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

The EIC Accelerator focuses on scientific or technological breakthroughs, which need significant funding over a longer timeframe before returns can be achieved. 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 unique financing model offering 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 and investors actors.

Also, 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.

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.