The European Commission (EC) and the European Innovation Council (EIC) are planning major changes to the EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) application process whereas the introduction of video pitches is expected (read: EIC 2021). These can present a new challenge for prospect EIC Accelerator beneficiaries since video production, marketing and content creation are not always part of small DeepTech startups or Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) who are heavily focusing on research and development (R&D) work.
Additionally, consultants and professional writers alike now have an additional layer of skills that are required of them. These extend to the areas of video production, editing and the planning of filming scenarios. This article presents a short guide on the types of videos that could be prepared for an EIC Accelerator video pitch but restrictions regarding the content might be imposed by the European Union (EU) and the EIC in 2021.
1. Explainer-Type Videos
Explainer-type videos are very popular and easy to produce since they require no on-screen presence and can be entirely prepared on a computer. Such a video tells a story with animations and a voice-over which can take the viewer on a journey that provides all the information needed to understand a certain project.
The essential steps in creating an explainer video are the clear planning of the videos outline, the writing of a script and the decision-making for the desired look. Producing such a video in-house can be a challenge for most startups but there are free tools available that can aid in such a preparation.
1.1 Tools needed for in-house production
- Adobe After Effects or Free Animation Tools (view this Tutorial by SonduckFilm)
- Adobe Premiere Pro
Both the animation and the voice-overs can easily be outsourced via sites such as Upwork and Freelancer while the writing of the script should be done by the management team of the startup to assure clear communication and high quality.
2. Interview-Type Videos
A very easy to produce, informative and useful type of video is a simple interview which can be ideal for founders that are not used to being filmed and have a low budget but are good communicators. The team can simply prepare questions in advance that cover the innovation, team and business model while recording a large quantity of footage that can later be edited into a perfectly concise explanation of the project.
For such videos, choosing a great location (i.e. a bright and large office space) and assuring that the set has a pleasant look (i.e. lighting, backdrop, symmetry and background) will be very easy to do and significantly increase the quality of the video production. For the final editing, it is useful to remove all of the interview-questions and only focus on the explanations so that the final result is a clean and clear presentation of the project.
2.1 Tools needed for in-house production
- DSLR or Smartphone (view this Tutorial by DSLRGuide)
- Adobe Premiere Pro
Outsourcing can be pricy if a video production team is hired and needs to be on-site to perform their work. If the management team is confident in their communication and filming skills, they can prepare all of the footage themselves and only outsource the video editing and animations (i.e. for titles, intros and transitions) which can be done remotely and is much less costly.
3. Hardware Footage
Depending on the type of technology, it can be advisable to film footage of the production processes, factories and hardware to illustrate the function of the innovation. This is an essential part of a video if the product is very hardware-heavy and if the main Technology Readiness Level (TRL) milestones have strongly focused on hardware parts. Read: How the EIC Accelerator Funds Technology Readiness Levels
Similar to interviews, such videos can easily be produced by companies themselves since they only require a video camera and some editing skills. Since sound is usually not needed, a microphone would only be required when voiceovers are prepared.
3.1 Tools needed for in-house production
- DSLR or Smartphone
- Adobe Premiere Pro
Just like an interview-type video, hardware filming can be outsourced to a professional production team or partially outsourced to save costs if only editing support is needed.
4. Pitch Voice-Over
This is likely one of the easiest ways to prepare a pitch video and is expected to be the default for most companies due to its simplicity. A management team can use their existing pitch deck to record a call-like pitch session where the presented visual material is focusing exclusively on the pitch deck while the management team is only displayed with a webcam.
This approach requires no specialised skills and a video could even be recorded directly in Zoom, Skype or similar video-call software. A pitch deck can be prepared through programs such as Adobe InDesign or Microsoft PowerPoint and be used as-is.
4.1 Tools needed for in-house production
- Microsoft PowerPoint or Adobe InDesign (read: Adobe InDesign)
- Adobe Premiere Pro or Video Call Software
Outsourcing of such a video production is not advised since any financial investments would be better spent on animations, voice-overs or the editing of footage.
5. Third-Party Footage
Lastly, for the lucky companies that have already been featured extensively in news, TV, media or online outlets, the respective footage can be used to edit a short profile of the project and management team. The publically available material can be downloaded and re-edited in Premiere Pro to quickly prepare a professional video.
5.1 Tools needed for in-house production
- Adobe Premiere Pro
Outsourcing can be performed for the editing process whereas the footage can be sent to a freelancer and they will create a video based on pre-defined specifications (i.e. what footage to include and how to structure it).
The following general video-types can be produced by startups to create a short video on their project and business:
- Explainer-Type: Animations that guide the viewer through the story and details of the project
- Interview-Type: Interviews with the founders to give a general overview.
- Hardware Footage: Hands-on visuals of the product, the manufacturing and related physical aspects of the technology
- Pitch Deck Recording: A simple recording of an online pitch without expensive production
- Existing Footage: An edited version of existing media footage already available to the respective company
A mix of different options is highly advisable whereas a mix of the interviews, hardware footage and/or animations can create a professional-looking and easy to digest introduction for a disruptive innovation and company.
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).
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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)