The European Innovation Council (EIC) is part of the broader Horizon Europe programme. Like everything connected with Horizon Europe (formerly Horizon 2020), the EIC has announced a new working programme for the period 2021-2027.
The various grants of the EIC were previously known as the SME instruments, Fast Track to Innovation (FTI), and Future and Emerging Technologies (FET), The programmes have now taken on new names:
- EIC Pathfinder Open
- EIC Transition Open
- EIC Accelerator Open
- EIC Pathfinder Challenges
- EIC Transition Challenges
- EIC Accelerator Challenges
As is evident from the above, the calls are divided into open calls, and strategic challenges. The open calls in particular are new to this funding instrument and allow projects to tackle any relevant topic. Whilst, the challenges focus on specific technological and innovation breakthroughs related to the EU priorities for transitioning to a green, digital, and healthy society. In addition to the Green Deal, the Recovery Plan for Europe in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is an important focus.
The goal of the EIC instruments has remained the same: to identify and support breakthrough technologies and innovations with the potential to scale up and become (international) market leaders. There is an instrument for each TRL level (from R&D work, to validation and demonstration). Staying true to its old name, the EIC continues to support the development and scaling up of start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The 2021-2027 programme has a total budget of €10 billion. Below, you read more about the different instruments. As can be observed below, the first deadlines are in May this year.
Whilst we find it important to provide an overview, specific rules related to blended financing models and the specific EIC challenges exceed this scope. If you would like to know more, we are keen to provide you with the appropriate information.
For all of the calls indicated below, the evaluation criteria are:
- Quality and efficiency of implementation.
However, for each call we have highlighted specific criteria that are of particular importance.
EIC Pathfinder Open
This call is intended to realise an ambitious vision for radically new technology with the potential to create new markets and/or to address global challenges. The expected outcome of the project is proof of principle of the envisioned future technology, thus validating its scientific and technological basis. Technologies should be between TRL 1 and 4.
Who Can Apply?
Interdisciplinary consortia, comprising at least 3 legal entities from 3 different Member or Associated States. At least 1 of these entities must be located in a Member State.
The total budget is €168 million. Per project, a budget of €3 million is considered reasonable. The grant percentage is 100%.
Of specific importance we highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the proposal; science-towards-technology breakthrough; and a sound communication and dissemination plan.
19 May 2021
EIC Transition Open
This instrument is specifically intended to help further Pathfinder, FET or ERC Proof of Concept project results, bringing them to maturity, validating them, and increasing their market-readiness. This means you prototype and test your technology in relevant application environments, and build a business case and model for future commercialisation. The aim is to reach TRL levels 5-6.
Who Can Apply?
This instrument is intended for diverse, entrepreneur-led teams. You may apply as an individual SME, but also as a small interdisciplinary consortium of two, three, four or five partners.
The total budget is €59.6 million. Per project, a budget of €2.5 million is considered reasonable. The grant percentage is 100%.
Of specific importance we highlight technological breakthrough; business and market fit; social and economic benefits; and milestones and work plan.
22 September 2021
EIC Accelerator Open
This instrument is intended to help SMEs with a high-impact innovative product, service, or business model to overcome the valley of death and scale up. The aim is to create new markets or disrupt existing ones in Europe, and even worldwide. The product, service, or model has to have TRL 5/6 or higher.
Who Can Apply?
This call is open for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as ‘small mid-cap’ companies with up to 500 employees. For this last category, however, TRL levels must be 9. In addition, also if you want to set up a start-up for the purpose of accelerating your technology, you can apply. Whilst the start-up must be located in a Member or Associated State, applicants can also be from non-associated third countries.
The total budget is €592.5 million. Per project, a budget between €0.5 and €17 million is considered reasonable. Funding is divided into an investment and a grant component, the latter of which comprises 70% (following a blended funding model).
Of specific importance we highlight the market-creating nature of the project; intellectual property plan; scale-up potential; market fit and competitor analysis; commercialisation strategy; and the risk level of the investment.
Short applications, comprising a 5-page form; 10-slide PowerPoint presentation; and 3-minute pitch, can be submitted at any date, from 8 April onwards. Having completed the short application successfully, applicants have a year to submit the full proposal.
The first deadline for full applications is 9 June 2021; the next one will be 6 October 2021.
EIC Pathfinder Challenges
This grant is intended for new technological solutions at an early stage of development that are new and disrupt standard practice. In addition, these solutions must meet one of the following, pre-defined challenges:
- Awareness and consciousness in Artificial Intelligence
- Medical tools to measure and stimulate activity in brain tissue
- Emerging technologies in cell and gene therapy
- Novel routes to green hydrogen production
- Engineered living materials (ELMs)
Who Can Apply?
This call is open for both single entities and consortia of at least two independent legal entities. In case of a single applicant, mid-caps and larger companies are exempt from applying.
The total budget is €132 million. Per project, a budget of €4 million is considered reasonable. The grant percentage is 100%.
Of specific importance we highlight the project’s relevance to the challenge; potential impact; innovation potential; quality of the work plan; and a sound communication and dissemination plan.
27 October 2021
EIC Transition Challenges
This instrument is intended to further the outstanding results of an ongoing or recently finished project in the specific area of the two specific challenges below. The aim is to bring groundbreaking innovations towards market uptake for specific applications. The call is currently only intended for the results of projects funded by EIC pilot Pathfinder, Horizon 2020 FET-Open, FET-Proactive, FET Flagships, and ERC Proof of Concept. The challenges are:
- Medical technology and devices: From lab to patient
- Energy harvesting and storage technologies
Who Can Apply?
The call is open to single SMEs or research organisations; or for small consortia comprising between 3 and 5 partners.
The total budget is €40.5 million. Per project, a budget of €2.5 million is considered reasonable. The grant percentage is 100%.
The same evaluation criteria as for the EIC Transition Open call apply.
22 September 2021
EIC Accelerator Challenges
The aim is to scale up high-impact innovations with the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing ones in one of the areas indicated below. Focus is on deep tech, and projects that need a long timeframe of funding before returns can be generated. Importantly, technologies cannot be harmful to the environment or social welfare, nor can they be intended for military applications only. The following challenges have been identified:
- Strategic digital and health technologies
- Green Deal innovations for economic recovery (after COVID-19)
Who Can Apply?
This call is intended for individual companies, from start-ups to SMEs. More specific information is supplied for each of the challenges identified above.
The total budget is between €494.76 and €496.76 million. Per project, a maximum budget of €15 million is envisoned. Again, multiple types of blended financing are available.
The same evaluation criteria as for the EIC Accelerator Open call apply.
Like for the EIC Accelerator Open, short applications, comprising a 5-page form; 10-slide PowerPoint presentation; and 3-minute pitch, can be submitted at any date. The first deadline for full applications is 9 June 2021; the next one will be 6 October 2021.
We are also on LinkedIn!