This is the first post of a series that explains the revised EIC Investment Guidelines. We focus on characteristic of types of innovation.

The Investment Guidelines have been updated to provide more clarity to applicants and to reflect recent changes in the management of the EIC Fund and will remain in place until the end of 2022.

Updated: 1st March 2022

In the next articles, we will introduce other main points discussed in the document that might be of interest for any project that needs investors.



Insight on:

Types of Innovation


As the document reports:

The EIC Accelerator support different types of innovation, in particular those based on deep-tech or radical thinking. However, these types of innovation also include social innovation. For the purpose of the present guidelines, “deep-tech” refers to a technology based on cutting-edge scientific advances and discoveries. It is characterised by the need to stay at the technological forefront by constant interaction with new ideas and results from the lab. Deep-tech is distinct from ‘high-tech’, which tends to refer only to R&D intensity.

Even though the concept of innovation covers many fields, the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator will keep a keener eye on projects that are based on deep-tech. Why? Because the research developed by disruptive projects is key to set an important foot into societal improvement.


The Deep Tech Europe Report: key numbers from the EIC performance.

The European Innovation Council supports European innovators in transitioning their ideas from the lab to the market. Thanks to its “smart money”, the EIC is bridging the critical investment gap in early-stage innovation. Hence, it is fostering market-creating innovations in Europe.

The Deep Tech Europe Report focuses on the results together with impacts of its legacy programmes (SME Instrument and FET). It reveals the ins and outs of the EIC Accelerator and EIC Pathfinder funding schemes. Below, we summarise the key numbers from the EIC portfolio in 2020.


Some of essential characteristics that you must consider when presenting your project to the EIC

1. Scope, policy targets:

Whilst open to innovation in all areas presenting high technological or market or financial risks, the EIC Accelerator may also focus part of its support, on capital-intensive strategic technologies in policy priority areas, including Health, Green Deal (e.g., clean energy, climate action, future mobility) and Digital Transformation, advanced engineering, life sciences and space.

Example: European Green Deal

Climate change together with environmental degradation are a threat to Europe and the world. The Green Deal aims to transform the EU into a green, efficient economy with no emissions by 2050. It pursues growth without excess use and assistance for all people and regions.

The European Green Deal is also our lifeline out of the COVID-19 pandemic. One third of the 1.8 trillion Euro investments from the NextGenerationEU Recovery Plan, as well as the EU’s seven-year budget will finance the European Green Deal.


2. Target company – development stage:

Pre-Seed, Seed and Early-stage SMEs, and small mid-caps.

Eligible applicants under EIC Accelerator are for-profit SMEs, including start-ups and early-stage companies, and small mid-caps, from any sector, and typically with a strong intellectual property component. EIC Accelerator support aims to address high-risk projects that are not yet sufficiently attractive for investors, also considering the scale of investment required, with the aim to de-risk such projects and catalyze private investment throughout the lifetime of the EIC investment; thanks to the leverage provided by the EIC blended finance.

Areas of Intervention:

  • Pathfinder funding: for advanced research, supporting early-stage development of future as well as emerging breakthrough, market-creating and/or deep tech technologies
  • Transition funding: to help researchers as well as innovators develop the pathway to commercial development for promising research results
  • Accelerator funding: to support individual SMEs, start-ups and small mid-caps to bridge the financing gap between late stages of research activities as well as market take-up, to effectively deploy breakthrough, market-creating innovation and scale-up companies where the market does not provide viable financing
  • Additional activities such as prizes, fellowships and business added-value services


3. Geographical scope and European technological sovereignty:

Eligible companies must be established and operating in the EU Member States or Associated countries to Horizon Europe. When negotiating and implementing investments decided by the Commission, the EIC Fund will ensure that supported companies keep most of their value, including their IP, in the EU or in Associated Countries, in order to contribute to their economic growth and job creation.

Having regard to its public policy role, the EIC Fund will also take into account the EU initiatives to create a Capital Markets Union, including an attractive landscape for the financing of companies in the European Union that ensures a very high level of protection, effectiveness and easiness of operation, Accordingly, in case of potential investments in companies that have set up or plan to set up financial holding vehicles outside of the territory of the EU Member States or Associated countries to Horizon Europe, the Fund will determine whether such structuring can be accepted in light of the conditions above in previous paragraphs under this section 2.3, with a view to ensure compliance with Article 155 (2) and (3) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 (Financial Regulation of the EU).


 “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.”

Mariya Gabriel,

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth


European’s statement of technological sovereignty

In the context of growing geopolitical rivalries and the pandemic, the concept of technological sovereignty has emerged to become a key political theme. This concept is directly relevant to the European Innovation Council and the EIC pilot Advisory Board.


types of innovation

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