The European Innovation Council (EIC) focuses on stimulating breakthrough and disruptive innovation with a budget of over €3 billion from 2018 to 2020 for the seed stages to scaling-up. It features two instruments: the Pathfinder and the Accelerator. With these pilots, the EIC will be able to provide strong support to any idea, regardless the level of maturity.
The EIC Pathfinder pilot covers from early stage proof-of-concept research up to demonstration of commercial viability (Technology readiness level – TRL 1 to 5). It provides grant-only support to consortia composed by research organisations and companies. It can be bottom-up (no topics pre-defined, ‘FET Open’) or driven by new paradigms (‘FET Proactive’) with pre-defined topics such as nano-technologies, artificial intelligence, health, and clean energy. The EIC Pathfinder also features an ‘innovation launchpad’ which provides up to €100,000 over 18 months to previously funded projects to develop market analysis, business case, technology assessment, IPRs, etc.
To complement the Pathfinder, the EIC Accelerator targets individual SMEs with high-risk, high growth potential with the aim to facilitate the development (from TRL 6), market deployment and scale-up of those innovations and business models deemed not attractive enough for the private capital market (very high risk, long innovation cycle…). To de-risk these innovations, the Commission has reinforced the support with a combination of up to €17.5 million in blended finance (max. €2.5m in grant + €15m in equity).
This pilot of the EIC has been launched upon request of the European Council and will test some of the main features of the future EIC that will be fully fledged under the next framework programme for R&I 2021-2027, Horizon Europe.