This article highlights the main achievements presented in the EIC Impact Report 2021. The fully-fledged European Innovation Council (EIC), launched under Horizon Europe, is a major new player on the innovation landscape. It prides itself with a unique approach to identifying, developing and scaling up Europe’s breakthrough technologies and game-changing innovations. As the 2021 Report shows, the EIC is already proving to earn remarkable results.


The EIC Impact Report 2021: Achievements


EIC’s pilot phase took place until 2020. During this phase, EIC provided support for around 5,500 start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which have:

  • Crowded in EUR 9.6 billion in follow-on investments, primarily from Venture Capital, but also from corporates, national promotional banks and others.
  • Reached a valuation of around EUR 50 billion, including 91 “centaurs” (company valuation over €100m) and 2 “unicorns” (company valuation over EUR 1 billion).
  • An increasing number of women-led start-ups: of those awarded funding in 2020, over 20 percent have a female CEO, a doubling of the previous level.


The EIC Fund, established in 2020, entered full operations in the first six months of 2021:

  • Investment decisions taken on 137 companies worth EUR 600 million.
  • The first 24 direct equity investments by the EIC Fund attracted co-investments by VC funds and others of € 395 million (2.7 times the EIC Fund investment).


The EIC is generating scientific breakthroughs as a basis for future innovations:

  • EIC-supported research projects have generated over 800 innovations. The majority of these projects include SMEs or other commercial partners.
  • EIC Programme Managers pro-actively support the follow up of emerging technologies into potential innovations, through spin-outs, IPRs, collaborations and other pathways.
  • EUR 100 million of EIC Transition funding in 2021 to pull through proofs of concept from ERC and EIC into commercial ventures.


And new solutions for healthcare and the Green and Digital transitions:

  • As of 2020, 90.5% of the portfolio of EIC Accelerator companies are developing innovations that address at least one SDG.
  • The 218 start-ups awarded EIC funding in 2020, include 72 developing innovative solutions for COVID, at least 64 for Green Deal and at least 40 for digital technologies


Official Source: EIC (2021).


About the European Innovation Council (EIC)

The EIC will become a hallmark of innovation excellence and will attract visionary researchers and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and regions who want to grow and scale their business in Europe.

EIC Pilot Advisory Board Chairman


EIC was launched in March 2021 with a budget of over €10 billion as part of the Horizon Europe Programme. It involved the creation of a new Brussels-based executive agency (European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency – EISMEA), a ramping up of the EIC Fund, and the appointment of an independent EIC Board and President, along with the launch of three main funding schemes:


  1. EIC Pathfinder: for advanced high-risk research on breakthrough technologies
  2. EIC Transition: for transforming the most promising research results into innovation opportunities
  3. EIC Accelerator: for ambitious and innovative companies to develop and scale up cutting-edge innovations.


Each year, the EIC attracts thousands of start-ups and research teams from across Europe to compete for highly selective funding, investments and business acceleration services. It draws on the expertise of hundreds of leading entrepreneurs, investors and scientific experts to select the most promising projects; and partners with investors, corporates, venture capitalists, coaches and mentors, and other ecosystem players to accelerate innovations to the market.


1. The Pathfinder Portfolio

The EIC Pathfinder funds cutting-edge, high risk and high-reward research and innovation projects that aim to demonstrate completely new technological paradigms and strengthen Europe’s deep-tech ecosystem.

Since 2014, it has funded 408 projects. These projects are in the areas: Health; Digital/ICT; Energy and Environment; Manufacturing and Infrastructures; and Food and Agriculture. Hence, it is actively contributing to advancements of scientific understanding in many disciplines and continuously pushing boundaries for the development of breakthrough technologies of the future.

The EIC Pathfinder teams are transnational, which means from at least three different countries. Moreover, although they involve mainly universities and research institutes, they also involve private companies and industrial partners. They come from 49 different countries, including all EU member states.


Funding from the EIC Pathfinder is playing a fundamental role in shaping my scientific career. It has increased my visibility within my institution but also at the European and International levels while providing a unique opportunity to translate basic science research into innovations that will help combat a disease which touches the lives of millions of people: Alzheimer’s. Crucially, the funding has helped me establish a state-of-the-art, high-performance computing cluster which is essential to help realise our vision. Finally, I have had the opportunity to lead and manage an international team of talented people and establish long-term relationships with institutions, universities and companies, providing a strong foundation for results that can strengthen the competitiveness of European R&I on the international stage.

Panayiota POIRAZI
Cypriot scientist based in Greece, working to combat Alzheimer’s disease. Principal Investigator at FORTH, coordinator of Pathfinder project NEUREKA 


The EIC monitors innovations generated by EIC Pathfinder projects using the Innovation Radar methodology, which identifies high-potential innovations and key innovators in EU-funded research and innovation projects. So far, it has identified 827 innovations in 146 EIC Pathfinder projects at three distinct levels of development: technological exploration, towards technological readiness and market readiness.

Patent applications are another form of innovation output. So far, 29 EIC Pathfinder projects have made 58 patent applications and 28 patents have been granted.


The support we received helped us develop our breakthrough technology, which does not need huge amounts of water nor chemical additives to produce textile out of any type of biomass.



2. The EIC Transition Scheme

It is a new scheme to support the follow up of EIC Pathfinder and European Research Council projects. It takes them from a proof of concept to a demonstration of the technology for a specific application. Then, it develops a business case to commercialise the application. It builds on a pilot “Transition to Innovation” scheme. This pilot supported 134 projects, ranging from medical devices to energy systems with around € 45 million in EU funding.


The EIC funds multidisciplinary teams working on the development of newly emerging breakthrough materials for energy, starting from design and lab development (under the Pathfinder programme), those trying to bridge the proof of principle and prototype gap (under the Transition programme) and transition SMEs that want to scale up their materials for energy (through the Accelerator programme). We are implementing an open innovation approach to help the different partnerships to work effectively inside the EU ecosystem of innovation with the ambition of establishing the EU as a leader in this field.

EIC Programme Manager Materials for Energy and Environment


3. The EIC Accelerator

The EIC Fund bridges the critical financing gap faced by deep-tech companies that want to bring their technologies to the market and scale them up. Its investment strategy is to provide long-term capital in the form of equity or quasi-equity in start-ups selected by the EIC Accelerator.

It supports visionary entrepreneurs and assists the development and scaling up of high-risk innovations by start-ups and SMEs. The Accelerator offers flexible grant funding of up to €2.5 million (non-dilutive, pivots with the business) and equity investment of up to € 15 million. All EIC Accelerator companies access EIC coaching and mentoring services. They also have access to the EIC Community. All to improve their chances of success.


The EIC is supporting non-incremental and visionary research (with the Pathfinder programme) as well as breakthrough innovations (with the EIC accelerator programme). This approach will enable us to look at the whole value chain of the proposed technologies and processes. The EIC aims to catalyse innovation in funded projects, with proactive management and facilitate the transition from Pathfinder ideas to Accelerator start-ups with the Transition programme that supports the transformation of proof-of-concept results to market-ready technologies.

EIC Programme Manager Energy Systems



Andriotto Financial Services


About Andriotto Financial Services (AFS):


  • Andriotto Financial Services’ team is an official advisor of the European Commission for Horizon Europe.
  • AFS has a Centre of Excellence in Switzerland with some of the most skilled EU grant specialists, writing successful proposals and supporting clients during different implementation phases of projects.
  • AFS evaluates and selects 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 Europe is an ambitious challenge. AFS has one of the highest success rates amongst our European competitors.


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