European Innovation Council opens €1B funding round for start-ups

09 Apr 2021 | News

Small and medium-sized companies can apply for grants of up to €2.5M and direct equity investments of up to €15M in the first calls

Start-ups can now start to apply for grants and equity investments from the European Innovation Council (EIC) accelerator, the Horizon Europe fund launched last month, with more than €1 billion available in 2021.

Of this, €592 million is for companies in any sector, while €495 million is ring-fenced for health, digital and green technologies.

Grants of up to €2.5 million will provide near-term support, with equity investments of up to €15 million available for scale-up. The goal is to fund companies developing technologies with long lead times that will take longer to produce returns. The public equity funding is also intended to attract private capital.

EIC, the brainchild of the previous EU research commissioner, Carlos Moedas, is now emerging fully-fledged after a three-year pilot phase, in which it financed over 5,000 start-ups and projects. It has a budget of €10 billion for the next seven years of the Horizon Europe research programme, with €1.5 billion due to be disbursed this year.

To manage the grants, a remodelled Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME), now called EISMEA, was launched last week, alongside publication of a new organisation chart that gives an idea of how the Commission will organise the work of the €10 billion start-up fund.

The calls are open, but the overarching framework of Horizon Europe is still waiting for approval by the European Parliament, with the vote scheduled for 26 April. Until then, the EIC can accept and evaluate proposals, but money cannot flow.

The delay in approving the research framework should not affect the calls launched today. While short pitches can be submitted any time, companies must pique the Commission’s interest before being invited to submit full applications by 9 June or 6 October 2021, well after the final Parliament vote.

Other EIC news:

EIC to award €1.5B in 2021, according to latest draft programme

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