Commission opens first European Innovation Council calls worth €1 billion

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Following the launch of the European Innovation Council (EIC) and the announcement of the first funding opportunities, today the Commission opened the first EIC Accelerator calls. The funding worth over €1 billion aims to help scale up start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses that have the potential to achieve high impact. While over half of the funding is open to breakthrough innovations in any field, €495 million are earmarked for innovations that support the European Green Deal as well as digital and health technologies.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The EIC Accelerator is a unique funding instrument of the EU. It supports the development of breakthrough innovations through crowding-in private investors and offering support services to scale up. It will lead Europe at the forefront of innovation and new technologies, and help us tackle the health, environmental and societal challenges we are facing.”

The EIC Accelerator focuses on scientific discoveries or technological breakthroughs, which need significant funding over a longer timeframe before returns can be generated. Such innovations often struggle to attract financing because the risks and time involved are generally too high. This funding enables the innovators to attract the full investment amounts that are needed to scale up in a shorter timeframe.

The EIC Accelerator acts as a catalyst to crowd in other investors necessary for amplifying the scale of the innovations. A unique financing model offers start-ups and SMEs grants of up to €2.5 million combined with equity investments through the EIC Fund ranging from €500,000 to €15 million. In addition to financial support, all projects benefit from a range of Business Acceleration Services that provide access to leading expertise, corporates, investors and ecosystem actors.  

Also today, the Commission opened the EIC Pathfinder programme, with a budget of €168 million. Interdisciplinary teams of researchers can apply for research and innovation grants that will support them to realise their breakthrough ideas and have a transformative positive effect on our economy and society. The grants that vary from €3 to €4 million will focus on game-changing technologies that will address global challenges and improve our lives.

Background

Launched in March 2021 with a budget of more than €10 billion for 2021-2027, the European Innovation Council is a one-stop-shop for innovators. It provides support from the early-stage scientific research on breakthrough technologies, to transitioning research results into commercial opportunities, and the development and scaling up of innovative start-ups and SMEs. A key novelty of Horizon Europe, it builds on a successful pilot phase that ran from 2018-2020, and predecessor SME instrument and Future and Emerging Technologies programmes, which supported over 5,000 SMEs and start-ups and over 330 projects research projects.

The EIC Accelerator supports the later stages of technology development as well as scale-up. The technology component of the innovation must therefore have been tested and validated in a laboratory or other relevant environment. It complements two other EIC programmes: the ‘EIC Pathfinder‘ that supports interdisciplinary teams of researchers to realise their visions for scientific and technological breakthroughs, as well as ‘EIC Transition‘ that aims at transforming research results into innovation opportunities.

More information on the first EIC Accelerator and Pathfinder calls is available on the EIC website. Potential applicants can also contact the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency

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