For Document 1 writing tips, please view: Writing an EIC Accelerator Application: Microsoft Word vs. Adobe InDesign (SME Instrument Writing)
Illustrations & Graphics
While writing a well-narrated EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2) proposal is important, it cannot be overstated how essential clear and visually appealing graphics are for a high-quality application. Graphics can come in the form of a simple pie chart, a project overview (i.e. with pictograms – see Resources for Design), a collection of impactful numbers to highlight the market opportunity or a simple logo to place on the cover page.
Great care should be placed on creating and improving every image in the proposal from the first design up to the quality control in the exported PDF. The best tools for this purpose are vector graphic software solutions, namely Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or similar programs (see Word vs. Indesign for Document 1).
Often, it can make sense for a writer or consultant to create graphs in Microsoft Excel (i.e. pie charts, customer analysis, financial projections, etc.) and then transfer these into a vector graphics software to make them more appealing for the proposal. I recommend doing this for all Excel-created images to have more creative control over the output.
Illustrator does also offer some data analysis tools (i.e. tables and pie chart creation) but it is usually better to rely on spreadsheet software which can also be used to create financial projections and budget calculations.
Lastly, it can be useful to utilize image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop for simple tasks such as removing backgrounds, creating software device overlays and to directly change certain parts of images (see tips on where to find templates).
This can be essential in many situations, especially if the technology and presentation do not look very mature (i.e. simple screen-shots instead of computer monitor placements) or if it contains too many distracting aspects (i.e. backgrounds or unrelated parts in the image). Utilizing Photoshop is optional but such details can make a simple product image or software screen-shot look significantly more impressive.
Financials (Document 3)
The financial documents are best prepared with spreadsheet software such as Excel, Google Docs or OpenOffice Calc since these must be uploaded in XLS(X) or ODS file formats. It is also useful to have separate spreadsheets for the workpakages (i.e. project budget, subcontracting, resources, hiring, etc.) and for the financial projections (i.e. assumptions, market analysis, break-downs, ROI, etc.) which are not directly found in the simplified Document 3 but are needed to write Document 1.
Pitch Deck (Document 4)
The pitch deck follows a regular 16:9 presentation format which is usually best achieved by Microsoft PowerPoint or similar slide creation software. If someone is already working with InDesign then it can be more practical to also use it for the preparation of the pitch deck since vector graphics and other images can be easily copied in-between documents.
Similar to the benefits of InDesign over Word, the same advantages also apply to the slide preparation since the final Document 4 is uploaded as a PDF with distinct file size limitations (i.e. see Pitching vs. Writing).
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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: