As a key novelty of new research and innovation framework Programme Horizon Europe, the European Commission launched the European Innovation Council (EIC) to provide support for emerging and breakthrough innovations by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, and midcaps (70% of the budget earmarked for SMEs) and announced the first calls of EIC over €1 billion! TAGES provides services and supports SMEs to develop EIC Projects.
The European Innovation Council is a one-stop shop for innovators. It provides support from early-stage scientific research on breakthrough technologies to transitioning research results into commercial opportunities, and the development and scaling up of innovative start-ups and SMEs.
There are 3 main areas under EIC:
- EIC Pathfinder: Developing novel ideas for radically new technologies (from early technology to pre-commercial)
- EIC Transition: Transforming research results into innovation opportunities (a bridge between advanced research outputs, their application and market and user needs)
- EIC Accelerator: Deployment of innovation to market (from pre-commercial to market & scale-up)
The EIC Accelerator focuses on scientific discoveries or technological breakthroughs, which need significant funding over a longer timeframe before returns can be generated. Such innovations often struggle to attract financing because the risks and time involved are generally too high. This funding enables the innovators to attract the full investment amounts that are needed to scale up in a shorter timeframe.
Unlike in the Horizon 2020;
- The new accelerator programme is Open to breakthrough innovations in any field
- There is a two-stage application process with 5 steps (Discovery/diagnostic modules, Short Application, Full Application, Submission and remote evaluation, Face to face interviews).
- Resubmissions are limited (If the application is rejected a second time, the applicant will not be allowed to resubmit a short application for 12 months)
- There are ‘Top-down’ (green deal, digital and health technologies) as well as ‘bottom-up’ calls for projects.
In the first calls, €495 million are earmarked for innovations that support the European Green Deal as well as digital and health technologies.
The EIC Accelerator acts as a catalyst to crowd in other investors necessary for amplifying the scale of the innovations and supports individual SMEs in particular Startups and spinout companies to develop and scale up game-changing innovations. In some cases, small mid-caps (up to 500 employees) are supported. A unique financing model offers grants of up to €2.5 million combined with equity investments through the EIC Fund ranging from €500,000 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.
The EIC Pathfinder programme supports the exploration of bold ideas for radically new technologies. It welcomes the high-risk/high gain and interdisciplinary cutting-edge science collaborations that underpin technological breakthroughs. Applicants participating in EIC Pathfinder projects are typically visionary scientists, entrepreneurial researchers and, research organisations, start-ups, high-tech SMEs and industrial stakeholders interested in technological research and innovation.
Grants of up to 3 to 4 million euro support early-stage development of future technologies (e.g. various activities at low Technology Readiness Levels 1-3), up to proof of concept. Pathfinder projects can also receive additional funding for testing the innovation potential of their research outputs.
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