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European Innovation Council
News article23 June 20224 min read

European Innovation Council (EIC) – EIC Accelerator implementation back on track amid continued strong interest

The European Commission approved the payment of 20 grants to companies selected for blended finance under the EIC Accelerator in June 2021, with a further 7 to follow before the end of the month. Together with the announcement of the first direct equity investment in French company SiPearl on 14 June 2022, it marks an important step towards normalisation of the EIC Accelerator implementation, after delays due to restructuring of the EIC Fund. Applications for the EIC Accelerator in the June 2022 cut-off remain strong, signaling a continued interest and relevance of the instrument.

Taking account of the strong need to improve the speed of implementation of EIC Accelerator funding, the EIC Board has today published a revised set Strategic Goals and Key Performance Indicators for EIC including goals for operational excellence. 

EIC Accelerator state of implementation

The EIC Accelerator, with a unique offer of grants, blended finance and equity investments, has proven to be of high interest for start-ups and SMEs since its launch in March 2021. However, due to the need of the EIC Fund restructuring under the provisions of the Horizon Europe legislation, the EIC Accelerator scheme experienced delays in the signature of grant and investment agreements for companies selected in 2021.

After the first equity investment announced on 14 June 2022, further investments will follow once the current restructuring of the EIC Fund is completed with the appointment of an external fund manager of the EIC Fund in the coming weeks. All delayed grant decisions for companies that requested blended finance from the 2021 cut-offs are now expected to be taken by the end of summer.

With the new arrangements in place, the time for implementing the grants and investment support for companies selected by the EIC Accelerator will be progressively reduced in order to meet the needs of fast-moving technology start-ups. A full overview of the state of implementation of companies selected under all cut-offs is available in the background section.

Strong level of applications for EIC Accelerator scheme under the June 2022 cut-off

The European Innovation Council received 986 full applications from start-ups and SMEs for the EIC Accelerator June 15 cut-off.  This  shows a continued strong level of interest and underlines the relevance of the scheme. 74% of applications submitted requests for funding under the EIC Accelerator Open. Blended finance continues to be in high demand. 638 companies (65% of total applicants) requested grants combined with equity investments. 158 companies asked for grants only and 190 companies applied for grants first, with a possibility of equity investments at a later stage.

16.5% of the total proposals were submitted by companies with female CEOs. The applicants come from 36 different countries, with the highest number of participants coming from Germany (110), Israel (87), Italy (85) and Spain (81). The amount of applications from widening countries is increasing, notably from Poland (29).

Proposals are now being evaluated by independent experts. Successful companies will then be invited to pitch in front of a jury of investors and business experts in September, with selection decisions expected in October.

EIC Board: Setting up strategic goals for the future

Since the EIC’s launch, the EIC Board encouraged the speedy completion of the restructuring of the EIC Fund while maintaining continuity from the successful EIC pilot. Looking ahead and in light of the experience from the EIC pilot, in mid-June 2022 the Board has revised upwards and enlarged the strategic goals for the EIC for the period 2021-27 and the underpinning Key Performance Indicators. They recommend six strategic goals, with associated key performance indicators, in order to provide clear direction, track progress, and guide implementation and potential new actions. The Key Performance Indicators set clear targets for the EIC’s ambitions as investor of choice, crowding in investment, pulling through high-risk investment, increasing European scale-ups, catalysing innovation impacts and in terms of operational excellence (first grant payments within 4-5 months of application to the EIC and for the EIC Fund to agree to investment term sheets within 8 weeks).

Background information: State of the implementation of the EIC Accelerator

For the June 2021 cut-off, 64 companies were selected for funding following the evaluation of the full applications:

  • 29 companies requested grant-only or grant-first support. All of them have had their contracts signed except for one SME that is reflecting on it. 27 of the related pre-financings have been paid. Companies receive their first payment within 10 days after grant signature.
  • 31 companies requested blended finance, including a grant component and equity investment. First 17 grants have been signed. For the equity investment component of these 31 companies, and the 4 companies selected for equity-only, the signature of most of the investment agreements will start in the summer and will continue to take place until the end of the year.

In the October 2021 cut-off, 99 companies were selected for support:

  • 34 companies have requested grant-only or grant-first support. 9 contracts have been signed and the majority of remaining ones are planned to be signed in July.  
  • 1 of the 61 companies selected for blended finance signed the grant and investment agreement. The remaining companies’ signature of their grant component is planned in July and the signatures of most of the 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.

After March 2022 cut-off, 74 companies were selected for funding following the evaluation of their full application. They have already received invitation letters to start negotiations.

  • 36 companies requested grant only or grant first options. 38 requested blended finance and equity only. In most cases, the companies will receive the grant financing within the 5-8  months, while the finalisation of the equity investment is expected during the autumn.

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Publication date
23 June 2022