Since the launch of the European Innovation Council (EIC) in March 2021, the EIC Accelerator has proven to be of high interest to start-ups, providing a unique offer of grants, blended finance or equity investments. While the delays have largely been overcome in the signing of contracts and providing pre-financing to companies that requested grant-only or grant-first support from the June 2021 cut-off, there are further unforeseen delays in the decision-making concerning companies requesting blended finance or equity-only investments. The EIC is fully aware of, and regrets the impact that these delays can have on companies.
The delays are the result of the need to restructure the EIC Fund following the provisions of the Horizon Europe legislation and drawing the lessons from the pilot. The Commission is proceeding with the implementation of the necessary changes. This includes negotiations with an external fund manager of the EIC Fund. These negotiations should be concluded by 30 June 2022 at the latest.
In the meantime, the Commission is finalizing its decision-making procedure for the grant and equity components to companies selected for blended finance during the 2021 cut-offs. The conclusion of the contract with the companies for the grant component of blended finance will follow within a couple of days after the decision-making procedure is concluded, and the payment of a pre-financing of the grant is expected to be disbursed one week later. The investment decision by the EIC Fund for the equity component will be taken a few weeks or months later, depending on the outcome of the due diligence. In the case of urgent investment decisions, it will be possible for the EIC Fund to take investment decisions before the agreement with the external fund manager is concluded.
The new implementation modalities will not impact the risk-taking approach of the EIC. The outcome will remain to support high-risk projects that are not yet sufficiently attractive for private investors, also considering the scale of the investments required, with the aim to de-risk such projects through the EIC grant component and catalyze private investment thanks to the leverage provided by the investment component of the EIC blended finance.
As of 13 May 2022, the state of the implementation of the EIC Accelerator is as follows:
For the June 2021 cut-off, 65 companies were selected for funding following the evaluation of their full application.
- Of these 65 companies, 29 requested grant-only or grant-first support. 23 of these companies have had their contracts signed and related pre-financings have been paid. Contracts for the remaining 6 grant-only or grant-first companies are expected to be signed before the end of May.
- 31 companies requested blended finance, including a grant component and equity investment. The grant component of these companies is expected by early June 2022. For the equity investment component of these 31 companies, and the 5 companies selected for equity-only, the signature of the investment agreement is likely to happen after June.
In the October 2021 cut-off, 99 companies were selected for support.
- 34 companies have requested grant-only or grant-first support. 1 contract has been signed and the remaining ones are planned to be signed (also dependent on the input of the beneficiaries) over the course of May and June.
- Of the 61 companies selected for blended finance, the signature of their grant component is planned in July 2022 and the signatures of investment agreements for the equity component will start in the summer and will continue to take place until the end of the year. For 4 equity-only projects from this cut-off the same timeline applies for the investment component.
As the new procedures are put in place, the time for implementing the grants and investment decisions will improve progressively. The selection procedure for the companies that have submitted full proposals for the March 2022 cut-off is taking place now, with results expected to be announced in June 2022, and both grants and investments during the autumn.
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. Companies working on technologies of strategic European interest can apply for investments of more than €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 (less than four weeks). 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.
- Publication date
- 13 May 2022