The EIC Accelerator: SMEs as key players of the innovation processes

March, 2, 2021

Horizon Europe is the under-launch perspective for research and innovation in Europe to address global challenges and stimulate European competitiveness. A pivotal role on the road to the market has been dedicated to SMEs as innovation players so as to make research results used and to generate impact. The flagship programme for SMEs will be the EIC (European Innovation Council) Accelerator.

Launched in September 2019 by the European Commission as a pilot in the perspective of Horizon Europe, the “Accelerator” will replace the SME Instrument (Phase 2).

The EIC makes use of a multifold toolset, in order to deal with the full spectrum of the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), which describe the Technological Maturity of an innovative project, supporting the entire development period, from idea to commercialization.

Integrated into the Horizon Europe 3rd pillar (“Innovative Europe”), the EIC will embed three major funding pathways:

  • the “EIC Pathfinder” (novel ideas for radically new technologies),
  • the “EIC Activities” (transformation of research results into innovation)
  • the “EIC Accelerator” (deployment of innovation to market) programmes.

EIC Accelerator, will be the funding instrument for SMEs and start-ups that develop breakthrough innovation projects with high growth potential. At the same time, amongst the EIC activities the Fast Track for Innovation will be made available, which will be devoted to consortia and is to be presented in a dedicated focus.  

The Accelerator foresees a mixed funding approach with a grant up to €2.5m (in order to fund innovation activities – TRL 5-8) and an equity investment up to €15m (in order to go to market – TRL 9), under specific highly risky market conditions.

Under Horizon Europe, the EIC is expected to benefit from a total budget of around €10 billion over 7 years, with a large majority of the funds allocated to the EIC Accelerator programme.

The first EIC Accelerator call under this new configuration in Horizon Europe will open in the 1st half of 2021: the first deadline for the full application stage is planned for 9 June 2021 and the 2nd for 6 October. Both open calls and challenge-driven calls will take place simultaneously on these deadlines.

You can learn more about EIC Programme here.

If you are interested in pursuing EU project opportunities with INSME, feel free to contact us to discuss further.

Source: Antonello Fiorucci

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