edler (Supervisor) & Jonatan Pinkse (Supervisor)


  • Start-up competition
  • Makerspace
  • Hackathon
  • Entrepreneurial methods
  • Accelerator
  • Start-up incubation

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