The chart below provides an overview of the evolution of startup incubators and accelerators across the globe, and in the Australian market. It tries to track the first-movers across the different categories of accelerators and incubators.
Although the history of incubators can be traced back to Bell Laboratories and early corporate and technology incubator models the real genesis of the modern model for startup accelerators was the launch of Y-Combinator in 2005.
Y-Combinator itself was a response to the relative lack of early-stage investor interest following the dotcom crash at the turn of the century. Early adopters of the Y Combinator model, including Techstars, Plug and Play (2006 in the US) and Seedcamp (2007 in UK/Europe) were relatively few at first, but in the following 16 years the global number of startup accelerators and incubators has grown into the thousands,
The key new categories of accelerators and incubators were all developed in the 6-7 years after the launch of Y-Combinator.
Obviously, with such rapid growth it is possible we may have missed some of the early movers. Very happy to update the diagram and/or add new categories that you think should be acknowledged.