The European Commission launches the funding programs of the European Innovation Council (EIC).
The most interesting program for SMEs is undoubtedly the Accelerator, since it is the first financing instrument that combines the already existing non-refundable grants (up to €2.5 M in the form of “Grants”), with the access to venture capital for a value of up to €15 M (“Equity”) for commercial activities and industrial scaling of the product internationally.
The purpose of the EIC Accelerator is to promote rapid international scaling of companies that are developing radically new products close to the market, that is, with a validated prototype (TRL 6). The projects must have, due to their unconventional nature, a high level of risk that prevents the company from raising the necessary capital to grow and be competitive in the short or medium term.
The EIC Accelerator aims to sponsor not only radically new ideas close to a market that, due to their unconventional nature, are not found in Europe by private investors, but also companies led by women.
This call maintains the focus of the 2021 call, dispensing with the old phase 1 of its predecessor, the SME Instrument, to focus efforts on the market access stages. For this, 2 financing schemes are proposed that allow companies to choose to request only the non-refundable subsidy, or add access to risk capital to launch their product on the market.
Non-refundable aid (Grant only): €0.5 to €2.5 million in financing (70% European contribution)
Joint investment (Blended Finance= Grant+Equity): a tranche of aid limited to a maximum of €2.5M that is complemented by a capital investment that can reach €15M.
Main accelerator news at Horizon Europe
- Two types of calls: one open to all industrial sectors, and two focused on priority sectors: one for projects that contribute to the objectives of the European Green Pact, and another for strategic technologies in the areas of health and digitization. New application and evaluation process: a first screening stage is added with an abbreviated 5-page proposal, after which the full proposal will be presented. The interview phase continues. The seal of excellence will only be awarded in the interview phase, but will give access to coaching and acceleration services from the Commission, which were only available in H2020 for the winning companies. Only 2 submissions are allowed at each step of the application process. After a year of waiting it will be possible to reapply. New AI platform for proposal submission. 40% participation of companies run by women in interviews
Key ingredients to win the accelerator
Deep-tech and highly innovative technology, with a high potential to generate growth in the company
High-risk innovations that cannot raise the private investment or credit needed to accelerate industrial and commercial expansion internationally
Convincing business plan: clear schedule complemented by a strong team and financial data
Wider impacts: the commercialization of innovation will have social, economic, environmental or climate impacts, at least for Europe
The EIC Accelerator Program (formerly SME Instrument) is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) funding programs and supports renowned innovators, entrepreneurs, small businesses and scientists with funding opportunities and services for the acceleration.
The program is committed to SMEs and innovators that combine high risk and high potential, to help them develop and access the market for new innovative products, services and business models that can act as the axis of economic growth.
The chosen companies receive financing and optionally access to private investment, in addition they are offered personalized guidance and supervision services for the scaling of their innovative idea together with additional acceleration services that facilitate access to investors, corporations and entrepreneurs with interests common.
- Single-beneficiary format.
- Exclusively SMEs under the status according to EU criteria recommendation 2003/361.
TYPE AND AMOUNT OF FINANCING
Financing of up to 17 million euros:
Non-refundable aid, grant, up to €2.5 MILLION (grant)
Financing in Capital Investment concept up to €15 MILLION (equity)
All expenses directly related to activities such as trials, prototyping, validation, demonstration and testing in real conditions (TRL6 to TRL8).
The budget categories include, in addition to personnel expenses, travel, consumables, amortization of equipment, contracting of services, indirect costs are included (calculated as 25% of the rest of the costs, except subcontracting). The intensity of non-reimbursable aid will be 70% of the approved and justified budget.
The costs derived from the market access activities (TRL9) will be covered through Private Investment.