European Innovation Council
The EIC Accelerator gives grants (up to 2.5M€) and investments (up to 15M€) to European Start-ups and Small companies to develop game-changing innovations. The EIC Accelerator is the main instrument promoted by the European Commission to boost tech startups. The EIC Accelerator - with over 7 billion eur until 2026- aims to fill the funding gap between the prototype stage and the market for deep-tech and science-based companies based in Europe. It is focused on high-risk high-impact projects, aiming to de-risk this type of companies by providing grants, convertible loans and equity investments.
- Use: R&D; Go2Market;
- Date closing: -
- Amount: 500,000 € - 17.5M €
- Industry focus: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishery; Arts; Tourism; Health; ICT; Food; Manufacturing; Chemical industry; Construction; Education; Energy and water supply; Transportation; Media; Others;
- Yearly operations: 200
- Total budget: 1B €
- Entity type: Public Agency
- Vertical focus: Deep-tech; Science; Deeptech
- Website: https://eismea.ec.europa.eu/
- Status: Open
- Funding type: Grant; Equity investment;
- Funding rate: 70%
- Geographic focus: Horizon Europe associated countries; European Union;
- Public/Private: Public
- Stage focus: pre-seed;
- Applicant target: Startup; SME; Mid-cap;
The EIC Accelerator is the main instrument promoted by the European Commission to boost tech startups. The EIC Accelerator - with over 7 billion eur until 2026- aims to fill the funding gap between the prototype stage and the market for deep-tech and science-based companies based in Europe. It is focused on high-risk high-impact projects, aiming to de-risk this type of companies by providing grants, convertible loans and equity investments.
The EIC Accelerator is only recommended for companies with a very unique technology -stemming in most cases from R&D- and with the potential to scale globally. It is hihgly selective as the common success rates have been 2-6% across Europe.
The application process requires an estimated dedication of 300 - 400 hours since it is based on an ad-hoc specific form that makes almost impossible to reuse existing documentation or business plans.
However, the reward for successful startups is also outstanding: a maximum of 2.5 M€ in grant and 15 M€ in investment can be provided, apart from international visibility, recognition and top coaching.
Even for companies that do not succeed, the EIC Application process can be useful as it will enhance the company investment readiness.
The EIC Accelerator supports individual Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in particular Startups and spinout companies to develop and scaleup game-changing innovations. In some cases small mid-caps (up to 500 employees) are supported.
The EIC Accelerator provides substantial financial support with:
- grant funding (non-dilutive) of up to €2.5 million for innovation development costs,
- investments (direct equity investments) of up to €15 million managed by the EIC Fund for scale up and other relevant costs.
In addition, EIC selected companies receive coaching, mentoring, access to investors and corporates, and many other opportunities as part of the EIC community.
The EIC welcomes applications from innovators in all EU Member States and countries associated to the Horizon Europe programme. It particularly welcomes applications from startups and SMEs with female CEOs.
How to apply?
Candidates must go through a three-step evaluation process. First, the short application consists of a 3-minute video, a 10-slide presentation and a 5-page form. If this step is successfully completed, a full application is prepared in the next 12 months, writing the full proposal. Finally, the best projects will be invited to a 40-minute interview with the EIC jury. The short proposal can be submitted at any time and you are notified in 4 to 6 weeks if you pass or not to be able to submit the full proposal when there is a deadline in 2022 (those of 2021 are now the last on October 6). It is expected that by 2022 there will be 4 cut offs for the full proposal (January 12, April 6, June 15, October 5). The EIC accelerator covers up to €2.5 million in grant and up to 15 million in equity investment. During the investment the EIC goes 1:1 with other certified investor, if the company fails finding an investor the EIC will provide the money through a convertible loan.
EIC Accelerator FAQ
1) Technologies for ‘Fit for 55’, including:
- Higher clean energy conversion and use
- Decarbonisation of hard-to-abate industries
- Energy efficiency and safety in the built environment
- Zero emission mobility solutions
- Climate neutrality in the land use
- Water, gas and indoor air management/monitoring systems
- Green digital technologies
2)Technologies for Open Strategic Autonomy, including
- Components, technologies and systems for the pharmaceutical industry
- Strategic healthcare technologies
- Sustainable and innovative approaches, including circular approaches to critical raw materials (CRM)
- New applications of quantum technologies
- Edge computing applications
- Innovative applications making use of data and signals from EU space infrastructures (Galileo, Copernicus, etc.)
- Development of space technologies,
- Critical security technologies
- Technologies for innovative financial and payment infrastructures and services
We must however await for the official EIC news.
European startups are inmerse in a extraordinary uncertainty with regards to EIC funding, which is not less than the biggest EU funding program for deep tech startups. We hope the EIC manages to overcome all the barriers and ends up deploying an attractive and effective startup funding mechanism in 2022. Meanwhile, European science-based companies might need to look for capital somewhere else...
EIC. Successful applicants must:
· Develop high risk/high impact innovations;
· Have the potential to create new markets, disrupt existing ones and contribute to societal innovation;
· Build on scientific discovery, radical thinking or technological breakthroughs (‘deep tech’);
· Require significant funding over a long timeframe before returns can be generated (‘patient capital’).
Some companies have the know-how to complete a patent search themselves. While the evaluators may accept an unofficial patent search, hiring a patent attorney to complete a thorough FTO is generally better.
In cases where the FTO is not relevant (e.g. software), you can upload a simple statement.
If you are uncertain about your Go2Market section, please get in touch, and we can try to help!
The ideation section covers the problem, your solution, and your value proposition. You will answer questions about the value chain and your stakeholders in this section.
The development section covers your technological achievements to date and the next steps to prepare your technology for the market. It also includes a detailed description of the use cases and features of your product. The development section is where you will upload your work plan, your work packages, and information about your team and key partners.
The Go2Market section is the largest of the three. It covers the current state and size of the market, including a comprehensive competition analysis and a SWOT analysis. It also covers the business aspects of your product, including risks, IP, regulations, and scaling. Here you also have to answer questions about your corporate strategy, business model canvas, and finances. The Go2Market section also gives you an opportunity to explain how your product can have broader impacts on Europe and the World.
You will also have to fill out your work packages on the platform. Your work packages will be divided into tasks with individual budgets and deliverables. The work packages are then mapped to other parts of the proposal, such as the value proposition and the team.
The platform will also ask you to upload a financial annexe with five years of financial projections, a pitch deck which you will use if you get to interview, a freedom to operate (FTO) analysis, a data management plan (DMP), and optionally letters of interest or support from partners and investors. You can also upload a ten-page annexe which may include graphics if you choose.
Stage 1 applications can be submitted at any time and are evaluated on a rolling basis. Feedback is provided in 2-4 weeks.
The Stage 1 proposal includes basic information about the company and preliminary questions about the technology, the value proposition, the market and competition, the team, and the risks.
Companies must also submit a ten-page pitch deck and a three-minute video.
The application will be evaluated by four experts who issue “GO” or “NO GO” votes. Applications require at least two “GOs” to proceed to Stage 2.
Stage 2 – Full Application
There are up to four Stage 2 deadlines per year. Typically, the platform will open for submission a few weeks before the deadline. The results are provided within 4-6 weeks.
The Stage 2 proposal is typically 30+ pages of plain text divided into three parts: Ideation, Development, and Go2Market. It includes detailed information about the technology, the competition, the market, and the team. It also includes a detailed budget, go to market strategy, financial plan, and much more.
Companies must also submit the following: a) data management plan, b) freedom to operate analysis, c) financial projections, d) pitch deck to be used at interview, e) letters of support (optional), f) ten-page annex (optional).
The application will be evaluated by three experts and requires three “GO” votes to proceed to Stage 3.
Stage 3 – Interview
During Stage 3, you will present your application to the EIC at an interview. They will ask questions about the commercialisation strategy, team, technological feasibility, pay-offs for the company, and impact.
Stage 1 application: One resubmission with significant improvements. If you are rejected a second time, you must wait 12 months.
Stage 2 Application: One resubmission within the following two deadlines. If it is rejected a second time, you must submit a new Stage 1 application after waiting 12 months.
Stage 3 Interview: There are two possibilities if you are rejected:
Allowed a second chance to interview
Allowed to resubmit a Stage 2 application
If you are rejected a second time you must wait 12 months and submit a new Stage 1 application.
Covers activities from TRL 5/6 to TRL 8
Up to €2.5M
Must be used within two years
Covers activities from TRL 8 to TRL 9
Provided in exchange for equity in the company (typically 10-25%)
Up to €15M
If you only require financing up to TRL 8, you should apply for grant only.
If your innovation still requires significant work to validate and demonstrate in the relevant environment, you should apply for grant first.
If you are ready to go to market in two years but still require financing, you should apply for blended finance (grant + equity).
If you are already at TRL 8 and need financing to commercialise, you can apply for equity only, but you must be able to prove “non-bankability”.
The SME Instrument was a funding program running until June 2019, when it was replaced with the EIC Accelerator. The program is similar, but the application process changed significantly in 2021.
Note that all applications must present a workplan up to and including TRL 9+, even if you do not require equity.
EIC Accelerator Reviews
Recommend to a Friend
Getting the funds
Much to improve in the evaluation process
The application process forces applicants to generate a lot of documentation that can be useful for other applications/investors.
The application is evaluated by several evaluators at each stage. Applicants can get useful feedback from some evaluators.
Some evaluators do not invest enough time to evaluate the project/startup and provide meaningful feedback.
There is no process to criticise/reject absurd evaluations (eg. some evaluators can provide feedback that is clearly out of the scope of the project).
Advice for applicants
- Obtain support from experienced consultants.
- Approach the application process from a wider perspective and use it to improve your busines plan and generate a solid investment deck/busines plan/investment memorandum.
Advice for the Fund
Perform evaluations on EIC evaluators.
Reject evaluators who do not proper work.
Challenging and exhausting application process but highly rewarding outcome
High mount of awarded capital (grant+equity)
Forces applicant to prepare high-quality documentation
Prepares the company for investors
Provides global recognition
Provides extensive feedback
Flexible financing for early-stage startups
High application workload
User unfriendly application forms
All or nothing funding
1 negative opinion from one evaluator out of 100 positive ones means a NO-GO.
Advice for applicants
Look for expert strategic support when preparing for the EIC Accelerator. Do not consider the EIC Accelelerator as an R&D grant. The go-to-market and scale-up strategies are core aspects of the application.
Do not apply if your technology is absolutely unique.
Advice for the Fund
Perform in-depth analysis of the evaluations. There is a HUGE difference between the quality of the feedback given by evaluators. Exclude evaluators who are not given meaningul impact, who do not clearly make an in-depth assessment or who just "copy & paste" excerpts of the proposals in the feedback.