How the EIC Accelerator Funds Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) (SME Instrument)

The Work Programme for the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2) clearly defines the type of innovation that is eligible for the financing and, outside of general considerations, outlines the exact stages a technology has to be in. These stages are classified through Technology Readiness Levels (TRL – see this article for a general explanation).

Understanding the TRL’s is important since they will need to be detailed in the application (i.e. in the technology description) and will also have to be referenced in sections regarding the work packages, the investment needs and the project roadmap.

How TRL’s are Funded

The European Commission (EC) funds TRL51 to TRL8 via a pure grant or via blended finance (i.e. a mix between a grant and equity financing – see this article). TRL9 activities are only financed through pure equity (i.e. a separate work package for pure equity when requesting blended finance) while, in case no equity is requested, the financing of TRL9 activities must be explained separately.

It should also be noted that, while it is possible to request a pure grant or a mix of grant and equity (i.e. blended finance), it is not possible to receive pure equity financing under the EIC Accelerator as of 2020 (i.e. it must be blended finance if seeking equity). European startups that are already above TRL8 are currently ineligible for this type of funding.

What Needs to be Considered

It is important to adhere to the funding structure outlined in the Work Programme and the proposal template since any incoherences might be negatively impacting the proposal evaluation. If details regarding TRL’s were to be neglected by a writer or consultant, it might make the application appear less professional and place doubt on other sections as well (i.e. the financials or the financing needs).

In practice, it is useful to always refer to the TRL’s when discussing the project’s developments at different stages especially when describing the conditions of the market introduction, the past financing rounds, post-project financing or the deliverables of work packages. A successful Phase 2 application must be as complete and coherent as possible which make plausible TRL justifications an important aspect.

Further information on how the funding for the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2) is distributed (i.e. grant, equity, blended, co-financing) can be found in this article (Grant vs. Blended Finance).

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) will be on June 16th 2021 and October 6th 2021 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). 

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:


Notes

1: The minimum TRL for the EIC Accelerator is TRL5 according to the Work Programme but is TRL6 according to the current Evaluation Criteria (see: Criterion 2.2 in Using the Evaluation Summary Report (ESR) to Improve Grant Proposal Writing). This will likely be unified in the next instalment of the EIC Accelerator and it can be assumed that TRL5 is the allowed minimum.