UK accelerator Springboard is taking an unusual direction with its forthcoming Internet of Things-focused program; crowdfunding is becoming a part of the fundraising available to startups taking part.

Yes, all the teams will launch their products on Kickstarter to coincide with the traditional investor demo day. Kickstarter, which recently launched its UK presence, has provided Springboard with a curated page to showcase all the teams’ campaigns when they launch.

As far as we’re aware, this is the first time that an accelerator program has offered a crowdfunding option alongside the more usual equity-based investment that comes with participation and from investor day meetings. Springboard’s Jon Bradford says that the accelerator will take no share of funds raised via the Kickstarter campaigns.

Given that the startups involved could easily set up Kickstarter campaigns of their own accord, this may be seen as a publicity stunt on Springboard’s part. However, as today’s press release says “The Kickstarter platform will allow teams to test their products in the real world, lowering the risks of failure and enhancing the opportunity to raise further finance.” Given the benefits crowdfunding can provide hardware projects in terms of publicity as well as raising money, giving them a strong nudge in this direction isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

With so many accelerators operating around Europe now, it’s interesting to see how they’re adopting tactics to stand out from the crowd. For example, Amsterdam’s Rockstart Accelerator added an optional three-month extension including a US trip last year, while the Eleven accelerator in Bulgaria takes a multi-stage, filtered approach to funding the startups involved with the aim of offering additional support to the most promising ideas.

Springboard’s Internet of Things accelerator will take place in Cambridge, UK, and the closing date for applications is 13 January. In an additional announcement, the accelerator says that it is partnering with Makespace to offer teams access to important hardware prototyping tools such as 3D printers and laser cutters, and kit for working with electronics, woodwork and textiles.

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