Innovations for the European corporate future: EU’s additional support

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Due to negative pandemic effect on trade and growth, corporate activities in the EU member states lack adequate financial support. Here comes the EU’s assistance through the European Innovation Council, EIC is a one-stop-shop for innovators. Launched this March 2021 and a budget of over €10 billion for 2021-27, it provides support from the early-stage scientific research on breakthrough technologies, to transitioning research results into commercial opportunities. The development and scaling up of innovative start-ups and SMEs was dubbed the “accelerator”.

As a key novelty of Horizon Europe program, the EIC builds on a successful pilot phase that ran from 2018-2020 and the Future and Emerging Technologies programs, which supported over 5,000 SMEs and start-ups and over 330 projects research projects.


Supporting innovative research

Following the launch of the European Innovation Council (EIC) and the announcement of the first funding opportunities, the Commission opened the first EIC Accelerator calls. The funding worth over €1 billion aims to help scale up start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses that have the potential to achieve high impact. While over half of the funding is open to breakthrough innovations in any field, €495 million are earmarked for innovations that support the European Green Deal as well as digital and health technologies.


The EIC accelerator supports the later stages of technology development as well as scale-up. The technology component of the innovation must therefore have been tested and validated in a laboratory or other relevant environment. It complements two other EIC programmes: the ‘EIC Pathfinder’ that supports interdisciplinary teams of researchers to realize their visions for scientific and technological breakthroughs, as well as ‘EIC Transition’ that aims at transforming research results into innovation opportunities.

More information on the first EIC Accelerator and Pathfinder calls is available on the EIC website; potential applicants can also contact the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency. See:


Commissioner for European innovation, research and education Mariya Gabriel, underlined that the EIC Accelerator represents a unique EU’s funding instrument of the EU as it supports the development of breakthrough innovations through crowding-in private investors and offering support services to scale up. Supporting innovation, the member states will manage to reach the forefront of new technologies in assisting in combating health, environmental and societal challenges. Reference to: – 9.04.2021.


The EIC Accelerator’s strategy

The EIC Accelerator focuses on scientific discoveries or technological breakthroughs, which need significant funding over a longer timeframe before returns can be generated. Such innovations often struggle to attract financing because the risks and time involved are generally too high. This funding enables the innovators to attract the full investment amounts that are needed to scale up in a shorter timeframe.

The EIC Accelerator supports individual SMEs, in particular startups and spinout companies to develop and scale-up game-changing innovations; in some cases small mid-caps (up to 500 employees) can be supported too.

The EIC Accelerator provides substantial financial support with: a) grant funding of up to €2.5 million for innovation development costs, and b) direct equity investments of up to €15 million managed by the EIC Fund. The EIC’s selected companies are able to receive coaching, mentoring, access to investors and corporate entities, etc. as part of the EIC community.

The EIC Accelerator’s funding targets breakthrough innovations with the following major impacts on: a) strategic digital and health technologies, and b) “green deal” innovations for the states’ socio-economic recovery and resilience.

The cut-off dates for 2021 (for both Accelerator Open and Accelerator challenges) are: Wednesday, 9 June and Wednesday 6 October.

The EIC welcomes applications from innovators in all EU states and countries associated to the Horizon Europe program; it particularly welcomes applications from startups and SMEs with female CEOs. More in:


The EIC Accelerator acts as a catalyst to crowd in other investors necessary for amplifying the scale of the innovations. A unique financing model offers start-ups and SMEs grants of up to €2.5 million combined with equity investments through the EIC Fund ranging from €500,000 to €15 million. In addition to financial support, all projects benefit from a range of the EU’s “business acceleration services” that provide access to leading expertise, corporations, investors and ecosystem actors.  

On Business Acceleration Services, see:


The Commission has also opened the EIC Pathfinder program, with a budget of €168 million. Interdisciplinary teams of researchers can apply for research and innovation grants that will support to realize their breakthrough ideas and have a transformative positive effect on socio-economic development. Grants that vary from €3 to €4 million will focus on game-changing technologies that will address global challenges and improve peoples’ wellbeing.


More information in the Commission’s websites: – EIC Accelerator calls; – EIC Pathfinder call; – EIC Work Programme 2021; – European Innovation Council website; – Press release: Commission launches European Innovation Council to help turn scientific ideas into breakthrough innovations; – Video of the applicant’s day of 19 March 2021.

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