Presenting Customer Interest for a Successful EIC Accelerator Application (SME Instrument Phase 2)

Next to outlining the innovative nature of a project, being able to demonstrate customer interest (i.e. traction) is a key factor for the success of an EIC Accelerator application. Like most other recommendations, this criteria is not an official requirement to be eligible for the financing but the evaluation checklist specifically asks if the applicant’s customers have demonstrated willingness-to-pay which makes it essential to address this point. It is possible to receive funding without demonstrating any traction but only if other evaluation criteria were to excel and compensate for the lacking criteria but this is an unlikely scenario.

Traction does not necessarily mean revenues since material contributions, access to facilities or simple support letters can be just as valid depending on the industry. The central narrative should communicate that the innovation is not only better than the competing products but is also highly sought after. This also extends to a well-positioned value-chain with suppliers and logistics being in place to present a well-supported and thought-out project. If the following questions are answered with yes then the innovation is in a good commercial position:

  • Are you already in contact with customers and have these expressed interest?
  • Do you have active users or have received promising feedback?
  • Can you obtain proof of interest, i.e. letters of support/intent, revenues or user statistics?
  • Do you have a clear value chain, i.e. hardware suppliers, certification authorities or servers?

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) are January 11th 2023 (only EIC Accelerator Open), March 22nd 2023, June 7th 2023 and October 4th 2023 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: