European Innovation Council – budget over €10 billion
On March 18, The European Commission launched at an online event, the European Innovation Council (EIC) with a budget of over €10 billion (in current prices) for 2021-2027 to develop and expand breakthrough innovations.
Building on a successful pilot programme under Horizon 2020, the new EIC is not only a novelty of Horizon Europe, but it is also unique in the world: it combines research on emerging technologies with an accelerator programme and a dedicated equity fund, the European Innovation Council Fund, to scale up innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Around €3 billion of the EIC’s budget will go towards the EIC Fund.
Furthermore, the first annual work programme of the EIC is published, opening funding opportunities worth over €1.5 billion in 2021. At the same time, two prizes for Women Innovators and the European Capital of Innovation are opened for applications.
The European Innovation Council capitalises on lessons learnt and achievements from its pilot phase during the period 2018-2021. It supported over 5000 SMEs and start-ups, as well as over 330 research projects with a budget of €3.5 billion.
Key novelties of the European Innovation Council
The European Innovation Council (EIC) has several features that make it unique in its way of supporting pioneering ventures and projects.
- The EIC Accelerator supports SMEs, in particular start-ups and spinout companies to develop and scale up game-changing innovations. The EIC Accelerator features a new innovator friendly application system, where start-ups and SMEs can apply for funding at any time via a simplified process.
- A team of EIC Programme Managers will be responsible for developing visions for technological and innovation breakthroughs (such as cell and gene therapy, green hydrogen, and tools to treat brain disease), managing portfolios of EIC projects and bringing together stakeholders to put these visions into reality.
- A new EIC Transition funding scheme will help convert research results (from the EIC Pathfinder and the European Research Council) into innovations (spinouts, commercial partnerships, etc.).
New measures are introduced to support women innovators, which include a female leadership programme. In partnership with the Enterprise Europe Network, talented female innovators, as well as all innovative SMEs from lesser-known regions, will be supported to apply, helping to overcome the innovation divide. Composed of leading innovators, the EIC Advisory Board delivers the strategy of the European Innovation Council and provides advice on its implementation (see today’s statement of the EIC Advisory Board).
Funding opportunities in 2021
The funding opportunities in the first work programme of the European Innovation Council include:
- EIC Accelerator financing, worth €1 billion, for start-ups and SMEs to develop and scale up high impact innovations with the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing ones. It provides a unique blended finance combining equity (or quasi-equity such as convertible loans) between €0.5 million and €15 million through the EIC Fund, with grants of up to €2.5 million. Out of the €1 billion, €495 million is earmarked for breakthrough innovations for the European Green Deal and for strategic Digital and Health Technologies.
- EIC Pathfinder for multi-disciplinary research teams, worth €300 million, to undertake visionary research with the potential to lead to technology breakthroughs. Research teams can apply for up to €4 million in grants. The bulk of the funding is awarded through open calls with no predefined thematic priorities, while €132 million is allocated to tackle five Pathfinder challenges: self-aware Artificial Intelligence (AI), tools to measure brain activity, cell and gene therapy, green hydrogen, and engineered living materials.
- EIC Transition funding to turn research results into innovation opportunities, worth €100 million. This first EIC Transition call will focus on results generated by EIC Pathfinder pilot projects and European Research Council Proof of Concept projects, to mature the technologies and build a business case for specific applications.
All projects of the European Innovation Council have access to Business Acceleration Services, which provide coaches, mentors and expertise, partnering opportunities with corporates, investors and others, and a range of services and events.
National Contact Point for Digital in Horizon Europe
Are you based in the Netherlands and would you like to receive advice on the above possibilities?
Please contact the RVO:
Ruben Wassink – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stijn Greben – email@example.com
Okke Scholten – firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information: www.rvo.nl/horizon-europe
Date: 24 march 2021