The introduction of an EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2) application is one of the most important sections and it is one on which I spend a disproportionate amount of time on. Outside of researching and understanding a certain innovative technology, understanding the context of the innovation in terms of the market, trends, policies and financial pressures is an utmost priority.
It is not uncommon for me to rewrite the introduction of a proposal multiple times until I feel that it perfectly reflects the impact of the innovation. The introduction is a central point which sets-up every other section of the proposal since the Unique Selling Points (USP), the inefficiencies of competing technologies, the difficulties of realising a disruptive technology and the reason why the EU should care about the problem are all connected here.
The introduction creates the narrative for the application which directly relates to its impact. The narrative is designed to take the reader on a journey which makes sense. It makes sense that this is a problem. It makes sense that your customers want this. It makes sense that nobody else has accomplished this. It makes sense that your competitors are not as good. It makes sense that the EU needs this.
The ideal introduction presents a problem and clearly identifies how there is a missing link between what the EU wants and what it needs to avoid. It presents the reader with a puzzle and illustrates what the negative repercussions would be if there was no innovation or no new solution to this problem.
While there are no direct evaluation criteria for the narrative, there are many items which relate to the overall impression, the plausibility or the impact of the proposed innovation project. Especially the latter is one of the three main criteria for the evaluation of an EIC Accelerator project (i.e. impact, excellence and implementation).
While each of these three criteria is weighted equally to determine the score (i.e. scoring out of the maximum 15 points), the ranking (i.e. the order in which companies are selected for funding) for proposals with equal scores are determined by prioritizing the impact criterion, then the excellence criterion and the gender balance as a third priority (see Evaluation Guide and EIC Accelerator Guide). This is significant since identical scores are not unlikely with 1,500+ applications per call.
The following is a parable which exemplifies what should be avoided when writing an introduction and constructing a narrative:
A man searches for a lost item at night under a bright street light. A passer-by stops and asks him what he is searching for and where he has lost it, to which the man responds: “I have lost my key far away in the shadows but I prefer to search here since its easier to find things.”
There is no point in choosing an easy-to-write introduction which does not highlight the impact of the innovation and does not make the problem relevant to the EU since the chances of receiving the grant would be minuscule. Always make sure that your introduction will lead exactly to where your innovation is.
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) are January 11th 2023 (only EIC Accelerator Open), March 22nd 2023, June 7th 2023 and October 4th 2023 under Horizon Europe. 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).
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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:
- EIC Accelerator Interviews: Pitch Deck vs. Proposal Documents (SME Instrument)
- Choosing a Good Project for the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2)
- The EIC Accelerator Budget: Grant vs. Blended Finance (SME Instrument Phase 2)
- EIC Accelerator – Introduction and Blended Finance (SME Instrument Phase 2)
- EIC-Accelerator Writing: Providing the Missing Link (SME Instrument Phase 2)
- The Biggest Mistakes When Applying to the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2)
- Identifying a Broad Vision for an EIC Accelerator Project (SME Instrument Phase 2)