New Horizon 2020 SME instrument: EIC Accelerator

26 August 2020

As per 1 January 2020, the EIC Accelerator has replaced the previous Horizon 2020 SME instrument. In this article, we explain the most important changes and conditions of the new EIC Accelerator scheme.

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Written by:
Roy Hoven Manager Subsidiefocus

The EIC Accelerator scheme

The European Innovation Council Accelerator (EIC) is a European subsidy for SME entrepreneurs who wish to boost the development of their high-quality innovative products to such an extent that these are nearly ready for market introduction.

You can qualify for a grant if your innovation is in the prototype development phase. The subsidy amounts to 70% of the costs with a maximum amount of € 2.5 million. In addition to this grant of € 2.5 million, and new to the EIC Accelerator, SME companies may also apply for an equity investment of € 15 million in order to scale up their validated innovation.

These high amounts offer a unique opportunity to actually introduce your innovation to the market, however, this also results in this subsidy scheme being extremely popular and competitive. Your grant application for that matter competes in every call for proposals with thousands of SME companies across Europe for the same funding. At the end of the day, only a handful of companies will receive the subsidy. 

What has changed in comparison with the Horizon 2020 SME instrument?

A comparison with the Horizon 2020 SME instrument shows some notable changes:

  • The EIC Accelerator Pilot offers the opportunity to apply for an equity investment of € 15 million, which was not possible for the SME instrument. With this equity investment, the European Commission wishes to support promising innovations to such an extent that they can really succeed.
  • When assessing new subsidy applications, special attention will be paid to the following criteria:
    • Scalability: to which extent will the company be able to scale up and by doing so, create an impact? This has to be substantiated with figures for the next six years. 
    • (Non-)Bankability: although some investments in the past are allowed, the company should not have received too high investments. Otherwise there is no need for obtaining the grant and the equity.
    • An innovation will only qualify if it is a ‘need to have’, meaning that the innovation will solve an existing societal problem.
    • Currently, an innovation should at least be at Technology Ready Level (TRL) 6 in order to meet the criteria, which means that the innovation should be in the prototype development phase in order to qualify. However, because of the huge numbers of applications, the Commission intends to raise the bar to TRL 7, which means the prototype has to be already developed. As a result, the development of the prototype itself no longer qualifies for funding.

The funding opportunities for 2020

For this year, there were two dates for submitting a subsidy application of which only one is left, namely 7 October. For the two calls, in total, € 630.6 million has been made available.

It is important to mention that for the last call for proposals for 2020, the Commission wants to allocate at least 20% of the available budget to companies led by women. 

More information

Are you interested and do you want to find out more about the opportunities the EIC Accelerator programme offers? Then please contact Roy Hoven by calling +31 (0)73-6465475 or send Roy an email.

Subsidiefocus has ample experience with the comprehensive Horizon 2020-programme and successfully applied for several companies for the Horizon 2020 subsidy in the past few years. We would like to get to know you and your innovation and will be more than happy to assess whether you too are eligible for this subsidy scheme!

Want more information on the EIC Accelerator? Our specialist will gladly assist you!

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Portrait photo of Roy Hoven
Manager Subsidiefocus
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European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot

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