The EIC Accelerator funding (grant and equity, with blended financing option) by the European Innovation Council (EIC) and European Commission (EC) has undergone significant changes over the past years. While it used to be a simple program for startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) to access €2.5 million in grant and €15 million in venture financing per project, it has significantly grown in complexity.
Startups often rely on professional writers, freelancers or consultants to support them but this article aims to reduce the complexity regarding the resubmission mechanisms of the EIC Accelerator application process.
The SME Instrument Pre-2021
The EIC Accelerator has long allowed applicants to resubmit applications in case of a rejection. In 2020 and earlier, it was possible to infinitely resubmit grant proposals and there was no inherent restriction for applicants.
This allowed companies who were unsuccessful in the first submission to become successful through persistence in the sixth submission. It likewise meant that the same company could attend the EIC Accelerator interviews as many times as they were invited and led to an increased workload for all remote evaluators who had to reassess the same proposals again and again.
The 2021+ EIC Accelerator
Since 2021, this process has changed through the introduction of freezing periods which prohibit a company from submitting the same or a similar proposal for 12 months. For better or worse, this has introduced higher stakes for applicants but has also added an additional layer of complexity.
In general, the rule is that each applicant obtains a second chance for every submission stage. If the first application to Step 1 of the EIC Accelerator was unsuccessful, they obtain a second chance. If that is likewise unsuccessful then the company will be unable to apply for 12 months.
The same is true for Step 2 whereas companies that have been rejected twice are frozen for 12 months.
If a company has not been rejected twice in any particular Step then it will not be prohibited from submitting a proposal and if a company has reached a certain Step then it will generally not be sent back to a previous step unless the rejection occurred during the Step 3 interview.
- A rejection in Step 1 means that a company has to reapply to Step 1. A second rejection in Step 1 triggers a freeze period.
- A rejection in Step 2 means that a company has to reapply to Step 2. A second rejection in Step 2 triggers a freeze period.
- A rejection in Step 3 means that a company has to reapply to Step 2 (or directly to Step 3 if invited to do so).
Example of a Typical Case
A company is approved in Step 1 but then rejected in Step 2. Upon resubmitting to Step 2, it then passes successfully and is invited to the Step 3 interview where it is rejected. It is then sent back to Step 2 and asked to reapply.
Since it has only been rejected a single time in Step 2 and once in Step 3, it can still resubmit to the next Step 2 cut-off even though this is technically the third Step 2 submission. This company had one “successful” Step 2 submission and one Step 2 rejection even though the former ended up being rejected in Step 3.
In practice, the “second chance” rule is more akin to a “two strikes, you’re out” rule where two rejections in one Step trigger the freeze period for Step 1 and Step 2 while Step 3 has specialized rules.
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:
January 11th 2023(only EIC Accelerator Open) March 22nd 2023
- June 7th 2023
- October 4th 2023
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:
- 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)