The EIC Accelerator Pilot is a highly innovative initiative launched at the end of 2019 which allow SMEs and start-up with breakthrough projects to receive up to €2.5 million in non-refundable grant and €15 million in equity financing. While the non-refundable grant financing follows a rather fast procedure, the equity financing is preceded by a due diligence phase.

The 6th of January the Commission has announced the first round of direct equity investment through the new European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund. 42 highly innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) will together receive equity financing of around €178 million to develop and scale up breakthrough innovations in health, circular economy, advanced manufacturing and other areas. Among them, the French company CorWave is the first EU company in which the EIC Fund is investing. CorWave’s mission is to bring a new standard of care to patients with life-threatening heart failure. The €15 million EIC Fund investment has played a critical role by mobilising additional investors to unite behind the French SME, which led to a €35 million of investments in the fourth stage of start-up financing for CorWave.

The investment agreements with the other target companies are now being finalised, and will be announced shortly. A few examples of this first round of investments:

  • Hiber (The Netherlands): an international satellite and communication company that provides global and affordable Internet of Things connectivity;
  • XSUN (France): a solar aircraft company that designs energy-independent drones to be fully autonomous so they can operate without any human intervention;
  • GEOWOX LIMITED (Ireland): a technological company that provides automated property valuations, leveraging high-quality open data and machine learning models;
  • EPI-ENDO PHARMACEUTICALS EHF (Iceland): a pharmaceutical company focused on developing a proprietary portfolio of drugs to address the huge global burden of chronic respiratory diseases.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said: “Europe has many innovative, talented start-ups, but too often these companies remain small or relocate elsewhere. This new form of financing – combining grants and equity – is unique to the European Innovation Council. It will bridge the funding gap for highly innovative companies, unlock additional private investments and enable them scale up in Europe.”

Under the EIC Accelerator a total of 293 companies have already been selected for funding worth over €563 million in grants since December 2019. Among those, 159 companies have been selected to additionally receive the new equity investments from the EIC Fund. The 42 companies announced today are the first of this group to successfully pass the evaluation and due diligence process. The other 117 companies are in the pipeline to receive investments pending the outcome of the relevant process.

Due to its great success, the EIC Accelerator initiative will continue under the new Horizon Europe program with a double-step procedure. The Horizon Europe work programme will be shortly published alongside with the Accelerator official rules and calendar.