Since its launch in March 2021, significant progress has been made in implementing the European Innovation Council (EIC) building on the successful pilot stage (2018-20). Since March 2021, over 4000 start-ups have applied to the EIC Accelerator and a first set of 164 companies have been selected for funding up to now. The EIC Pathfinder and Transition programmes have also been successfully launched with strong demand, and the new governance with the EIC Board established.
One of the main novelties of the EIC is the combination of grant and investment support through the EIC Accelerator. This approach was successfully tested in the past year under the EIC pilot. The implementation arrangements for the investment component for the fully-fledged EIC under Horizon Europe are currently being put in place. In the meantime:
- The requests for investments for companies already selected for equity funding in 2021 (June and October cut-offs) will continue to be treated by providing the grant finance and undertaking all the preparatory work for the investments, including proceeding with the due diligence work as soon as possible;
- The next cut-off for full applications to the EIC Accelerator is now planned this spring, subject to adoption of the EIC work programme 2022 which is expected in the coming weeks. This will allow additional time for applicants to prepare high quality proposals and ensure that, following the selection process, we will be able to proceed in due time with the investment process.
Once fully operational under Horizon Europe, the implementation modalities for EIC equity financing will have a legal and financial basis until 2027, enabling it to make investment decisions and provide attractive investment partners for Europe’s high potential start-ups and to crowd in other investors. This builds on the first positive experiences from the 141 investments approved by the EIC Fund since September 2020.
The EIC Accelerator offers start-ups and SMEs grants of up to €2.5 million combined with equity investments through the EIC Fund ranging from €0.5 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, investors and ecosystem actors.
A new start-up friendly application process has been introduced in 2021, under Horizon Europe, where companies can submit their ideas at any time for an immediate fast assessment. Successful candidates are invited to prepare a full application with the help of tailored-made business coaching. The full applications are then evaluated at regular cut-off dates approximately every 3 months. Since March over 4,000 start-ups and SMEs have sent their ideas, of which 801 presented full applications to the first cut-off on 16 June 2021 and a further 1109 to the second cut-off on 6 October. In addition, the first EIC Summit took place on 24/25 November with notably the launch of the EIC Forum and the delivery of the first EIC Prizes (Women Innovators, European Capital of Innovation and EU Innovation Procurement Awards) and recruitments are ongoing for the first EIC Board President and EIC Programme Managers.
- Publication date
- 7 January 2022