The European Commission has reorganized its directorate general for research and innovation (RTD). The reorganization was effective last May, when a new organizational chart was published. The chart revealed the transfer of management of the European Innovation Council (EIC) funding program to the directorate for the European Research Area and Innovation, led by Anna Panagopoulou.
This restructuring recognizes the political importance of scaling up tech companies and ensuring effective technology transfer from lab to market.
To support this vision, the EU plans to play a more active role in promoting company growth. Measures include improving access to finance for start-ups, simplifying listing rules for public stock exchanges, updating regulatory sandboxes, providing deep tech training for one million people, and introducing clearer innovation terminology and indicators.
In fact, the EIC has become a central element of the EU’s strategy to increase investments in advanced technologies and their scaling up. Under the new structure, certain aspects of the EIC will be directly overseen by the Commission.
These changes also seem to indicate that the promotion of deep tech investments will receive priority in negotiations for the next EU’s framework research program, succeeding Horizon Europe in 2028.
A substantial portion, €7 billion, of EIC’s €10 billion fund is allocated to the Accelerator program, which involves direct equity investments in start-ups. Concerns were raised by the budget directorate general about the Commission’s limited expertise in conducting due diligence and assessing viable start-up investments.
In response, fund manager AlterDomus, based in Luxembourg, will assume management of the Accelerator fund in September.
To ensure stability, Michiel Scheffer, a former member of the EU Committee of the Regions, was appointed head of the EIC board in March.
In addition to the new EIC unit in Panagopoulou’s directorate, the Commission has established a joint unit for research infrastructures and open science. Furthermore, two advisers have been appointed to focus on research careers and access to finance for innovation.
These changes within Panagopoulou’s directorate follow the recent appointment of Marc Lemaitre as director general of RTD. Sources suggest that Lemaitre has engaged extensively with staff since his appointment in February and is preparing for a comprehensive reshuffling of roles at RTD to align with his vision for the future of EU research and innovation policy.