Document Formatting Tips for the EIC Accelerator Grant pt.1 (SME Instrument Phase 2)

For the EIC Accelerator Grant (SME Instrument Phase 2), the design of the text, headers and pages are an important factor in making an overall positive impression on the evaluators of the proposal. As such, a clean and easy-to-read structure should always be prioritized over an overloaded block of text without any formatting or with too much formatting which can be distracting.

Practical tips for the professional page design of a successful, written application are:


Use sub-sections whenever you are addressing a different aspect of the proposal. For example, Section 2 of Document 1 might begin with the sub-section Users and then utilize more sub-sections such as User needs, Unique Selling Points and Customer Interest to clearly structure the text.

These sub-sections can be created as the author sees fit and the headers should be formatted according to their hierarchy. This means that Header 1 should be the largest or most eye-popping (i.e. largest font-size, special background, underlined, etc.) while Header 5 should be closest to the regular text (i.e. just a different colour or bold font settings).


Use indents to make paragraphs and lists easier to read. Indents are a very useful tool for the separation of headers and paragraphs (i.e. top and bottom indents before and after a line), as well as for the use of listings through left indents (i.e. applying a left indent on a paragraph except for its first line).

Indents cost space so they should only be used when they are needed to loosen up the text (i.e. headers) or to display shorter lists (i.e. if lists span multiple pages, indents might take up too much space).

Special Characters and Glyphs

Use symbols such as checkmarks, crosses or numbers such as 1/2/3, i/ii/iii, I/II/III and ❶/❷/❸ for your lists to separate them from the main text and to provide a clearer structure.

Colours are also useful in highlighting certain aspects (i.e. red and green) to allow an intuitive assessment of what you are seeking to communicate (i.e. competitive differentiators, market problems, USP’s, etc.).


Every reference in the text should be given as a footnote on the bottom of the respective page with a simple numbering in a superscript format after the end of the sentence or a comma if it is cited mid-sentence (i.e. Fact.1). The footnotes should be presented in a clear and systematic way with blog or news articles being listed as Title (Source) and information on authors or publication date being optional.

Scientific articles should be cited following a particular style guide for publications which usually follows the structure of author name(s), title, journal name, volume, year, pages but these can vary depending on the respective style guide (i.e. style guide from the American Chemical Society).

The official proposal template states that 11 pt should be the minimum font size but 9 pt can be used for footnotes and graphics without any issues.

For part 2 of the EIC Accelerator grant formatting tips, please read this article (will be available once published).

This article was last modified on Oct 9, 2020 @ 11:11

These tips are not only useful for European startups, professional writers, consultants and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) but are generally recommended when writing a business plan or investor documents.

Deadlines: Post-Horizon 2020, the EIC Accelerator accepts Step 1 submissions now while the deadlines for the full applications (Step 2) under Horizon Europe are:

  • Step 1 (short proposal)
    • open now
  • Step 2 (business plan)
    • 1st cut-off: (early 2024)
    • 2nd cut-off: -
    • 3rd cut-off: -
    • 4th cut-off: -
  • Step 3 (interview)
    • 1st cut-off: -
    • 2nd cut-off: -
    • 3rd cut-off: -
    • 4th cut-off: January 29th to February 9th 2024 (extended again)

The Step 1 applications must be submitted weeks in advance of Step 2. The next EIC Accelerator cut-off for Step 2 (full proposal) can be found here. After Brexit, UK companies can still apply to the EIC Accelerator under Horizon Europe albeit with non-dilutive grant applications only - thereby excluding equity-financing.

Contact: You can reach out to us via this contact form to work with a professional consultant.

EU, UK & US Startups: Alternative financing options for EU, UK and US innovation startups are the EIC Pathfinder (combining Future and Emerging Technologies - FET Open & FET Proactive) with €4M per project, Thematic Priorities, European Innovation Partnerships (EIP), Innovate UK with £3M (for UK-companies only) as well as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants with $1M (for US-companies only).

Any more questions? View the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!

by Stephan Segler, PhD
Professional Grant Consultant at Segler Consulting

General information on the EIC Accelerator template, professional grant writing and how to prepare a successful application can be found in the following articles:

A Quick FTO Guide for EIC Accelerator Applicants in a Rush

2023 Budget Allocations for EIC Pathfinder, Transition and Accelerator

Developing the Unique Selling Points (USP) for the EIC Accelerator

Explaining the Resubmission Process for the EIC Accelerator

A Short but Comprehensive Explanation of the EIC Accelerator

EIC Accelerator Success Cases

Deciding Between EIC Pathfinder, Transition and Accelerator

A Winning Candidate for the EIC Accelerator

EIC Accelerator Interview Preparation Process: Scripting the Pitch (Part 1)