How to Select an EU Grant Financing Program such as the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument) – Part 2

This article is a continuation of Part 1 and describes a list of considerations to be made by startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) that seek to raise grant financing from the European Union (EU). One of these options is the EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity) by the European Innovation Council (EIC) and European Commission (EC) which is highly suitable for innovative companies and has a strong support network of professional writers and expert consultancies (contact a professional writer here).

4. Thematic Focus

What types of projects are selected?

Grant funding by the European Union (EU) can vary greatly by the respective focus area whereas some programs only fund research projects, universities, for-profits, non-profits, companies focusing on the Green Deal (read: A Dedicated Cut-Off) or those projects related to specific targets such as Key Enabling Technologies (KET) and policy directives.

The topic of the funding call is the single most important aspect to consider since it will define what evaluators are looking for and which companies have high success chances to become grant beneficiaries. The EIC Accelerator focuses on for-profit businesses at a certain Technology Readiness Level (TRL – read: here) while the project must also be innovative and disruptive.

5. Local Alternatives

Are there national grants available?

While the EU has the largest grant budgets, simple evaluation platforms and provides clear communication of the requirements, there are a variety of local alternatives that could provide equal opportunities with higher success chances. An example for this is the Cyprus Entrepreneurship Fund (CYPEF) that is supported by the European Investment Bank (EIB) which also supports the equity financing of the EIC Accelerator (read: Equity Financing).

Such local alternatives should be investigated since they tend to be less competitive when it comes to the strict requirements imposed on grant programs such as the EIC Accelerator. In addition, applications can likely be prepared in the native language which can significantly simplify the application process for many startups (read: Preparing an Application Internally).

6. Number of Submissions

How many times can an applicant submit an application?

Depending on the type of financing call, there can be restrictions to the numbers of applications due to limited cut-off dates (i.e. a one-off call vs. a continuous call) or through freeze-periods as they are imposed on the EIC Accelerator in 2021 (read: 2021 Process).

Since the competitiveness of a certain funding opportunity can vary greatly, understanding if re-submissions are possible is an important consideration before the first application.

7. Single Applicant or Consortium

How many companies or institutions must apply?

While the type of applicant is important, prospect grant beneficiaries likewise have to assess if they can apply alone or are required to form a consortium. The latter can have restrictions imposed on them such as a specific location (i.e. 3 entities from at least 2 member states) or a specific type of collaboration (i.e. one non-profit university and one for-profit business).

The EIC Accelerator is a single-applicant funding scheme without an option to apply as a consortium as of 2020. The SME Instrument (the original name of the EIC Accelerator) historically had an option for multiple EU companies forming a consortium so this option might be reintroduced after 2021 under Horizon Europe.

This article continues in Part 3.

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: