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

For part 1 of the EIC Accelerator grant formatting tips, please read this article.

Hyper-links, cross-references and bookmarks

It is recommended for a professional writer or consultant to use hyperlinks (i.e. for footnotes and for in-text references such as company names), cross-references (i.e. to sections in the same document) and bookmarks throughout the proposal to make it appear more interactive and also to simplify the navigation between sections.

The reader will appreciate the attention to detail and, since many proposal sections are addressing similar parts, cross-references can help to avoid repetitions and increase the chance of success. For example, the Risk Mitigation Strategies section can cross-reference to both the Market barriers and the Risk Analysis sections via hyperlinks and page numbers since these are all interrelated.

Hyperlinks for web-pages should be in the colour blue while hyper-links for in-document cross-references should be a different colour (i.e. orange, purple or grey) to differentiate between them. Bookmarks should be added so that they appear in the final PDF document with the appropriate hierarchies found in the template (i.e. Document 1 > Section 1 > Idea and Solution > The Problem).

The final proposal will be a single PDF document (i.e. the merged Documents 1-4) which means that all bookmarks will be displayed in a single window. This makes it important to have the document numbers (i.e. Document 1 and Document 2) as the top hierarchy levels so that they retain their structure in the merged PDF.

For information on the different documents, see Writing an EIC Accelerator Application: Microsoft Word vs. Adobe InDesign (SME Instrument Writing).


Every figure and table should have a description with the captions for figures being below the object and table captions being above. The best (and cleanest) way of referring to figures or tables is to introduce them at the end of a sentence (i.e. in brackets) which incentivises you to properly explain something in the text first instead of directly asking the reader to look at the figure (Table 1 & Figure 2).

Page design

Document 1 has strict page margins but you can add images such as logos, watermarks or text such as the company name or the acronym to the side of the page which can enhance the overall presentation. The key is to remain subtle and professional while never overloading the page with visual input.

The evaluation of the proposal will mainly take the written content into account but the overall impression (i.e. consistency, quality and design) will also be an important factor. Improving the design can, on its own, even increase the score of a proposal after a re-submission without having changed the text.

Page numbers should always be included and the design of a submitted proposal should be tested by downloading the watermarked PDF file from the Funding and Tender Portal and then checking if the design on the margins is still visible.

For part 3 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 @ 11:10

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.

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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)