The European Commission launched the European Innovation Council (EIC) with a budget of over €10 billion (in current prices) for 2021-2027 to develop and expand breakthrough innovations!
The official Article HERE
Based on the past programme, Horizon 2020, the new EIC not only constitutes a novelty, but it stands out globally under many aspects:
- It combines research on emerging technologies with an accelerator programme and a dedicated equity fund – the European Innovation Council Fund – to scale up innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs); which means that around €3 billion of the EIC’s budget will go towards the EIC Fund.
- The first annual work programme of the EIC is published, opening funding opportunities worth over €1.5 billion in 2021.
- At the same time, two prizes for “Women Innovators” and the “European Capital of Innovation” are opened for applications.
Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for “A Europe Fit for the Digital Age”, said:
«We now have a fund to support small and medium sized companies that do breakthrough innovation, access equity and scale up innovative start-ups. This is a way to convert research results into business and to develop visions for technological and innovation breakthroughs.»
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:
«The European Innovation Council is Europe’s most ambitious initiative to support the breakthroughs Europe needs to recover from the economic crisis and accelerate the transition to a green and digital economy. By investing in visionary research and innovative companies, it will reinforce European technological sovereignty, scale up hundreds of Europe’s most promising start-ups, and pave the way for the upcoming European Innovation Area.»
The European Innovation Council capitalizes on lessons learnt and achievements from its pilot phase during 2018-2021. It already supports over 5000 SMEs and Start-ups, as well as over 330 research projects with a budget of €3.5 billion.
Key novelties of the European Innovation Council
The European Innovation Council (EIC) has several features that make it unique in its way of supporting pioneering ventures and projects.
- The EIC Accelerator supports SMEs, in particular start-ups and spinout companies to develop and scale up game-changing innovations. The EIC Accelerator features a new innovator friendly application system, where start-ups and SMEs can apply for funding at any time via a simplified process.
- A team of EIC Programme Managers will be responsible for developing visions for technological and innovation breakthroughs (such as cell and gene therapy, green hydrogen, and tools to treat brain disease), managing portfolios of EIC projects and bringing together stakeholders to put these visions into reality.
- A new EIC Transition funding scheme will help convert research results (from the EIC Pathfinder and the European Research Council) into innovations (spinouts, commercial partnerships, etc.).
- New measures are introduced to support women innovators, which include a female leadership programme. In partnership with the Enterprise Europe Network, talented female innovators, as well as all innovative SMEs from lesser-known regions, will be supported to apply, helping to overcome the innovation divide.
Composed of leading innovators, the EIC Advisory Board delivers the strategy of the European Innovation Council and provides advice on its implementation (see today’s statement of the EIC Advisory Board).
Funding opportunities in 2021
The funding opportunities of the European Innovation Council include:
- EIC Accelerator financing
The European Innovation Council is worth €1 billion. It aims to help start-ups and small-to-medium enterprises develop and scale high-impact ideas. These innovations could create new markets or disrupt existing industries. The EIC provides blended financing combining equity or quasi-equity convertible loans. Investments range from €0.5 million to €15 million through the EIC Fund. Grants of up to €2.5 million also support these ventures. Nearly half a billion euro is dedicated to breakthrough technologies for the European Green Deal. Digital and healthcare innovations receive strategic funding as well.
- EIC Pathfinder for multi-disciplinary research teams
Worth €300 million, to undertake visionary research with the potential to lead to technology breakthroughs. Research teams can apply for up to €4 million in grants. Most funding comes from open calls with no set thematic priorities. €132 million directly addresses five Pathfinder challenges: developing self-aware artificial intelligence, tools measuring brain activity, cell and gene therapy, green hydrogen production, and engineered living materials.
- EIC Transition funding to turn research results into innovation opportunities
Worth €100 million. This first EIC Transition call will focus on results generated by EIC Pathfinder pilot projects and European Research Council Proof of Concept projects, to mature technologies and build a business case for specific applications.
Everyone related to projects in the European Innovation Council has access to Business Acceleration Services, which provide coaches, mentors and expertise, partnering opportunities with corporates, investors and others, and a range of services and events.
European Innovation Council prizes
Several prizes are integrated in the European Innovation Council to celebrate those shaping the future of innovation in Europe.
- The EU Prize for Women Innovators recognizes the most talented women entrepreneurs from across the EU and countries associated with Horizon Europe, who have founded a successful company and brought innovation to market.
- The European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital) recognizes cities’ roles. It acknowledges local efforts to shape innovation ecosystems. iCapital also promotes game-changing innovation. A new category features this year. The European Rising Innovative City targets mid-sized municipalities. Eligible towns must have over 50,000 residents. To qualify, cities cannot exceed 250,000 inhabitants. This new grouping spotlights urban areas cultivating innovation at scale.
- The European Social Innovation Competition aims to incentivize social innovations. It works to support and reward innovations that help people. These innovations help individuals and groups identify skills. They assist in developing and strengthening abilities. People need such skills to adapt. Organizations require skills to thrive in a changing world. The goal involves aiding navigation of transformation.
- The European Innovation Procurement Awards recognize buyers across Europe. They aim to honor efforts promoting innovation procurement. Specifically, the innovative ways buyers obtain solutions receive focus. Both public and private sector organizations can be nominated for awards. Winners showcase creative practices that foster novel answers to needs. The goal involves sharing succesful strategies boosting innovation through public and industry purchases.
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