How long does it take to apply for the EIC Accelerator? (Grant proposal timeline)

The EIC Accelerator funding (grant and equity, with blended financing option) by the European Commission (EC) and European Innovation Council (EIC) is designed for startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME). It provides €2.5 million in grant and €15 million in venture financing per project and is often supported by professional writers, freelancers or consultants (see Comprehensive Explanation).

This article presents a brief explanation of the timeline for the EIC Accelerator and aims to clarify how much time is needed to prepare all documents and go through the complete process.

Step 1: The Short Application

The Step 1 proposal for the EIC Accelerator requires 3 core documents, namely the proposal text, the pitch deck and a short video. In general, one can begin the writing and preparation process with any of these documents but it is recommended to begin with the written proposal, followed by the pitch deck and, lastly, the pitch video.

The reason for this order is that the written proposal will be the frame for how the application is presented to the EIC which will likely require adjustments of existing presentations and documents that a company might have available. An existing pitch deck might not be suitable for the EIC Accelerator so it is advisable to first frame the text in the most beneficial way and then move toward the annexes.

Since the pitch video is the most difficult to change in post-production, it is recommended to record it in the end so that there are no open questions regarding the presentation of the project to the EIC.

1.1 Proposal Text

The proposal text follows an online form on the EIC’s website which consists of a variety of questions. Each question provides a certain space (i.e. 1,000 or 500 characters) for a response which inherently limits the comprehensiveness of the application. The total number of text boxes that need to be written will depend on a variety of interactive functions such as the number of features & use cases, the risks and the staff.

In general, if a writer has a deep understanding of the company and the technology beforehand and is a fast as well as efficient writer then the text can be prepared in less than one week. If the project still lacks research and requires re-developments or customizations of the market, technology or the overall narrative then at least two to three weeks are necessary.

Note: Many companies have large amounts of data and texts from other proposals or presentations available but these generally cannot be used directly in an EIC Accelerator application without re-writing them due to the specific questions and space restrictions.

1.2 Pitch Deck

The pitch deck for Step 1 of the EIC Accelerator is generally limited to 10 slides (i.e. 11 slides incl. the title page). This reduces the amount of work needed for this document but can also introduce additional restrictions in case a company only has a variety of longer pitch decks available (see Read Deck).

The pitch deck often requires the professional grant writer to summarise existing pitch decks and to re-shape them into a narrative that is aligned with the EIC Accelerator. Even with a broad set of existing slides and pitch decks, this task can still require at least one or more days.

1.3 Pitch Video

While shooting a video for the EIC Accelerator can seem like a complex task, it is relatively simple and the process complexity will largely depend on the desired outcome. Since the EIC Accelerator videos will not be graded on their production quality, it would be sufficient to simply record a video call and upload it (see Video Preparation).

Still, some minimal production quality and editing are recommended since the video will likely be watched in each subsequent step of the evaluation process even up to the final Step 3 interviews.

In some cases, companies already have certain video footage available and, since there are no rules regarding what is and what is not allowed, they are free to simply use advertisements, interviews or other footage to present their project without recording any new material.

For all companies that do not have sufficient footage available, the general tasks for the pitch video creation are:

  1. Scripting
  2. Recording
  3. Editing

1.3.1 Scripting

Once the main proposal document has been completed, the scripting for a 3-minute video can be completed within a single day (see Scripting the Video).

1.3.2 Recording

The recording session with the key team members can likewise be performed in a single day since the footage per team member will be limited to one minute on average in the case of three participants.

1.3.3 Editing

The editing of a video generally requires more time than other parts but, since the video will have a maximum length of 3 minutes, it will still be possible to complete the post-production (i.e. cutting, titles, footage, color grading, audio) in a single day.

This timeline would increase if the editor creates animations or uses external footage to improve the video which is a creative process and will require more work.

1.4 Financials & Deliverables

While not part of the submitted Step 1 documents, it is critical to plan certain aspects of the project in Step 1 even though they will only be requested in Step 2. Such documents are related to the budget, the financials and the deliverables.

While it is unlikely that the evaluators would care if these aspects have been changed from Step 1 to Step 2, it is useful to already align all project cornerstones in the first Step. If this point is neglected, an evaluator might leave a criticism in the Step 1 evaluation which will be read by the Step 2 evaluators and might add additional scrutiny.

It is useful to decide on the general budget of the project (i.e. grant and equity – see Explanation), the financials of the company (i.e. preparing preliminary financial projections) and to prepare a general structure of the workpackages which must be presented as deliverables in Step 1.

These tasks are part of the writing process for the main proposal text.

1.5 Total Time for Step 1

1.5.1 Duration

An EIC Accelerator applicant should plan 1 month for the Step 1 document preparations but it is possible to prepare the documents in under 2 weeks if no research or re-development are needed.

1.5.2 Evaluation

The evaluation of the Step 1 proposal can take just a few days or multiple weeks depending on the workload experienced by the EIC’s remote evaluators. In general, a duration of 3 weeks should be expected but, if an applicant already has all the necessary templates, they can begin the Step 2 writing process as they wait for the Step 1 result.

Step 2: The Business Plan

The business plan is the most difficult and lengthy step in the EIC Accelerator process which consists of a main document and a variety of annexes such as:

  1. Letters of Intent (LOI)
  2. Pitch Deck
  3. Freedom to Operate Analysis (FTO)
  4. Data Management Plan (DMP)
  5. 10-Page Annex
  6. Financial Spreadsheet

2.1 Proposal Text

The proposal text is provided through an online form similar to the Step 1 application. In fact, some sections from Step 1 are automatically added to Step 2 since they present the same questions.

In general, the proposal text for Step 2 is very long and far exceeds the length of the documents prior to 2021 when the complete EIC Accelerator application template was reshaped.

2.2 Annexes

The EIC Accelerator’s Step 2 application allows a variety of mandatory and optional annexes to be uploaded which include Letters of Intent (LOI), a Freedom to Operate Analysis (FTO – see FTO Guide), a Data Management Plan (DMP), a financial spreadsheet, a pitch deck (see Pitch Interview) and a free 10-page overview.

2.2.1 Letters of Intent (LOI)

It can generally take weeks or even months to obtain LOI’s from relevant stakeholders since every company is busy and will likely not act rapidly. It is therefore advisable to send out requests for LOI’s as early as possible to maximize the chances of obtaining them before the Step 2 deadline (see Cut-Off’s).

This upload section dedicated to LOI’s can also be used to include documents such as contracts, customer lists, patent applications or other critical documents (i.e. translations).

2.2.2 Pitch Deck

The Step 2 pitch deck will follow a similar structure as the Step 1 pitch deck, albeit the page restriction has been removed which allows longer presentations and a rich appendix.

2.2.3 Freedom to Operate Analysis (FTO)

Most companies in the DeepTech or innovation space have an FTO available since it is a critical component of any innovative venture. For any company without an FTO, it is advisable to either prepare one in-house (see FTO Analysis) or to contract a law firm for the preparation.

2.2.4 Data Management Plan (DMP)

The DMP can be easily obtained through an online template but, in case a company has no DMP prepared, the EIC Accelerator allows a simple description of data handling to be added through a few sentences that can be prepared in under 30 minutes.

2.2.5 10-Pager

A 10-page annex can be uploaded which can be prepared in a single day since it will heavily feature images and photographs rather than additional text. This is due to the restriction of the EIC Accelerator’s main proposal text which is devoid of any images. The 10-pager, therefore, acts as a visual guide to the proposal, a company overview and a reference library.

2.2.6 Financials

The financial template consists of a single spreadsheet that must be filled. Since every company should have ample financial data in-house, it can be prepared rapidly. For applicants inexperienced with the EIC Accelerator, it can still be difficult to adjust to the particular format but an experienced grant writer can prepare the document in a single day.

2.3 Total Time for Step 2

2.3.1 Duration

Each applicant should allocate at least two months for the preparation of the EIC Accelerator Step 2 application.

2.3.2 Evaluation

The evaluation will approximately take 3-6 weeks after the submission of the EIC Accelerator Step 2 application but can also take longer. Since the Step 2 deadlines are set, in contrast to the Step 1 application which is open anytime, there are pre-defined time slots for the Step 2 applications and Step 3 interviews. As a result, the evaluation of Step 2 can take longer or be faster depending on the duration until the next Step 3 interviews.

Step 3: The Jury Interview

The preparation for the jury interview should be extensive and contain at least 5 practice calls while more are advisable (see Interview). It should likewise include a detailed analysis of all proposal materials in case some of the interviewees are unfamiliar with them.

3.1 Duration

The time needed for this preparation will depend on the speed of the EIC’s Step 2 evaluations and the available time until the interview week. At least 2 weeks should be planned for the interview preparation.

3.2 Evaluation

It generally takes 3-6 weeks until the Step 3 results will be published.

Resubmissions and Freezing Periods

The presented timelines in this article are indicative and there are a variety of factors that have not been discussed but can greatly change the time required for an application. There are fast-track programs that allow applicants to skip Step 1 of the application process, freezing periods of 12 months that block further submissions in case of multiple rejections, Step 2 deadlines that might be removed and other variables that must be taken into account.

There is no normal EIC Accelerator timeline for rejected or funded companies since there is a high degree of randomness in the evaluation process. Rejections and resubmissions are very common and can easily prolong the duration by multiple months.

For example, if a freezing period that prohibits further submissions for 12 months is reached then the application timeline will be prolonged by a year.


The EIC Accelerator remains a high-risk program and it is generally advisable to contract an external consultant for the preparation (see Contact) since it is lengthy, unpredictable and often tedious.

Additionally, any company that has a high chance of obtaining the EIC Accelerator funding is often too busy working on their innovation to spend multiple months or years with the EIC’s lengthy application process which renders outsourcing an essential step.

A company starting in Step 1 and obtaining the Step 3 GO grading (i.e. approval of funding) within 6 months is considered fast and this is generally only possible if no rejections occur in any of the three Steps. In contrast, obtaining at least one rejection in Step 2 or Step 3 is common and timelines for most applicants are often significantly longer than 6 months.

Additionally, the issuance of the grant and equity financing will likewise incur certain delays whereas the former is often obtained fast while the latter will be subject to additional due diligence.

This article was last modified on Mar 27, 2023 @ 18:56

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: -
    • 2nd cut-off: -
    • 3rd cut-off: June 7th 2023
    • 4th cut-off: October 4th 2023
  • Step 3 (interview)
    • 1st cut-off: -
    • 2nd cut-off: May 22nd to June 2nd
    • 3rd cut-off: September 11th to 22nd
    • 4th cut-off: November 27th to December 8th

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)