Breakthrough technologies in Horizon Europe: EIC Accelerator - support for the implementation stage
EIC Accelerator is, besides EIC Pathfinder, another support instrument that is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) operating under the Horizon Europe Framework Programme. EIC Accelerator aims to support innovative projects with a high risk and high socio-economic impact. The call is open to SME entities from EU member states or countries associated to Horizon Europe. Subject to specific rules, mid-cap companies (up to 500 employees) can also apply for support. Companies led by women are especially encouraged to participate.
EIC Accelerator calls will be issued in OPEN mode for projects from all industries (without a specific thematic area) and in CHALLENGE mode intended for SMEs developing solutions within the framework of strategic technologies indicated in the announcement of the call.
EIC Accelerator is a funding instrument for companies that:
- are developing a high-risk/high-impact innovation,
- have the potential to create new markets, disrupt existing players and contribute to driving social innovation,
- create scientific breakthroughs, radical thinking or technological breakthroughs ("deep tech"),
- require substantial funding over a long period of time and are too risky for private investors.
Applicants can apply for the grant only, or first for the grant and then for the investment component, or for the investment component only.
The grant may range from EUR 0.5 million to EUR 2.5 million, for up to 70% of eligible costs.
The investment component is capital support of up to EUR 15 million. Enterprises with medium capitalization (mid-caps) can receive support only under this component.
All companies granted support within EIC Accelerator will receive additional assistance in the form of, among other things:
- access to advisory services, such as: coaching, mentoring, expertise, training,
- access to business partners such as: corporations, investors, distributors, innovation adopters, customers,
- access to innovation ecosystems and partners, such as: EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities, incubators, accelerators, innovation agencies, associations, stock exchanges, Enterprise Europe Network, intellectual property protection.
It is worth noting that the call is intended for the best projects that meet the challenging criteria of the EIC jury. Benefits for a selected group of beneficiaries will have both material and reputational aspects, raising the company’s prestige and recognition on the Polish and international market.
The EIC Accelerator budget in 2021 is over EUR 1 billion. Of the total, EUR 592.5 million will be distributed within open calls, and EUR 496.8 million in thematic ones, addressing for example challenges connected with fighting climate change or digitalization of the economy.
What activities can be funded?
EIC Accelerator will support the development of innovation already validated in laboratory conditions (R&D from TRL 5/6 to 8) and scale-up and deployment (TRL 9). Activities above TRL 8 can be financed using the investment component or the beneficiary's own resources. The project implementation period should be 24 months. In justified cases, the implementation period can be longer.
Call for proposals
The application process is divided into stages, which will be described in detail in subsequent posts on our blog. At a glance, the process is as follows:
- Preliminary application - the call is issued on a continuous basis, with remote evaluation within 4-6 weeks of submission;
- Proper application - call within the announced call rounds. Applicants are required to submit their application within a maximum of 12 months of receiving a positive evaluation of the preliminary application. Proper applications will be evaluated remotely by EIC experts. Successful applicants will be invited for an interview with experts as the final stage of the selection process.
Successful applicants will be invited to sign a contract for the grant component and to start due diligence for the investment component (if applicable).
The call for preliminary applications is issued on a rolling basis. The deadline for the 2021 proper applications (for both Accelerator Open and Accelerator Challenge) is Wednesday, 6 October. Deadlines for next year's calls will be set out in the 2022 EIC Work Programme and announced likely in Q4 2021.
Applications, both preliminary and proper, are prepared and submitted through the EIC IT platform. Due to ongoing platform improvements and the introduction of additional functionalities, the European Commission recommends submission of pre-proposals starting from 22 June 2021.