European Innovation Council Work Programme 2024

It opens funding opportunities worth over €1.2 billion for strategic technologies and scaling up companies

The European Innovation Council (EIC) has officially launched and adopted its much-anticipated work programme for 2024, outlining strategic goals, key performance indicators, and funding schemes aimed at fostering breakthrough technologies and supporting visionary companies. The EIC’s mission is to play a pivotal role in achieving the green and digital transition outlined in EU policies, ensuring strategic autonomy in critical technologies for the future

Overview of the 2024 Work Programme

The EIC’s work programme for 2024 focuses on six strategic goals, each associated with key performance indicators to measure progress and guide implementation. These goals include becoming the “investor of choice” for innovative individuals and start-ups, crowding in significant investments into European deep tech, pulling through high-risk technologies for strategic autonomy, increasing the number of European unicorns and scale-ups, catalysing innovation impacts from European public research, and achieving operational excellence. 

The work programme is organized into three main funding schemes, each tagged for distinct stages of innovation: EIC Pathfinder for advanced research, EIC Transition to validate technologies and develop business plans, and EIC Accelerator to support companies in bringing their innovations to market and scaling them up. All schemes provide “Open” funding, supporting technologies and innovations in any field, complemented by specific “Challenges” targeting strategic areas such as Net Zero Industry, Critical Raw Materials, and Health Emergency Responses.  

EIC Pathfinder: 

  • Open Call (Only consortia can apply): Grants up to EUR 3 million 
  • Challenges Call (Consortia and single applicants) : Grants up to EUR 4 million, higher amounts if duly justified 
  • Projects: To achieve the proof of principle and validate the scientific basis of breakthrough technologies (starting from early TRLs aiming at achieving TRL3 or 4) 
  • Deadlines: 7 March 2024 and 16 October 2024 
  • Indicative Budget: EUR 136 million (7 March 2024) and EUR 120 million (16 October 2024) 

 EIC Transition: 

  • Applicants: Single applicants (SMEs, spin-offs, start-ups, research organizations, universities) or small consortia (minimum 2, maximum 5 eligible entities) 
  • Grants: Up to EUR 2.5 million to validate and demonstrate technology in application-relevant environment (starting at TRL 3/4 aiming at achieving TRL 5/6) and develop business and market readiness. 
  • Deadline: 18 September 2024 
  • Indicative Budget: EUR 94 million 

 EIC Accelerator: 

  • Applicants: Single start-ups and SMEs (including spin-offs), individuals (intending to launch a start-up/SME), and in exceptional cases small mid-caps (fewer than 499 employees) 
  • Grant Component: Below EUR 2.5 million for innovation activities (starting at TRL 5 or 6 aiming at achieving higher TRLs) 
  • Investment Component: EUR 0.5 million up to 15 million for scaling up and other activities. Grant-only and investment-only components under certain conditions. 
  • Deadlines: Short applications – Any time (continuous); Full applications – 13 March 2024 and 3 October 2024 
  • Indicative Budget: EUR 375 million and EUR 300 million for the two deadlines, respectively 

In addition, EIC support extends beyond funding. Aiming to accelerate and grow innovations through non-financial support, EIC Awardees gain access to Business Acceleration Services, fostering connections with partners, investors, and experts. Proactive project and portfolio management by EIC Programme Managers ensures ongoing support and the achievement of project milestones.  

Main Changes for 2024 and Outlook for 2025 and Beyond

The 2024 Work Programme introduces adjustments and improvements based on advice from the EIC Board, budget considerations, and implementation feedback. Notable changes include the introduction of a lump-sum cost model, reductions in the budget for main EIC calls due to the withdrawal of the Next Generation EU contribution and reinforced measures to safeguard Europe from economic security risks. In this regard, the EIC has implemented eligibility criteria, investment safeguards, and intellectual property requirements. These measures aim to protect the Union’s strategic assets, interests, autonomy, and security.

The EIC Work Programme reflects a commitment to driving innovation in Europe. With strategic goals, well-defined KPIs, and an array of funding schemes, the EIC is poised to play a crucial role in shaping the future of technology and entrepreneurship in the European landscape. Looking ahead, the EIC plans to continue collaborating with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), strengthen synergies with the EIT KICs, and explore potential new synergies with the European Regional Development Funds. The creation of a Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) is proposed, which could lead to increased financing through the EIC Fund for companies in key focal areas.

Additionally The EIC board has recently introduced a Code of Conduct aimed at consultants providing guidance to applicants for EIC calls, with a specific focus on the EIC Accelerator. These guidelines and principles are established to regulate the conduct and practices of various stakeholders associated with the European Innovation Council. This encompasses, without being restricted to, innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, and other individuals involved in activities funded by the EIC.

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