A European Commission-backed network of 20 accelerator programmes – led by Seedcamp, TechStars, Seed-DB, Bethnal Green Ventures, Nesta and How to Web – launched today in a bid to find better ways of sharing knowledge and best practices among the organizations.

Startup Europe’s Accelerator Assembly, as it is properly known, will be focused on connecting disparate programmes, generating new research on startup and accelerator growth and strengthening the policy debate to improve the environment for startups in Europe.

“Our hope for the economic future lies in startups, innovators and entrepreneurs. Web entrepreneurs will play a vital role in creating tomorrow’s ideas, tomorrow’s jobs and tomorrow’s economic growth. Using innovative technologies and platforms, they build products, create services and develop a multitude of solutions which improve and enrich our professional and private lives on a daily basis,” Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission (EC), said.

“For this reason we are working on strengthening the environment for web entrepreneurs in Europe, and supporting accelerators to deliver high impact programmes is a key part of this.”

In addition to provoking debate and generating research, the Assembly will also host an online Yammer forum (sponsored by Microsoft Ventures and Yammer, naturally), and stage a European Accelerator Conference next year.

Kroes and the EC realize that incubators and accelerators are a vital tool for budding businesses and entrepreneurs as they provide a workspace, advice and support – as well as vital funds – to help them realize their vision.

Nesta, an organization for promoting innovation in the UK, is also involved in the Startup Europe Accelerator Assembly and said that the number of accelerators in its 2011 Startup Factories report (as defined by its own terms around size, pre-seed investment, application process and focus on group mentoring) had more than doubled from 16 to 34 in the last two years.

Kroes’ work with tech accelerators is no surprise given she’s also the Digital Agenda Commissioner for Europe, a job that has seen her push for faster, cheaper broadband access across the EU and a single, far more simple telecoms market.

Image Credit: ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/GettyImages