The Fast Track scheme (the ‘Fast Track’) is a novelty under Horizon Europe which allows funding bodies managing other parts of the Horizon Europe programme to submit projects directly to the full application stage of the EIC Accelerator subject to a review of the ongoing project.
The current funding bodies that are implementing the Fast Track are Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) for selected funding schemes and EISMEA for EIC Pathfinder and Transition projects.
If you are a company supported by an EIT you can check the website of the KIC to see which of their funding schemes are eligible for the Fast Track and how to apply. At a first phase in 2022, each KIC is limited to a maximum of 20 companies to submit to the Fast Track.
If you are a participant in an Pathfinder or Transition project (including recently completed projects) and are interested in the Fast Track you can contact your Project Officers (POs) using the messaging facility of the Funding & tenders portal (which will also work for closed projects).
Pilot Plug-in scheme
The pilot Plug-in scheme is a novelty under Horizon Europe and a specific scheme applicable only to the EIC Accelerator. Its process is equivalent to the one of the Fast-track scheme, except that it applies to applications that result from existing national or regional programmes.
Under the Plug-in scheme, applicants do not apply directly to the EIC Accelerator call. Instead, a project review at national or regional level is carried out to assess the innovation or market deployment potential of an existing project, to decide whether the project is suitable for support under the EIC Accelerator.
The project review implemented by the funding/managing body responsible must be conducted using:
• equivalent award criteria as set out for the short application stage of the EIC Accelerator, centred on the underlying idea of that potential new action;
• equivalent evaluation processes guaranteeing an independent assessment of proposals in compliance with Art. 48 of the Horizon Europe Rules for Participation.
The responsible funding/managing body can submit the successful outcome of the projects review to the EIC Accelerator, if the project review concludes that the following conditions are met:
- the applicant meets the eligibility criteria for the EIC Accelerator,
- the proposal meets the two first award criteria of the EIC Accelerator (excellence and impact),
- the proposal stems from a project supported by the funding/managing body responsible, and
- there is no duplication of funding of activities and costs to be supported under the EIC Accelerator with the existing grant allocated at national or regional level.
Applicants will then be invited to prepare a full application for the EIC Accelerator to one of the cut-off dates within the next 12 months following project review. They will receive support through the EIC artificial intelligence based IT platform and coaching services. Applicants may decide to which eligible cut-off they apply. Full applications to the EIC Accelerator stemming from the Plug-in scheme will be assessed and treated exactly the same way as all other full applications.
Group of experts
In autumn 2021, the Commission appointed a group of independent experts to assess the national or regional programmes submitted by the Members States and Associated Countries to Horizon Europe for the EIC plug-in pilot. The objective of group of experts was to assess these programmes, their related national or regional evaluation procedures, and whether their project review is equivalent to the assessment of proposals under the EIC Accelerator.
The Commission will certify which programmes are suitable for the pilot plug-in scheme based on the experts’ assessment. Results will be available soon.
The Plug-in scheme was launched in September 2021 and received 52 applications from national programmes. The results of the certification process will be available soon and will be published on this website.