EIC considers proposals with a requested EU contribution of up to EUR 3 million for Pathfinder Open and up to EUR 4 million for Pathfinder Challenges as appropriate. Nonetheless, this does not preclude you to request larger amounts, if properly justified.
In general, there is no specific expectation on the number of partners in a consortium or the duration of EIC Pathfinder projects, which should be “fit-for-purpose”, i.e. decided in line with the S&T ambition, by ensuring an efficient implementation strategy of the planned R&I, dissemination and exploitation activities and considering quickly changing research landscape in given area(s). Note however that the eligibility conditions of each call needs to be satisfied (e.g., 3 minimum legal entities for consortia in Pathfinder Open and 2 for consortia in the Pathfinder Challenge, unless specified in the Challenge text call). For some Pathfinder Challenges, projects are expected to have a set duration specified in the in the Challenge Guide.
Applications from single legal entities are not eligible under the EIC Pathfinder Open call and under the EIC Pathfinder Challenge – Awareness Inside. Single legal entities can however submit applications under the other EIC Pathfinder Challenges, where they will compete with proposals submitted by consortia.
It is expected that the various activities within the EIC Pathfinder projects should cover low TRLs, typically in the range between TRL 1 and 4. Note however that the TRLs range of some EIC Pathfinder Challenges may be narrower as specified in the given Pathfinder Challenge text call and Challenge Guide.
The main expected outcomes of Pathfinder projects are top-level scientific publications in open access and an adequate formal protection of the generated Intellectual Property (e.g. a patent application). In addition, the expected outcome of Pathfinder Open project is the proof of principle that the main ideas of the envisioned future technology are feasible, thus validating its scientific and technological basis. For Pathfinder Challenge projects, the expected outcomes are described in the given Challenge text call and Challenge Guide. Moreover, Pathfinder Challenge projects are also expected to contribute to the outcomes of the Challenge Portfolio activities as described in the Challenge Guide.
The participation of SMEs and industrial partners in the EIC Pathfinder consortia is not compulsory.
Please note however that for the Pathfinder Open call, applicants are encouraged to involve and empower in their team key actors that have the potential to become future leaders in their field such as excellent early-career researchers or promising high-tech SMEs, including start-ups.
In 2021, the EIC will launch two calls for proposals under the Pathfinder: a bottom-up call (Pathfinder Open) and a top-down call (Pathfinder Challenges). These calls build on the FET Open and the FET Proactive parts of the EIC Pathfinder pilot under Horizon 2020, respectively.
The EIC will take an active approach of project and programme management to develop business and technology-based visions, assisted by designated Programme Managers whose task will be to identify, develop and implement such visions and to nurture potential market-creating innovation out of EIC funded projects and activities.
- the EIC will encourage and stimulate further maturation of preliminary findings and results by providing guidance but also additional and continuous support, including financial;
- Pathfinder projects will have direct access for submitting full proposals to the EIC Accelerator call under a novel fast-track procedure;
- Pathfinder project participants can also receive additional support in the form ad-hoc grants of up to EUR 50 000 to explore potential pathways to commercialisation or for portfolio activities
Main changes specific for EIC Pathfinder Open include:
- Revision of the Gatekeepers that describe the essential characteristics for Pathfinder Open proposals; full alignment with the corresponding evaluation sub-criteria under Excellence.
- Introduction of a rebuttal procedure to provide applicants the opportunity to reply to the evaluators’ comments before the ranking list is finalised.
- A slightly increased page limit for Pathfinder Open proposals (17 A4 pages for sections 1-3 of part B) compared to FET Open (15 A4 pages).
Main changes specific for EIC Pathfinder Challenges include:
- For each Challenge, a Pathfinder Challenge Guide will be published on the EIC website and on the Funding & Tenders Portal. This Challenge Guide will provide more information about the specific objectives of the Challenge, as well as relevant portfolio considerations.
- Applications from single legal entities will be eligible for most of the topics (except the Pathfinder Challenge – Awareness Inside).
- The ranking list of proposals to be funded will be based on the evaluation scores as well as on each proposal’s contribution to the setting up of a consistent portfolio of projects. The evaluation committee may also propose adjustments to the proposals in as far as needed for the consistency of the portfolio approach.
Projects funded under the Pathfinder Challenges call will be included in the corresponding Challenge portfolio with a medium to long-term business goal and a technology-based strategic plan under the supervision of an EIC Programme Manager.
The Gatekeepers in the EIC Pathfinder Open call describe the essential characteristics that submitted proposals should have. They describe the kind of ideas the programme is looking for to facilitate the applicants’ decision on proposal submission.
In comparison to the EIC Pilot, proposals that do not convincingly satisfy all Gatekeepers will not be declared ‘out of scope’, but they are very likely to receive low marks by the EIC expert evaluators as the Gatekeepers are in direct correspondence with the first three sub-criteria of the Excellence criterion.
About 2-2.5 months after the call deadline the applicants will receive via the Funding & Tenders Portal, the evaluators’ comments and will have the chance to reply to them within 7 calendar days with a strict page limit (maximum two A4 pages). The participants’ replies cannot be used to alter or add to the content of the proposals, but must strictly focus providing clarifications and/or on responding to potential misunderstandings or errors by the evaluators. These replies will be made available to the evaluation committee who will decide on the final score on the basis of the remote score and the outcome of its consensus discussions, taking into consideration the comments from the rebuttal procedure, if any.
There are no consequences if a participant does not submit observations (not compulsory).
The evaluation process includes two steps: first, a remote evaluation of each proposal separately and second, the evaluation by the Evaluation Committee taking into account portfolio considerations. Portfolio considerations for a given Challenge call are described in the Pathfinder Challenge Guide. As a general principle, in order to balance out the portfolio, a categorisation of the proposals will be used and the proposals will be allocated to different components or categories. A suitable portfolio of proposals to be funded will be selected by the evaluation committee from the highest scoring ones for each category or component and proposed for funding.
Projects in a Challenge portfolio are expected to interact and exchange, remaining flexible and reactive in the light of developments within the portfolio or in the relevant global scientific or industrial community. They will progress together towards common Portfolio goals and create new opportunities for radical innovation as described in the Challenge Guide.
Each Pathfinder Open project will be allocated in at least one thematic or challenge portfolio. This allocation may change over time as new portfolios are created or evolve. EIC Portfolio activities will be identified and developed by EIC Programme Managers in consultation with the beneficiaries of the actions in each portfolio, and where appropriate with other interested EIC Community members and third parties. The aim of thematic portfolios is to develop cooperation within the portfolio in order to support the member-projects in achieving more efficiently and effectively their objectives, and more generally to enhance research, prepare transition to innovation and stimulate business opportunities, and strengthen the EIC Community. Such activities may include participation to conferences, workshops or meetings, data sharing, or participation to any relevant EIC Business Acceleration Services events, just to name a few.
It should be emphasised that the Pathfinder Open call is bottom-up and thus the level of adherence of a proposal to one or several existing portfolios is not an eligibility or evaluation criterion for proposals submitted to this call. It is nevertheless expected that all Pathfinder projects will be included in at least one portfolio.
Pathfinder Open proposals do not need to allocate budget for these activities while those from Pathfinder Challenges should allocate a corresponding budget as indicated in the relevant Challenge Guide.
In specific cases the participation in portfolio activities may be supported by ad hoc grants with fixed amounts of up to EUR 50 000 per project.
The Challenge-driven approach will continue in future EIC work programmes beyond 2021. The topics identified for the challenge-driven calls in the EIC WP 2021 will evolve, with new topics identified in later years, with the possibility of some topics identified in this Work Programme to be complemented with additional funding. Throughout 2021, the EIC will organise various discussions and events to help identify the most promising emerging topics for the Challenges, and EIC Programme Managers are expected to play a central role in this process.
The European Commission supports the formation of consortia for Pathfinder calls by means of its Partner Search tool on the Funding and Tenders Portal. Specific networking events may be organised and announced at a later stage. Please also contact your National Contact Point for further information and support.
Why is there no option for rebuttal under Pathfinder Challenges?
The rebuttal process is a pilot that will be introduced in 2021 to the evaluations of proposals submitted to the Pathfinder Open call only. If successful, it might be rolled out to other Horizon Europe calls at a later stage.
Proposals must build on results from an ongoing or finished project, funded as a result of a call in any relevant topic and clearly identified in the proposal. Proposals must include a declaration by the coordinator or the IP owner(s) of the necessary rights and ownership of results to be exploited, as described in the proposal.
Applicants that are not the owner of the result to be further developed in the proposal must provide a letter from the relevant beneficiary or beneficiaries of the previous relevant project that own(s) the result that confirms the existence of the necessary agreements with the applicants, including on IPR.
The Seal of Excellence is a quality label awarded to project proposals submitted to the EIC, to help these proposals find alternative funding. It certifies the value of the proposal, based on the outcome of the rigorous EIC evaluation process.
Proposals for EIC Transition (mono-beneficiary only) that were judged to deserve funding (i.e. met all the evaluation criteria) but did not get it due to budget limits will receive the Seal of Excellence. EIC Transition proposals must meet the thresholds on all evaluation criteria to receive the Seal of Excellence.
The Seal of Excellence projects can participate in activities and request up to three days of free business coaching through the EIC Business Acceleration Services, and access to finance services through the Enterprise Europe Network (for SMEs).
The expected size may depend on the path chosen, the sector and amount of work proposed in the application. E.g.: for mono-beneficiary proposals, the budget may be smaller than for multi-beneficiary proposals, and certain sectors may be more expensive than others.
The minimum amount envisaged for a project is EUR 500 000.
The Work Programme allows for the participation of academic partners without an SME or industrial partner. However, the evaluation will assess the “necessary high-quality expertise, capabilities and motivation to move decisively towards innovation, create a unique commercial value from the emerging technology and develop an attractive business and investment proposition”.
It is therefore encouraged that companies participate, including SMEs/start-ups, and which may include companies that did not take part in the previous consortia that originated the results.
The Transition Challenge projects will be by default part of the related challenge portfolio. If deemed necessary, the Transition Open projects may be allocated to at least one Thematic or Challenge Portfolio.
The applicants should have sufficient preliminary business case/business model and market analysis for the application area(s) they have in mind at the proposal stage. The Transition projects should advance both the technology and business aspects. The business case and business model will be refined during the project duration as to become a credible basis for entrepreneurship, business creation and investment.
As a general rule, you may apply to the EIC Accelerator if your previous project is finalized.
-Beneficiaries of ongoing grant-only projects (SME Phase 2 or EIC Accelerator Pilot) can only apply to the investment-only component. They will have to submit a new proposal to the short application phase.
-Beneficiaries of completed projects can apply for any of the options starting from the short application: grant + investment; investment-only; grant only/first.
Please keep in mind a grant-only support under the EIC Accelerator can only be provided once to a beneficiary during Horizon Europe for a maximum of EUR 2.5 million to cover activities of TRL 5/6 to 8.
Grant-only beneficiaries under the EIC Accelerator pilot in Horizon 2020 can apply for an investment component follow-up in Horizon Europe. To do so, eligible applicants will have to submit a new proposal via the short application stage of the evaluation procedure for the EIC Accelerator
All companies receiving a GO from the remote evaluation stage will be invited to the face-to-face interviews. In case the number of companies to invite exceeds the capacities of the initially planned interview sessions, a first batch of companies will be invited according to the prioritisation as set out in the Work Programme. The remaining batch of companies to interview will be invited to a further set of interviews to be organised before the interviews of the next cut-off date.
The consequences of losing the SME status during the implementation of the grant component will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking in consideration, in particular, the causes for losing the SME status. A change to the ownership situation of the beneficiary that calls into question the decision to award the grant may constitute a ground for terminating the contract.
There are no excluded investors by geography a priori. However, the EIC is an initiative of the EU and where relevant, considerations will take into account EU technology sovereignty. When implementing investments decided by the Commission, the EIC Fund will ensure that supported companies keep most of their value, including their IP, in the EU or in the Associated Countries in order to contribute to their economic growth and job creation. The Commission may set specific conditions and milestones in the contract to ensure that the interest of the Union is met.
Before submitting the full application, applicant companies will be offered the opportunity to share certain data and information with investors who have undergone a prior EIC Fund due diligence process and who may wish to invest in the company or project and assist the company in developing its idea into a business plan.
For applications for blended finance (including an investment component), the EIC Fund will start the negotiation process to structure the potential investment agreement. During this stage, the EIC Fund will also look for other investors. The company will be asked for its consent before other investors are contacted or engaged in negotiations.
Companies are allowed to send a maximum of three representatives to the interview. More details on this respect will be communicated at a later stage.
Existing investors or investors that submitted a proposal on behalf of an applicant that is subsequently invited to the interview, are also eligible to attend the interview among the three representatives of the company. Investors are expected to explain how they are supporting and/or intend to support the company if it is retained for the EIC support.
Pathfinder's Transition activities help all types of researchers and innovators develop the pathway to commercial development in the Union, such as demonstration activities and feasibility studies to assess potential business cases, and support the creation of spin offs and start-ups. Transition activities are open to projects and/or results stemming from the EIC Pathfinder, FET, and ERC Proof of Concept and such results are typically at TRL 3-4. At the end of a Transition project, the technology should have matured to TRL 5/6 and the business case should be sufficiently advanced for the applicant to be ready for the next stage, which can be to apply for EIC Accelerator.
Applicants selected under the EIC Accelerator may be awarded grant first support with the investment component of blended finance introduced at a later stage. This is the case when the innovation is at least TRL 5/6 but is based on a scientific discovery or novel technology and still requires significant work to validate and demonstrate in relevant environments in order to properly assess its commercial potential. Such innovations may include, but are not limited to, those based on research results from the EIC Pathfinder and Transition, as well as European Research Council. Grant-first companies are eligible for a follow on equity component subject to a milestone assessment attesting that the innovation activities are well under way and that the innovation has the potential for deployment.
Once you submit your short application, you should receive results within approximately 2-4 weeks.
From that moment, you may submit the full proposal to any of the cut-off dates within the next 12 months from the date of the response to your short application.
Once you submit the full application, we will aim to inform you of the evaluation results as follows:
- Within approximately 5-6 weeks you will be informed about the result of the remote evaluation. If successful, you will be invited to attend a face-to-face interview with an EIC jury.
- Face to face interviews will be organised approximately 8-9 weeks after the cut-off date (or longer if there is a need for a further set of interviews).
- You will be informed about the result of the interview within approximately 2-3 weeks.
If you are selected for funding, you will be invited to negotiate and then sign an initial contract that will initially provide for the grant component.
In parallel, if your application included an investment component, the EIC Fund will start the negotiation process to structure the potential investment. At the end of this process, which should usually take between 2 to 6 months, the investment component will be decided.
For short application, applicants will be invited to fill a questionnaire on the EIC AI-based IT platform illustrating their innovation and submit a 10-slide presentation and a 3-minute video pitch. Applicants will also have to estimate the costs required to develop their idea, in the form of grant or investment, and they will have to demonstrate the need for EU support. Please note that at this step, the amounts are indicative and non-binding.
Full application consists of a detailed business plan and full information on the company’s finances and structure. Applicants will also need to propose a set of milestones to be used as a basis for the EIC to manage the funding for their innovation. Applicants are requested to define at this stage the type of funding (Grant and investment, grant only, grant first, investment only) they are applying for and provide a detailed budget.
An applicant will be expected to have improved the proposal, strengthening the weaknesses highlighted by the Jury. The pitch deck should also be updated reflecting the changes in the proposal.
Applicants will be asked to indicate the novel and improved elements in the proposal compared to the previous one(s) for experts to assess.
Yes, applicants will receive detailed feedback from each of the individual expert evaluators on the different award criteria.
Reimbursable advances are not available at the start of 2021 but may be introduced during the course of 2021 in which case the terms and conditions will be made available on the EIC website.
The EIC Accelerator’s investment component may take the form of direct equity or quasi-equity such as convertible loans. The EIC Fund will propose the structure of the investment according to the outcome of the due diligence.
The EIC Accelerator may include other financial instruments in future years.
Various typologies of risks are covered during the evaluation, including technology, regulatory and implementation/market risks. The experts will assess the considerations given to the management and mitigation of these risks.
It is not a disadvantage to apply for grant only, but all applications will be assessed against the same evaluation criteria, including the potential to scale up the innovation. If the applicant applies for grant only, then they must demonstrate that the company has other sources of finance for scaling up the innovation. Applicants should apply to the one that best fits their needs.
Any significant information which changes between the submission of the full application and the interview should be highlighted to the jury during the interview and will be assessed accordingly by the jury. Any major change after the outcome of the interview should be taken into account during the negotiation process to structure the potential investment agreement during compliance checks, due diligence, syndication of potential co-investors, tranches of investment and related objectives and milestones, etc.
Yes, the expert evaluators at each step of the process will have access to the ratings. However, please keep in mind this information is not a score and is meant only as additional guidance and insights to assist the applicants in their application and for the experts in their assessment. Therefore, the ultimate responsibility of the application remains with the applicant. Experts may use the information to support their assessment, but ultimately the experts’ decision is their own responsibility and should be based on their knowledge and expertise.
The AI-based IT Platform will provide applicants with AI support to assess their concept/idea as they prepare their short application. If the short application is successful, the AI-based IT Platform will further provide AI & methodological support to help applicants develop their business plan in the full application. It is the applicant’s decision how to respond to the feedback and support, and the applicant is fully responsible for the content and submission of the application.
The AI-based IT Platform will provide evaluators with data and insights about the proposed innovation. However, the evaluators are fully responsible for their evaluation of proposals.
The information to be shared will be limited to the identity of the CEO (First Name, Last Name), contact details (E-mail, Company name, Company address), abstract of the proposal and keywords used. This data should also include the ESR. The applicant will have to tick a box answering a question listing the information that should be shared withESIF Managing authorities and other public and/or private entities potentially interested in funding or supporting their company. The list of managing authorities is available at the Seal of Excellence website; and this link is provided to participants who are awarded the Seal of Excellence through the accompanying message. There is also a dedicated website with all contact details.
NCPs are an important element of the strategy for supporting European innovators, acting as connectors between the EIC and potential applicants in the different Member States.
Under Horizon Europe, greater collaboration is foreseen with NCPs, enabling them to follow-up on EIC-funded companies as well as those companies that are awarded the Seal of Excellence.
The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) will complement the support provided by NCPs, for example by identifying and encouraging more companies from widening countries and women led companies to apply, and to support Seal of Excellence companies to find alternative sources of funding.
EIC Community and Business Acceleration Services
Coaches will be vetted to appear on a list selectable for coaches. They must meet essential experience criteria that will be published in the new Call for Expression of Interest for EIC Coaches
The process to find and select a coach will be by:
- creating a shortlist of possible matches through individual selection criteria
- inviting them, explaining the main business challenge and including project information
- have ‘chemistry’ calls with those who responded to be available and interested, to make a final choice.
An EIC business coach – in face-to-face online setting - will mainly question your aspirations and challenge your assumptions. Our coaches will let you discover improvement opportunities and they have the task to let you learn and solve business development issues. Topics can cover the whole entrepreneurial venture, depending on your needs, from challenging the value proposition and business model, improving the strategy and investor business case, building the team, the leadership and processes, up to international expansion. The coaching support we offer is not compulsory to build a proposal, just strongly recommended. You will always remain fully responsible yourself for the content of your proposal. EIC coaching assignments cannot be instrumental for proposal writing or other consultancy activities.
The business development coaching is available for various EIC target groups and will be tailor made to deliver the desired outcome:
- For Accelerator applicants (full application stage) and Seal-of-Excellence teams, your objective may be to improve the value proposition and investor pitch.
- For Pathfinder researchers your objective may be to discover innovation opportunities and to provide insight in your entrepreneurship potential.
- For Transition teams your objective may be to get to know the industry and to create a value proposition.
- For Accelerator start-ups and scale-ups, your objective may be to improve your business plan, the strategy implementation and a faster market entry.
- In the Women Leadership Programme additional WLP Coaching is offered to help you tackle potential glass ceiling issues.
For Accelerator applicants and Seal-of-Excellence teams, three days of coaching are offered. For all further beneficiaries the starting offer of three coaching days may be extended on the recommendation of project officers and programme managers.
You will all receive an invitation to select a coach, as soon as you become eligible to the service.
Business Acceleration Services are tailored as much as possible to the EIC beneficiaries’ needs and aim to guarantee the best match possible with relevant business partners. This is why most offered EIC services will have a certain selection process based on specific criteria relevant to the specific event or service. If this is the case, the criteria and the selection process are announced in the event publication and/or the registration website. If there are no selection criteria, the event may also be based on a ‘first come first serve’ basis or an unlimited attendance approach. Please check out any details in this regard in the event publication (in the EIC Community). Please note as well that even if your grant or EIC funding is contractually finished you are still eligible and invited to apply to the EIC BAS services.
Business Acceleration Services form an integral part of the EIC programmes and are offered for free (in-kind) to eligible EIC funded projects and companies, Seal of Excellence as well as to innovators and companies coming from other European or national initiatives that have entered into a specific agreement with the EIC. Nevertheless, if the event or service requires travel or accommodation those are to be taken care of by the attendee. For the EIC funded companies and projects, there are possibilities to claim those costs under your current grant, please contact your project officer in this regard.
EIC BAS Global Offer is presented and available via the EIC Community. You will find there an event/service agenda and information relevant to application/expression of interest to participate in each individual BAS service. Access to some services like specific expertise and advice is triggered through the project review process or programme manager.
The EIC Community Platform is an exclusive, virtual business platform, where EIC innovators can connect and leverage potential business partnerships. It gathers all innovative companies and innovators funded under the European Innovation Council covering the EIC Accelerator, EIC Transition, EIC Pathfinder and Women TechEU programs, as well as coaches, national contact points, corporates, investors, procurers, staff of the EIC …and many more.
If you are...
- an EIC beneficiary (Accelerator, Pathfinder, Transition, Women TechEU), access a one-stop-shop to:
- Register to EIC Business Acceleration Services, such as the EIC Corporate Programme, EIC Investor Programme, EIC Procurers Programme, EIC Community Talks & Trainings;
- Get access to your event group for photos and videos or background information;
- Create a personal and company profile;
- Use the powerful search engine to find like minded companies;
- Explore business opportunities among EIC peers;
- Get exclusive access to ScaleUp EU, our matching platform with investors;
- Expand networks with EIC ecosystem partners;
- Share your experience and get support from peers via horizontal and thematic groups;
- Co-create ideas and knowledge;
- Promote interesting other events to the EIC Community;
To have access to these sections, you will be requested to log in using your EU Login username and password. If you do not have one, you can create your EU Login here. If you are funded by the European Innovation Council, it may be that your user profile has been already automatically registered. In this case, just log in with EU Login username and password and you are already in!
- not part of the internal EIC Network yet? Access the public side of the EIC Community Platform and find:
- The most relevant news, success stories, open calls and events promoted by the Business Acceleration Services are available outside the platform;
- Sharing options: spread the great news with your network: you can do it directly on your digital page.
General Conditions and Eligibility
No, you have to start the evaluation process from Step 1 Short Application. The AI-based IT platform will guide you through the whole submission process, as well as provide you with assessment of the different funding opportunities you may have at national and European level.
You may apply to several EIC calls at the same time as long as the same costs are not financed twice by the EU or national budget.
- If you decide to apply to both Pathfinder Open and Challenge calls, please make sure to adapt your proposals in line with the different objectives and evaluation criteria of the relevant call.
- For Transition, given the fact the EIC Transition Open and Challenge calls are opening at the same time, we strongly discourage to submit the same proposal to both calls.
- For the EIC Accelerator, you can only apply to one call at a time and must choose between the Open and the Challenges. You may apply to another EIC Accelerator call once you have received the evaluation results of the first submission.
You can apply for EIC funding if you have an ongoing grant as long as the same costs are not financed twice by the EU or national budget.
- For Pathfinder, please make sure that you explain in your proposal how your ongoing H2020 grant(s) relate to your current application.
- For Transition, please make sure to fulfil the eligibility conditions described in the Work Programme (e.g. applications should be based on results generated by eligible projects specified in the Work Programme).
- For the EIC Accelerator you cannot apply for funding if you have an ongoing EIC Accelerator/EIC Pilot/SME Instrument project. Exceptionally, if you have an ongoing grant-only project, you can apply for an investment only component under the EIC Accelerator.
At the date of the publication of the EIC 2021 work programme, there will be no countries associated to Horizon Europe yet. Association agreements will be negotiated over 2021. EFTA countries and UK should be swiftly associated, so that legal entities established in these countries can apply to the first calls for proposals. A legal entity based in a third country which is officially candidate for association to Horizon Europe is eligible; however, the signature of any grant agreement with such entity will be subject to the positive conclusion of the association negotiation, including to Horizon Europe’s third pillar. Such a negotiation result will be made public on the Commission's dedicated Horizon Europe website.
A legal entity based in a third country which is not candidate for association to Horizon Europe can apply as part of a consortia in which the minimum number of EU or Associated Country partners are present. This applies to EIC Pathfinder and Transition calls which are open for consortia.
A legal entity based in a third country which is not candidate for association to Horizon Europe can apply at the short application stage for the EIC Accelerator but must relocate or establish an eligible company in an EU Member State of Associated Country before receiving any support.
UK entities may participate in all parts and calls of the EIC funded by grants, including the Pathfinder scheme, Transition activities, and the grant only part of the EIC Accelerator.
For the EIC Accelerator, this means that UK start-ups and SMEs will be able to apply for the calls, but will only be able to request a “grant-only” support. UK entities will not be eligible to apply for “blended finance” (which combines a grant with an investment component) and UK entities already awarded a “grant-only” support will not be eligible for follow up equity investments.
UK entities that win EIC funding will also be eligible to receive Business Acceleration Services (coaching, mentoring, events, etc.), except these relating to access to investors.
To be able to apply, your company must prove its effective legal establishment in a Member State or an Associated Country (in this second case, including to Horizon Europe’s third pillar). Activities run in other countries are not taken into account to check your eligibility.
In case you develop R&I activities in a non-associated country, you may legally create a start-up in a Member State or an Associated Country by the time of submitting a full application. In case your company is already legally established in a non-associated country, you may relocate it to a Member State or an Associated Country, by the time of submitting a full application. The Commission may set specific conditions and milestones in the contract to ensure that the interest of the Union is met.
Fast Track Scheme & Pilot Plug-in Scheme to apply for the EIC Accelerator
Under the Fast Track scheme, applicants do not apply directly to the EIC Accelerator call. Instead, the responsible funding bodies identified in the Work Programme decide whether an existing project is suitable for support under the EIC Accelerator based on a project review to assess the innovation or market deployment potential of such project.
Initially, the funding bodies and schemes which are eligible for the Fast Track for Accelerator cut off dates in 2021 are the ones listed in Annex 4 to the 2021 Work Programme.
The Fast Track scheme referred to in Annex 4 to the Work Programme and the Fast Track to Research and Innovation (FTRI) referred to in Horizon Europe Regulation are two different things.
On the one hand, the FTRI is a procedure that may be applied to allow a faster, bottom-up access to funds for small collaborative consortia covering actions from fundamental research to market application. To this end, the FTRI may be proposed under some of the calls for proposals dedicated to select research and / or innovation actions Under the Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness and the European Innovation Council Pathfinder parts of the Framework Programme.
On the other hand, the Fast Track scheme stems from Article 43(5) of Horizon Europe Regulation. Its purpose is to allow eligible funding bodies to directly submit for evaluation under the last award criterion (Article 43(4)(c)) a proposal for an innovation and market deployment action which already fulfils the first two criteria, provided that cumulative conditions as set out in the Regulation, in the Specific Programme, and in the Work Programme are met.
The plug-in scheme will be implemented from the first EIC Accelerator cut-off in 2022 at the earliest. It will apply to regional and national public programmes – from member states and countries associated to Horizon Europe - that have been assessed by a group of experts and certified by the European Commission.
Intellectual Property provisions for EIC Pathfinder and Transition projects
Would an on-going negotiation with an entity be considered as demonstrating concrete exploitation?
Beneficiaries may not have to disclose underlying detailed data and results when they commit to publish, patent or protect their results or when they demonstrate concrete exploitation; i.e. plan a specific use of the results for commercial purposes that will lead to an update of the Plan for dissemination and exploitation.
Entering in negotiation may constitute a step towards exploitation but a concrete exploitation will have to be materialised through a written commitment by the entity.
The granting authority will impose penalties when the beneficiary “continues to oppose to the dissemination by the granting authority or refuses to provide any data or document necessary for the said dissemination.” Hence, the granting authority will not impose penalties if the beneficiary attempts to disseminate and provides the means to the granting authority to support the dissemination.
The context in non-for-profit entities and in for-profit entities is different in regards to the exploitation of the results or research findings. Indeed, exploitation may be an ancillary aim in non-for-profit entities. Therefore, the EIC provides for the necessary access rights for “the EIC inventor” where these are most needed to increase the probability that results are turned into innovation.