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European Innovation Council

Call for expression of interest for establishing a list of EIC business coaches

1. Contracting authority

European Innovation council and Small and Medium-sized enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA).
Unit E-02, EIC Transition Activities and Business Acceleration Services, COV2 03/088, B-1049 Brussels.

Email: EISMEA-COACHINGatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (EISMEA-COACHING[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)

The objective of this call is to set up a list of independent external experts, hereafter called ‘EIC business coaches’.

2. EIC mission

The European Innovation Council (‘EIC’) aims at identifying and supporting breakthrough technologies and innovations with the potential to scale up internationally and become market leading. It supports all stages of innovation from R&D to validation and demonstration of breakthrough technologies and innovations to meet real world needs, to the development and scaling up of start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Financial support is provided through three main instruments: the ‘Pathfinder’ for advanced research on breakthrough technologies; ‘Transition’ for transforming research results into innovation opportunities; and the ‘Accelerator’ for individual companies to develop and scale up breakthrough innovations with high risk and high impact.

All EIC funded projects and companies, as well as applicants invited to submit a full application and Seal of Excellence companies, have access to Business Acceleration Services providing coaching, access to expertise, corporates, investors and ecosystem actors.

3. The objectives of coaching

For the EIC, the coaching service is a means to increase the chances of successful accomplishment of the innovation projects. Business coaching shall empower the coachees to develop and successfully implement high growth strategies based on successful participation in Horizon Europe. Ninety-five percent of innovation failure comes from poor strategy and leadership.

The EIC coaching service will empower the coachee to establish a compelling strategy, face hurdles preventing its development and create a growth plan to bring confidence to the coachee.

The impact is especially high when coaches bring learnings from their own business development experience. Successful coaching demonstrates impact to avoid mistakes, to consider new options and networks, to improve strategy and to go-to-market faster. Coaching aims to equip the coachee with the necessary skills and means to ensure commercial success and growth.

4. Coachee target groups

The EIC business coaching is available for various target groups and will be tailor made to deliver the desired outcome for each of them: 

  • For Accelerator applicants (2nd stage) and Seal-of-Excellence teams, the objective is to improve the value proposition, business plan and investor pitch.
  • For Pathfinder researchers the objective is to discover innovation opportunities and to provide insight in the entrepreneurship potential.
  • For Transition teams the objective is to analyse the industry and to create a value proposition.
  • For Accelerator start-ups and scale-ups, the objective is to improve the business plan, the strategy implementation and a faster market entry.
  • In the Women Leadership Program (WLP), we offer additional WLP coaching to help leaders tackle potential glass ceiling issues.

5. Coaching activities and way of working

EIC business coaches have the task to discover improvement opportunities together with their coachee and have the responsibility to let them actually learn and solve complicated business development issues. Coaching topics cover the entire entrepreneurial venture from discovering or 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.

Contrary to consultants, who merely provide requested information, a coach will mainly question aspirations and challenge assumptions, in a face-to-face setting. Based on an agreed coaching plan, the coachee will learn how to approach challenges, how to build strategic partnerships and how to discover new options.

EIC coaching assignments cannot be instrumental for proposal writing or other consultancy activities.

Accepting an EIC coaching assignment, implies accepting the Impartiality and Confidentiality clauses from the Code of Conduct.

6. Selection criteria

Essential experience and qualifications:

We are looking for coaches with proven business development experience and entrepreneurial and/or investment background in early stage SME environment.
EIC business coaches need to have at least five years of proven professional experience:

  • as entrepreneur or core team member, with business development in a start-up/SME
  • as investor or board advisor, helping start-ups/SMEs develop new business
  • in executive management, responsible to start new business and serve new markets
  • raising capital and high risk investment for industrial innovation
  • coaching/mentoring senior management for business development 
  • demonstrating hands-on experience with fast growth
  • resolving executive management issues in early stage SME context
  • demonstrating a personal network of international contacts with businesses and markets

Applicants shall not mandatorily tick all the boxes, as we encourage diversity in the pool of coaches. Proof of the professional experience may be requested.

Essential Skills and competences:

  • Trust building. empathetic, credible, independent and patient
  • Curious, inquisitive, analytical, challenging, questioning, not advising
  • Facilitating, friendly but pertinent, pragmatic
  • Coaches must demonstrate thorough understanding of 
    • Value proposition development
    • Validation of the offer
    • Go-to-Market steps
    • People management
    • Partnerships strategy
    • Finance and investment readiness
    • Organisational development
    • Supply chain and distribution

7. Exclusion criteria

Applicant coaches shall be excluded from participation if:

(a) the applicant is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures, its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, it is in an arrangement with creditors, its business activities are suspended, or it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under EU or national laws or regulations;

(b) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the applicable law;

(c) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the applicant belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:

(i) fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of eligibility or selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;

(ii) entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;

(iii) violating intellectual property rights;

(iv) attempting to influence the decision-making process of the Agency during the award procedure;

(v) attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the award procedure;

(d) it has been established by a final judgment that the applicant is guilty of any of the following:

(i) fraud, within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;

(ii) corruption, as defined in Article 4(2) of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 or Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, or conduct referred to in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, or corruption as defined in the applicable law;

(iii) conduct related to a criminal organisation, as referred to in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;

(iv) money laundering or terrorist financing within the meaning of Article 1(3), (4) and (5) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council;

(v) terrorist offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;

(vi) child labour or other offences concerning trafficking in human beings as referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;

(e) the applicant has shown significant deficiencies in complying with main obligations in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision financed by the Union's budget, which has led to its early termination or to the application of liquidated damages or other contractual penalties, or which has been discovered following checks, audits or investigations by an authorising officer, OLAF or the Court of Auditors;

(f) it has been established by a final judgment or final administrative decision that the applicant has committed an irregularity within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95;

(g) It has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that the applicant has created an entity in a different jurisdiction with the intent to circumvent fiscal, social or any other legal obligations of mandatory application in the jurisdiction of its registered office, central administration or principal place of business;

(h) it has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that an entity has been created with the intent referred to in point (g);

(i) for the situations referred to in points (c) to (h) above, the applicant is subject to:

(i) facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by European Public Prosecutor's Office after its establishment, the Court of Auditors, the European Anti-Fraud Office or the internal auditor, or any other check, audit or control performed under the responsibility of an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body;

(ii) non-final judgments or non-final administrative decisions which may include disciplinary measures taken by the competent supervisory body responsible for the verification of the application of standards of professional ethics;

(iii) facts referred to in decisions of persons or entities being entrusted with EU budget implementation tasks;

(iv) information transmitted by Member States implementing Union funds;

(v) decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of Union competition law or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law; or

(vi) decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body.

8. Matching and selection process

Coachees will search in the coach database, indicating their market and industry context, their most acute business development topics and biggest challenge. A thus created shortlist of coaches with matching profiles is then invited to express their availability and interest to take the case. The coachee will choose a few responders for an ‘acquaintance and chemistry call’ to make a final selection. Before the assignment, coach and coachee will agree on a coaching plan containing the objectives and activities. Upon receipt and approval of the coaching plan, EISMEA will prepare the EIC coaching contract with the coach.

Before signing a contract, coaches shall provide a declaration on their honour stating that they are not in one of the situations of exclusion listed in point 7.

Notwithstanding any preliminary agreement between the coach and the coachee, no contract will be issued if:

  • the coach is already registered as expert evaluator for EIC proposals; or
  • EISMEA considers that there is a conflict of interest that may compromise the impartial and objective selection of coachee and/or provision of business acceleration services for reasons involving economic interest, political or national affinity, family or emotional ties or any other shared interest.

9. Remuneration

Business coaches shall be remunerated at a fixed price of EUR 1 000 per day worked. The coaching for second stage applicants and Seal of Excellence holders is taking place remotely. For other cases and when applicable, travel and subsistence expenses will be reimbursed under the conditions set out in the contract.

10. Protection of personal data

If processing your expression of interest involves the recording and processing of personal data (such as your name, address and CV), such data will be processed pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies and agencies and on the free movement of such data. Unless indicated otherwise, your reply to this call and any personal data requested are required for the purposes of this call and will be processed solely for those purposes by the contracting authority indicated in point 1, which is also acting as data controller.

Details concerning the processing of your personal data are available on the privacy statement.

Your personal data may be registered in the Early Detection and Exclusion System (EDES) should the beneficiary be in one of the situations mentioned in Articles 136 and 141 of the EU Financial Regulation (EU) 2018/10461 (for more information see the Privacy Statement.

11. Expectation of inclusion in the database of EIC business coaches

Your potential inclusion in the list of selectable EIC business coaches depends on:

  • the evident need among coachees for a specific experience profile
  • rotation of coaches for refreshment of the selection pool
  • the acceptance of your qualifications and experience profile regarding the set criteria
  • the rated impact of your coaching interventions according to coachees when applicable

12. Quality assurance

EIC coaches commit themselves to deliver the business coaching services with high professional standards and to treat their clients with respects. The EIC is responsible to safeguard the quality of the service provision and to do so EIC may ask for feedback to coachees on both the quality of the work and the personal behaviour of the coaches. Evaluations of the coaches’ performance may be organised periodically or on ad hoc cases. The outcome of these evaluations might result in the exclusion of coaches from the EIC database if their performance is deemed not sufficiently high for the EIC standards.

13. Application and Registration procedure – information and documents to be provided

Expressions of interest must be submitted using EIC Coach platform. You are required to indicate your specific industry and market experience, to issue an executive summary and keywords and upload a CV in PDF format, all in English language.

Separately you are required to register as a Horizon Europe expert on the Expert page.

Inclusion on the list of EIC business coaches entails no obligation for the contracting authority to conclude contracts. The EIC business coaches will perform their tasks within the framework of the Horizon Europe European Innovation Council (C(2021)1510 Commission Implementing Decision, 17-03-2021).

14. Expiry date of the list resulting from this call for expressions of interest

The list of EIC business coaches resulting from this notice is valid for the duration of the multi-annual programme Horizon Europe. Interested individuals may submit an expression of interest at any time prior to the last three months of validity of the list.

15. Ex-post transparency

The list of coaches who have concluded one or several contracts of (a cumulative amount of) more than EUR 15 000 awarded following the procedure set out above, shall be published on the website of the contracting authority no later than 30 June of the year following contract award. These details include name, locality (region of origin for natural persons), amount and subject of the contract. For natural persons, the information shall be removed two years after the year of contract award.

16. Date of publication

Date of publication is ​​​1 April, 2021.