Document Formatting Tips for the EIC Accelerator Grant pt.3 (SME Instrument Phase 2)

For part 1 & part 2 of the EIC Accelerator grant formatting tips, please read this & this article.

Proposal Colour

The EIC Accelerator grant (SME Instrument Phase 2) proposal colour should be pleasant, consistent and not distract from the written content. It is recommended to choose one main proposal colour and an optional secondary colour which are both used for headers, stylized text (i.e. the acronym, listings or the company name), bullets, captions and any other special sections.

The main colour should be utilised to simplify navigation through sections (i.e. easy to differentiate between sections and subsections) but not be so distracting that the reader has issues finding the headers.

Blue and green are good and pleasant colours while colours such as bright pink or yellow should be avoided (or be a subtle, secondary colour). In general, colours can be chosen freely but they should be used consistently throughout the proposal to reach a professional look and increase the success chances for the grant.


Watermarks can work well, depending on the type of image used, but it is always best to choose very low opacities (i.e. 2-7%). The ideal images for watermarks are graphics with transparent backgrounds (i.e. an image of the prototype, renderings, stylized concept illustrations or logos) which give the page additional professionalism and can make them look more interesting without overloading them (i.e. using full-page photographs including their background would be too distracting).

Watermarks should be subtle and contain very little information with the majority of the image being blank. It can also be useful to add a watermark only to the background of the bottom half to make it stand out more and to avoid colouring the entire page. Just like the proposal colour, the watermark should add to the presentation of the written grant application but not undermine it by reducing the readability of the text or by being unrelated and distracting.

Images and Tables

Most images and tables shown in the proposal should be created specifically for the application since existing ones might not fit the colour scheme, are of low resolution or do not have suitable font sizes.

Market projections, charts or other relevant graphics should be reproduced to yield high-quality images whenever needed. It is recommended to have an image or table on each (or every other) page of Document 1 which helps in loosening up the text and making the content easier to consume.

Every image or table used in the proposal should be well placed according to the context of the current section and, including its caption, be self-explanatory (i.e. an image should underlie or deepen a point rather than making a new one). Tips for developing designs are given here: EIC Accelerator Proposal Design: Helpful Resources and Graphics (SME Instrument)

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)