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The EIC programme 2021-2027

In an effort to strengthen the European area, the European Commission appears to be ready to take all investments to the next level. With the implementation of European projects under massive financial frameworks such as Horizon 2020 and its heir Horizon Europe, we can see a massive change happening.

After the crisis of the Coronavirus Covid-19, all investments appear to be turning towards innovative projects that can play a game-changing role in the European area. The aim is to create a sustainable and human-centric digital future. All of that following the European Innovation Council Board.

The EIC Programme

Under this premise, the EIC programme is entering a new era. Funded under Horizon 2020 and soon Horizon Europe, the EIC Board made up by leading entrepreneurs, researchers investors and innovation experts are pointing out the importance of the programme to become as they call it “the investor of choice for visionary ideas, pioneering a new European approach to support relevant innovations in a responsible and inclusive way”.

The programme EIC Accelerator, previously known as SME Instrument, launched its pilot phase in October 2017. It was followed by a reinforced pilot in March 2019. The aim of the second pilot was the effective funding of more exiting innovation that include researchers startups and scaleup companies.

The 2021-2027 funding

With the “Covid-19 battlefield” slowly clearing EIC is taking the next step. For the years 2021-2027 EIC is scheduled to receive a total of €30-50 billion from the private market, and ‘radically transform tech investments and company growth across Europe.

“I welcome the vision of the EIC advisory board, which is the key roadmap as we prepare for the launch of the EIC from 2021. We have seen significant demand to date for EIC funding – over €10 billion in the last month – this clearly demonstrates how important it is to support high-impact innovation during the coronavirus recovery period and beyond.”

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

It is important to note that the EIC Board pays special attention to the deep-tech interdisciplinary research and entrepreneurship while at the same time aiming for simplicity. It also focuses on high-class mentoring and advice for successful applicants.

The funding has begun and as of April 30th 2020, another €150 million have been added to EIC to support game-changing innovations that will tackle the coronavirus crisis. That funding is set to fund the best start-ups and SMEs that have applied for under the March cut-off.

Supporting action towards combating Covid-19

Building on that, the Commission will also award high-quality coronavirus relevant applications that will not be funded by the €150 million aiming to support their financing using alternative sources. All companies selected to be funded under the EIC programme will be announced in late May.

During March a record number of 4000 startups and SMEs applied to the EIC Accelerator pilot. More than 1000 of them focus on innovations that will help combat the coronavirus outbreak. The remote evaluation of all the applicants has been completed. The second phase, the interview phase will start on May 11th and will be completed on May 20th 2020.

For the years 2018 to 2020 a budget of €3 billion will be provided to fund high-quality innovations and the most talented innovators to help their companies scale up and expand beyond the European borders.

The EIC funding tools

Four funding tools are at the disposal of all applicants, to aid them in the process of applying for funding.

EIC Pathfinder Pilot:

The EIC Pathfinder Pilot comprises FET-Open and FET-Proactive and offers grants of up to €4 million to promote collaborative, inter-disciplinary research and innovation on science-inspired and radically new future technologies. These grants are for consortia of at least 3 entities from 3 different Members States and associated countries.

The scheme features ‘targeted calls’ based on topics or challenges identified in the Work Programme along with an open bottom-up call for proposals. These topics include:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • implantable autonomous devices and materials
  • breakthrough zero-emissions energy generation for full decarbonization

The EIC Pathfinder pilot has a total budget of around €660 million for 2019-2020.

EIC Accelerator Pilot:

The EIC Accelerator Pilot builds on the SME Instrument Phase II and provides grant-only support as well as support in the form of blended finance (combining grant and equity).

The scheme supports high-risk, high-potential small and medium-sized innovative enterprises willing to develop and commercialize new products, services, and business models that could drive economic growth and shape new markets or disrupt existing ones in Europe and worldwide.

Applicants for funding must be established in an EU Member State or a Horizon 2020 associated country. Following the cut-off date of 5 June 2019, only individual for-profit SMEs established in an EU Members State or a Horizon 2020 associated country will be able to apply for funding.

The EIC Accelerator pilot has a total budget of more than €1.3 billion for 2019-2020.

Fast Track to Innovation (FTI)

This scheme is for relatively mature ground-breaking technologies, concepts, and business models that are close to the market.

Proposals must come from consortia of 3 to 5 legal entities who want to see quick market uptake of new technologies. Grants of up to €3 million may be awarded.

  • For-profit entities will receive 70% co-financing
  • Not-for-profit entities will receive 100% co-financing

Fast Track to Innovation has a total budget of around €300 million for 2018-2020.

EIC Horizon Prizes

The EIC Horizon Prizes are awarded to whoever can most effectively meet a defined challenge, without prescribing how that challenge should be solved. These will boost breakthrough innovation across sectors by fostering cutting-edge solutions that bring major benefits to citizens and society.

Individual prizes amount to 5 or 10 million euros.

The total budget for EIC Horizon Prizes until 2020 is €40 million.

Innovative partnerships will be formed under the EIC programme that will shape the future of funding for startups and SMEs in the European Area. Stay tuned for more news and information on all the latest by the European Commission.


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Thodoris Alexandrou
Director of Marketing Team & Financial Officer

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