From prototype to market entry with the EIC Accelerator
Are you an innovator? Secure up to 2.5 million euros in grants for the market entry of your innovation. In addition, up to 15 million euros in equity capital is possible. We guide you through the three-stage application process and secure your funding.
In the 8th Research Framework Programme (FP) Horizon 2020, the EU provided funding totalling around 80 billion euros. The SME instrument supported highly innovative SMEs in the implementation of their innovation projects from the idea to the market launch with up to 2.5 million euros. The Horizon 2020 framework programme ended after seven years at the end of 2020.
The new 9th Research Framework Programme Horizon Europe (Horizon Europe) thus started in 2021 and has a financial framework of 100 billion euros until 2027. In preparation for the new Horizon Europe framework programme, the European Innovation Council (EIC) was established. It brings together the most important EU funding instruments under its leadership. The European Commission thus intends to bring innovations to market faster and to promote growth and employment in the EU in the long term.
The EIC coordinates the funding programmes EIC Transition, EIC Pathfinder, EIC Accelerator, Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) and the EIC Horizon Prizes. Already during the Horizon 2020 framework programme, the EIC is starting a pilot phase as the EIC Accelerator Pilot.
We recommend planning an EIC Accelerator project at an early stage:
Start now – and fill out our funding check free of charge and without obligation. You will receive our personal recommendation and evaluation of your project within a very short time.
The EIC Accelerator is intended as a funding instrument for small and medium-sized enterprises that meet the SME criteria. Start-ups and young companies as well as natural persons are also eligible to apply. For an SME to be eligible to apply, it must be established in an EU Member State, or in a Horizon 2020 associated country. Only individual companies that submit a project application as a company will be funded.
A prerequisite for funding in the EIC Accelerator is a high-risk idea with a high market potential and degree of innovation. Therefore, it should be a disruptive innovation that involves a complete restructuring of existing, traditional business models, products, technologies or services. Both technical and non-technical innovations, such as social innovations or innovations in the service sector, are supported.
For example, the programme can promote the following activities:
Other types of activities that bring innovations to investment readiness and maturity for market launch are also eligible.
In order to be able to submit a project application, a technical project must be at technology readiness level 6 (TRL 6). For this, TRL 5 must be largely completed. This means that the research must be (largely) completed and the technology must function in a relevant environment. A functioning demonstrator should therefore exist shortly or already exist.
However, the TRL term is very technical and not applicable to all topics in the EIC Accelerator. Depending on the topic, corresponding levels of maturity must be reached at the time of application.
The funding programme is generally open to all sectors and topics, but also sets additional challenges in the current funding period:
Applicants to the EIC Accelerator can thus either refer to the open call (EIC Accelerator Open) or set a thematic focus (EIC Accelerator Challenges).
SMEs that receive Accelerator funding can also claim so-called Business Acceleration Services. This funding supports measures to facilitate market entry. Eligible measures can be:
As a rule, the project duration should be 12 to 24 months. Nevertheless, in exceptional and well-justified individual cases, the duration can be applied for longer.
Funding is offered in two possible options:
The grant-based funding can amount to between 0.5 and 2.5 million euros and be a maximum of 70 percent of the total project costs. Here, the programme finances activities from TRL 6-8 .
The EIC Accelerator also offers the possibility of obtaining equity capital. The amount of equity capital requested depends on the activities and financial needs of the applicant company. Amounts of 0.5 – 5 million euros are possible, and in individual cases this can be up to 15 million euros. From TRL 8, mixed financing must be provided.
The application process for the EIC Accelerator starts with a project outline including a pitch deck and a 3-minute pitch video (short application). This is followed by an initial evaluation by the four reviewers. To advance to the next round, applicants need at least two “GO’s” from the experts. In the event of rejection, a new outline can be submitted for the next funding period. If this is rejected for the second time, applicants have to wait another 12 months before they can try again.
After the project outline, the full application including pitch deck is submitted. Three experts then assess the EIC application and if it is unanimously approved, the applicants can prepare for round three, the pitch interview. In case of rejection, the full application can be resubmitted for the next round. Here, too, the rule applies: after two rejections, there is a 12-month rest period before a new full proposal or even a new project outline must be submitted.
Start now with STEP 1 – arrange your personal and free initial consultation.
The pitch interviews take place after the full application either in Brussels or remotely. Applicants for the EIC Accelerator have to prove themselves in front of the expert jury within 40 minutes by convincing in a 10-minute pitch and presenting their company and innovation in the 30-minute Q&A session. The most convincing ones will receive funding – and access to the Business Acceleraion Services.
In case of rejection, there are several possibilities:
Full proposals can be submitted until the respective cut-off date. According to the European Innovation Council, all information is subject to change. The next deadline is expected to be 5th October 2022.
We recommend: Start your application now!
Do you need help with the application process? As consultants for SME funding, we have been successful for more than 10 years and accompany you from the application to project management to the settlement with the funding body.
An initial consultation with us is always free of charge.