The EIC Accelerator aims to make Europe a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship.
The EIC Accelerator is the European Innovation Council‘s (EIC) flagship programme for SMEs. Launched in September 2019 by the European Commission as a pilot in the perspective of Horizon Europe, it replaces the SME Instrument (phase 1 and phase 2) introduced under Horizon 2020.
The EIC aims to boost Europe’s economic growth by bringing visionary ideas to market. To meet this objective, the EIC offers a range of complementary funding through the “EIC Pathfinder” (Novel ideas for radically new technologies), “EIC Transition Activities” (transformation of research results into innovation) and “EIC Accelerator” (deployment of innovation to market) programmes.
The EIC Accelerator is a funding instrument for SMEs and start-ups that develop breakthrough innovation projects with high growth potential. The projects must be high-risk and contribute to a radical transformation of the market. Winners receive funding and support in the form of mixed funding, which can amount to up to €2.5m in grants and €15m in equity investment.
The EIC Accelerator remains the largest and most competitive public funding programme in Europe.
Applicant companies will have to demonstrate the degree of innovation of their product, process or service and have developed an ambitious marketing strategy, with high internationalization and growth potential.
Under Horizon Europe, the EIC is expected to benefit from a total budget of around €10 billion over 7 years, with a large majority of the funds allocated to the EIC Accelerator programme.
Main novelties 2021-2027 Horizon Europe:
The European Commission has proposed several changes and improvements, which should take effect from the launch of Horizon Europe:
- Towards “bottom-up” and “top-down” calls for projects: while the EIC Accelerator will continue to fund the deployment of innovative products or services developed by SMEs in all sectors (EIC Accelerator Open), the EIC wishes to strengthen its support for priority topics for the future of Europe. Thus, calls for “EIC Accelerator Challenges” projects will also be published to fund breakthrough innovations, particularly in the fields of digital, health and the EU Green Deal.
- Limiting the number of resubmissions and improving support for SMEs: In order to limit the number of project resubmissions – considered too high under H2020 – the EIC wishes to set up a 12-month latency period following the submission of 2 consecutive proposals to the EIC Accelerator.
- A new 4-step project selection process: The main change should concern the simplification of the evaluation system, with the disappearance of scores by section but the introduction of a selection process with a “go/no go” approach.