Plenty of founders have a difficult decision to make early in their journey: where to set up shop.

For deep tech founders, the decision is complicated by the fact that they typically need more from their space. Some might need lab benches, others might require massive amounts of electricity, and still others might need room for large equipment. It’s not as easy as signing up for a desk at a nearby co-working space.

In the past, deep tech founders often had to go it alone; there wasn’t much in the way of assistance as they migrated out of their academic labs and into the startup world. Today, though, there are a wealth of options, including The Engine Accelerator, SOSV’s Hax and IndieBio programs, and the Regional Innovation Engines that were recently announced by the National Science Foundation.

Founders no longer have to do it all themselves. Rather, the challenge is figuring out which startup program will be the best fit.

Emily Knight, president of The Engine Accelerator, spoke at TechCrunch Early Stage in Boston about how founders should evaluate their options.

The first thing they should look for is an organization that has “patient resources and patient capital,” she said. Given that deep tech tends to take a long time to de-risk and bring to market, the timelines tend to be longer.

After that, “early startups needed to ask the question, if the technology works, and let’s assume it does, what else do we have to think about?” Knight said. “You need to make a short list of the priorities of what you need today.”

That list will include funding, but also equipment to develop the technology and expertise to help solve problems and navigate regulatory landscapes.

Once founders have compiled a list, then they can start evaluating startup programs. “Which of these accelerators or programs or fellowships or co-working spaces — whatever they are — have the resources you need?” Knight said.

At The Engine, Knight said they’re focused on not just providing space and equipment, but also support for founders who are often on a long journey. “We’re creating a community for the founders, for people who are doing something that may feel very lonely, that is typically first of a kind. They probably don’t have a lot of peers.”

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