The EIC Accelerator
The EIC Accelerator (previously known as SME Instrument) is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot that supports top-class innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and scientists with funding opportunities and acceleration services. The Accelerator 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.
The main purpose is to support high-risk and high-potential ideas. Selected companies receive funding – up to € 2.5 million grant or up to € 15 million equity funding - and are offered business coaching and mentoring to scale up their innovation idea. They get extra acceleration services to connect with investors, corporates, and likeminded entrepreneurs. The funded activities could include trials, prototyping, validation, demonstration and testing in real-world conditions, and market replication.
Green Deal – also on the agenda of SME support
The European Green Deal is the EUs roadmap for making the EU's economy sustainable and to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. Green Deal policy areas include clean energy, sustainable industry, building and renovating, sustainable mobility, biodiversity, sustainable food systems, eliminating pollution and climate neutrality.
The 19th of May cut off deadline of the EIC Accelerator is specifically limited to innovative ideas that align with Green Deal principles. Applicants will be able to apply with ideas specifically concentrating on those innovations that fuel the societal transition towards sustainability while supporting EU’s competitiveness and leadership in clean technologies. Of the total budget for 2020, which is €819.04 million, a whopping 37% is dedicated to the call open for the Green Deal topic!
Changing policy instruments to promote green innovation is also the focus of Interreg Europe project GRESS. The partners work towards improving policies for SMEs' competitiveness by strengthening capacities to trigger and support sustainable and competitive start-ups and spin-offs within the green economy.
Gender Equality – EIC Accelerator supports a healthier gender balance among SMEs
Another change for the remaining calls of this year (19th of May and 7th of October) is the priority given to female entrepreneurs. More precisely, in the pool of shortlisted applications for the interviews, the EIC Accelerator aims at having at least 25% of the proposals submitted by women-led SMEs (including start-ups).
According to the European Commission 'women constitute 52% of the total European population but only 34.4% of the EU self-employed and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs' which means that 'female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are an under-exploited source of economic growth and jobs that should be further developed.' The decision to ensure a certain degree of female representation in the second round of the EIC Accelerator application process is a concrete and visible step by the EC to tackle this issue.
This challenge is also the focal point of the Interreg Europe project FEMINA which works to ensure that its selected policy instruments are integrated with measures to promote female engagement in high-tech sectors, with a focus on RIS3 sectors. One of the goals of the project is to support an increase in female participation in high-tech entrepreneurship, employment and leadership.
An interesting shift of focus, an opportunity to take
The EIC Accelerator is known as a hyper competitive grant & equity funding opportunity. But, if your company is focused on environmentally sustainable solutions and/or you are a female CEO, these changes in the following calls might just give you the elevated chance to be successful in the upcoming application rounds.
- Visit the EIC Accelerator Website to acquaint yourself with all the application criteria
- Apply for the EIC grant or equity funding through the Horizon 2020 funding and tenders portal
- Keep track of EIC Accelerator related news and find some useful tips on how to write good proposals at Access2EIC national contact points for innovation
- Read about the European Green Deal
Image credit: Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels
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