The SME Instrument becomes the EIC Accelerator, offering optional equity investment in addition to a grant. From today, innovative companies can apply for a grant only or up to 17.5 million in combined grant and equity financing to scale-up quickly and effectively.
The grants available will be between € 0.5 and 2.5 million and equity investment can amount up to €15 million. The aim is to increase support for ground-breaking concepts that could shape new markets or disrupt existing ones in Europe and worldwide.
A full cycle of innovation support
The EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument) is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. It will support high-potential enterprises (mainly small and medium-sized - SMEs), with financing as well as coaching and mentoring, to develop and bring to market new products, services and business models that could drive economic growth, filling the market gap by support innovation considered ‘high-risk’ for private investors. It is complemented by the EIC Pathfinder pilot, which supports advanced technologies/early-stage innovation. The EIC Fast Track to Innovation will continue to offer support for consortia including SMEs and industrial players. Together these instruments of the EIC cover the entire innovation chain.
The EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument) is designed for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMES) with radically new ideas underpinned by a business plan for rolling out marketable innovation solutions and with ambitions to scale up. It targets single for-profit SMEs only - this means that single companies only (including young companies and start-ups) can apply (as opposed to project consortia). There are no set topics, so companies from all sectors can apply.
Grants will finance activities from TRL 6-8. Activities above TRL 8 will financed only through blended finance. Applicants will be asked to indicate if they want blended finance and the amount requested for equity. The maximum is € 15 million for equity investement.
Business acceleration services and coaching will still be available for all SMEs participating in the EIC pilot programmes (Accelerator, Pathfinder, Fast-Track to Innovation). A brand new set of business acceleration service events will be available in autumn 2019.
For more details, documents and calls visit the Horizon 2020 Funding and Tenders Portal.
See how the EIC pilot supports the full innovation cycle by expanding the infographic below:
Currently in its pilot phase, the EIC will become a ‘fully-fledged’ reality from 2021 under the next EU research and innovation programme Horizon Europe (2021-2027). The Commission has proposed to dedicate €10 billion to the EIC under Horizon Europe for support to innovators through two main funding instruments – the Pathfinder for advanced research (for early-stage research) and the Accelerator, a blended financing model (grants plus equity).
The Commission will announce shortly the appointment of 15 to 20 innovation leaders to an EIC Advisory Board to oversee the EIC pilot, prepare the future EIC, and champion the EIC globally. In addition, a call for recruitment will be published in June to recruit a first set of “programme managers” with leading expertise in new technologies to provide full-time, hands-on support for projects.