The EIC Accelerator Challenges

The EIC Accelerator Challenges supports companies – start-ups and SMEs in particular – to scale up high impact innovations with the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing ones in identified areas of strategic relevance.

It focuses on innovations building on scientific discovery or technological breakthroughs – falling under the “deep tech” category – and where significant funding is needed over a long-time frame before returns can be generated (which is referred as “patient capital”.

Differing from the Accelerator Open – which finances innovations in every technological and application field (“Open Funding”) – the Accelerator Challenges aims to support strategic high-risk technologies and with great impact; in this case, the drive is environmental awareness.

The EIC Accelerator Challenges is open to innovations in the specific fields of technology or application described by the specific challenges in sections III.3.1 and III.3.2 of the EIC Work Programme 2021. However, will not be supported: innovations that harm in any way either the environment or the social welfare of any society; innovations that are designed primarily for military purposes.

EIC Accelerator Challenge – Green Deal innovations for the Economic Recovery

A company/startup/SME should definitely apply if the project supports the Green Deal implementation by significantly contributing to at least one of the following sustainability goals:

  • Increasing the EU’s climate mitigation and/or adaptation ambition;
  • Supplying clean, affordable and secure energy;
  • Transitioning of industry to a clean and/or circular economy (including waste prevention and/or recycling);
  • Building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way;
  • Accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility;
  • Transition to a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system;
  • Preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity (including nature-based solutions that provide co-benefits for climate adaptation and mitigation);
  • Realizing a zero pollution ambition and a toxic-free environment.

Specific priority is given to projects relating to key innovations for the green economic transition as identified in the Recovery Plan for Europe – Commission Staff Working Document on Identifying Europe’s recovery needs, SWD (2020) 98 final, page 17 (HERE) & Guidance to Member States on their national Recovery and Resilience Plans, SWD (2020) 205 final, page 18-19 (HERE).

In that particular regard, at least 50% of the companies selected for the interview phase must have submitted proposals relating to one the following areas:

  • Renewable energy, including renewable Hydrogen and energy storage
  • Deep Renovation of buildings
  • Low carbon industries
  • Batteries and other energy storage systems

For further information, take a look at the EIC Work Programme 2021

Conditions, documentation, and rules.

First of all, there are the Admissibility conditions: in order to apply you must meet one of the following eligibility conditions:

  • A single company classified as a SME and established within a Member State or an Associated Country (see Annex 3 of the EIC Work Programme 2021);
  • A single company classified as a ‘Small mid-cap’ (up to 500 employees) established in a Member State or an Associated Country, but your application can only be for rapid scale up purposes (e.g. Technology Readiness Level 9) and only for the investment component;
  • One or more natural persons (including individual entrepreneurs) or legal entities, which are either:
  1. from a Member State or an Associated Country (for Associated Countries other than EEA, this possibility will be subject to the related association agreements) intending to establish an SME or small mid-cap (as defined above) in a Member State or Associated Country by the time of signing the Accelerator contract or, in the case blended finance is awarded, at the latest when agreeing on its investment component;
  2. intending to invest in an SME or small mid-cap in a Member State or an Associated Country and who may submit a proposal on behalf of that SME or small mid-cap, provided that a prior agreement exists with the company. The contract will be signed with the beneficiary company only;
  3. from a non-associated third country intending to establish an SME (including start-ups) or to relocate an existing SME to a Member State or an Associated Country, by the time of submitting a full application. Your company must prove its effective establishment in a Member State or an Associated Country. The Commission may set specific conditions and milestones in the contract to ensure that the interest of the Union is met.

The standard admissibility and eligibility conditions are detailed in Annex 2 and information on eligible Associated Countries in Annex 3 of the EIC Work Programme 2021.

There are limitations on the number of times you can submit an application described in the section II.3 (Table 5) of the EIC Work Programme 2021 on resubmission limits.

If you are currently a participant in an eligible project funded by Horizon Europe or Horizon 2020 then you may be able to apply through your existing project under the Fast Track scheme (see Annex 4 of the EIC Work Programme 2021). This scheme is managed by the funding body responsible for the existing project and for 2021 it applies to funding bodies managing grants under the EIC Pathfinder and Transition (including EIC pilot 2018-20); ERC Proof of Concept; and Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Applicants may also be able to apply if they have a project financed by an eligible programme managed by a Member State or an Associated Country under the pilot Plug-in scheme. The Plug-in scheme to apply to the EIC Accelerator is detailed in Annex 5 of the EIC Work Programme 2021.


Proposal page limits and layout: You must prepare your application (Short and Full application) on the EIC artificial intelligence-based IT platform via on-line forms, by answering a series of questions:

Short applications:

  • An on-line form where you must summarise your proposal and respond to a set of questions on your innovation, your potential market and your team;
  • A pitch-deck of up to 10 slides following a set format;
  • A (link to a) video pitch of up to 3 minutes where the core members of your team (up to three people) should provide the motivation for your application.

The affiliation with one of the two Challenges or to the Accelerator Open is selectable only when the Full application is submitted.

Full applications: 

  • An on-line form that follows a methodology embedded in the EIC artificial intelligence-based IT platform that produces a full and detailed business plan with information on you company’s finances and structure;
  • A pitch-deck to be used if invited to the interviews


Second of all, not all countries are eligible to participate: the Country Eligibility is described in section II.3 and in Annex 3 of the EIC Work Programme 2021.

Applicants from the United Kingdom can apply to the EIC Accelerator, but can only request and receive funding in the form of “grant only”. The signature of any grant agreement will be subject to the positive conclusion of the association negotiation with the United Kingdom.


Third, there is the Financial and operational capacity and exclusion: described in Annex 2 of the EIC Work Programme 2021.


Fourth, the Evaluation and award:


Call document and annexes:

EIC Work Programme 2021

Guide for Applicants

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

MGA used for EIC actions under Horizon Europe (HE General MGA)

EIC Fund Investment Guidelines


Additional documents:

EU Financial Regulation 2018/1046

Rules for Legal Entity Validation, LEAR Appointment and Financial Capacity Assessment

Funding & Tenders Portal Online Manual

Funding & Tenders Portal Terms & Conditions

Funding & Tenders Portal Privacy Statement

To apply:

About AFS

  • Andriotto Financial Services team is an official advisors of the European Commission for Horizon 2020
  • AFS has a Centre of Excellence in Switzerland with some of the most skilled EU grant specialists, writing a successful proposal and supporting clients during the different implementation phases
  • AFS evaluate and select the best projects and enterprises around Europe to receive public funding
  • Our client portfolio includes some of the most important public institutions in Italy and in Europe
  • Participating in Horizon 2020 is an ambitious challenge; however, we have one of the highest success rates between our European competitors.

Down below, you can learn more about each service:

You can find more info about the AFS team here: