Who we are
The European Innovation Council (EIC) has been established under the EU Horizon Europe programme. It has a budget of €10.1 billion to support game changing innovations throughout the lifecycle from early stage research, to proof of concept, technology transfer, and the financing and scale up of start-ups and SMEs.
Find out about EIC funding opportunities
The strategy and implementation of the EIC is steered by the EIC Board, which has independent members appointed from the world of innovation (entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, corporates and others from the innovation ecosystem).
The EIC and SME Executive Agency responsible for supporting the EIC Board and its President, and for implementing the EIC’s activities which are set out in an annual EIC Work Programme.
The EIC takes a pro-active approach to managing funding under the leadership of EIC Programme Managers who develop visions for innovation and technology breakthroughs and steer portfolios of projects to achieve these goals. EIC Programme Managers have a high level of expertise in their field, and are recruited for limited time periods (up to 4 years) to design and oversee EIC funding in their portfolio areas.
A unique feature of the EIC is that it provides funding for individual companies (mainly startups and SMEs) through both grants and investments. The investments currently take the form of direct equity or quasi-equity investments and are managed by the EIC Fund.
Collaboration with EIT
In January 2021, the European Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) to reinforce their cooperation to support the best European entrepreneurs. This will enable innovators, innovative SMEs and start-ups, higher education institutions and research organisations to receive quality support services to deploy and scale up innovations faster and with greater impact.
EIC experts, jury members, and coaches
The EIC draws on a wide range of external advice and expertise in order to select the most promising projects and companies and to support them:
- EIC expert evaluators assess applications for funding against the criteria for excellence, impact and implementation.
- EIC jury members conduct face to face interviews with shortlisted companies and projects applying for funding
- EIC coaches provide advice to companies and projects both at the application stage and for maximising the impacts of EIC funding
EIC pilot phase (2018-20)
The EIC pilot phase was launched in 2018, incorporating existing instruments under the Horizon 2020 programme, in particular the SME instrument and Future & Emerging Technology (FET) programme. These funding schemes were brought together in single work programme to provide direct support to innovators throughout Europe.
The EIC pilot phase, together with the existing instruments, supported:
- Over 430 projects on Future and Emerging Technologies, involving over 2700 partners. These projects have generated over 3000 peer reviewed scientific articles, over 600 innovations, and over 100 patents.
- Over 5700 startups and SMEs, who have raised over €5 billion in follow up investments (3 euro for every euro from the EU budget) andon average, more than doubled the number of employees in a 2 year period