Horizon Europe funds innovative and breakthrough project ideas through the European Innovation Council (EIC). In the Accelerator instrument, funding can be given to support the whole process from demonstration to market launch and break-even.
The programme is aimed at companies, especially start-ups and SMEs, to scale up high impact innovations with the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing ones, with ambition for high growth and internationalization. The instrument is open to innovations in any field of technology or application, which are still considered too high-risk for private investors to fund. It is particularly relevant for so-called deep tech innovations building on scientific discoveries or technological breakthroughs and where significant funding is needed over a long timeframe before returns can be generated.
EIC Accelerator funding is based on a combination of a grant with an equity (or other non-grant) investment from the EIC into the applying SME. The combined investment aims to bridge the gap from pre-commercial to market & scale-up.
The grant component (maximum 2,5 million euro) is intended to cover innovation activities (TRL6-8), at a 70% subsidy rate, while the equity investment component (between 0,5 and 15 million euro) will primarily finance market deployment and scale-up.
Commercial opportunities: The EIC Accelerator focuses on innovative, high-potential ideas from SMEs, taking such ideas from the level of proven technology to the stage of market launch and commercial break-even. The instrument aims to make it easier for SMEs to convert their innovative ideas into marketable and scalable products.
Type of activities: R&D, Demonstration, Market Uptake and Scale-up
Application: The application process begins with the submission of a short Step 1 application (5-page form; slide deck, plus dhort video pitch), that can be submitted at any time and will be evaluated within 4-6 weeks. If successful, the company is invited to prepare a Step 2 application, i.e., a full written proposal to be submitted for one of the following dedicated Step 2 cutoffs. The full application will be evaluated by a panel of independent experts, and in the case of a positive evaluation the company is invited for a face-to-face interview, after which the SME may obtain a positive decision on the EIC investment.
Requirements: Single SMEs may apply for EIC Accelerator funding, i.e., there is no requirement for additional partners. The EIC Accelerator is a highly competitive funding program. Among a number of important checks to perform before applying, it is important to verify that the proposed idea has a very high market potential. A given SME can only participate in one granted project under the Instrument at the time. SMEs with female leadership (CEO role or similar), are particularly encouraged to apply. In addition, limitations for repeated submissions are enforced.