Tag Archives: EIC Accelerator women

Glitches on the EIC Accelerator’s AI Platform and Changes to the Work Programme (SME Instrument)

In 2021, the EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity) has been re-launched into its most sophisticated iteration yet. With a new AI Tool, a semi-automated evaluation process and a clear focus on disruptive projects, it has now opened its doors for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) and startups in the European Union (EU) and associated countries (read: New Process).

Right after the launch of this new platform, many applicants as well as professional writers, freelancers and consultants have noticed that there were still quite a few errors and glitches that showed up. This article presents a shortlist of noticeable areas that were affected by such glitches and also discusses some of the changes to the 2021 Work Programme which differ from the unpublished draft version discussed earlier (read: The Work Programme).

Changes & Glitches

Geographic Restrictions & Diversity

The draft version of the EIC Accelerator Work Programme discussed the requirement for geographic diversity which meant that all applicants applying to the grant would need to be invited to the Step 3 interviews in proportion to the number of received applications (read: Interview Preparation & How To Succeed). This would have been an extreme measure since it could have incentivised countries to prepare many low-quality applications to boost their chances in Step 3 of the process. Luckily, this rule was removed.

Non-Binary Gender

The latest template for the EIC Accelerator’s AI Platform and the draft for Horizon Europe proposals indicated non-binary as an option for the gender selection of the applicant’s CEO (read: The EIC Youtube Leak). This, of course, was an example of the European Union being too progressive for its own good (read: Gender Identification vs. Gender Equality).

The EU’s strong gender equity agenda enforces the funding of 35% female CEO’s under the EIC Accelerator which presents 7-times the number at which female CEO’s would naturally be funded in the program. If a non-binary CEO who was born as a woman was treated like a man with respect to this agenda or, even worse, a transgender person identifying as a woman was treated like a man – the EU would have a political disaster on their hands.

Eventually, the European Innovation Council (EIC) has decided that this political double bind between gender identification and gender equality was too much to handle and reverted back to giving only a single third gender option: Unspecified – which is treated as male and lacks the benefits of choosing female.

TRL Descriptions

The Technology Readies Levels (TRL) and Market Readiness Levels (MRL) have been changed even after the opening of the call on April 9th whereas on Friday, it still stated that TRL6 required 100 customers, while on Monday, it reverted back to only requiring pilot studies and a prototype. This is significant since the change happened after the call was already open which means that many applicants could have applied under false premises (read: TRL Levels Explained).

AI Tool Diagnostics Results

Another change over the weekend after April 9th was that the Diagnostics evaluation feedback by the AI Tools changed drastically. The technical breakthrough scorings were quite easy to ‘max out‘ to the top of the A-chart while breakthrough scientific scores were much harder to increase. On Monday, the scoring difficulty was reversed even though no changes were made to the proposal text.

On Monday, an A in technical scores can have turned into a B while the scientific scores saw the opposite change happen. Once again, there are a number of applicants who might have applied under false premises since the call was already accepting submissions.

Budget & Evaluation

The Work Programme has seen some minor adjustments in the budgeting and evaluation process but these were not dramatic and will not significantly impact the success chances of applicants.

One relevant part of these changes is the automatic coverage of the 30% co-financing of the grant by the equity financing if blended financing is selected. This means that, if an applicant wants to request €5M in equity from the EIC Fund then this will be in addition to the 30% of the grant contribution (read: EIC Fund Behind the Scenes). Applicants also have to estimate the co-financing of their Series A or similar round and identify the outside contributors.

Glitches and Errors

Since the AI Platform for the EIC Accelerator is new, it is expected that bugs and errors will be encountered frequently. Still, there was a discrepancy in the performance between different accounts whereas one account had a smooth opening and saving of the proposal while others were exhibiting long loading times, errors and shutdowns.

One of the most severe glitches observed was the replacement of the Abstract of the proposal by the Solution section which ended up appearing twice in the final proposal. This was an automatic replacement that happened in some accounts over the weekend after April 9th.

For all applicants who have applied early to the EIC Accelerator, it is worth looking back at their submitted application and double checking if their Abstract was affected. If it was, it is advisable to contact support@accelerator.eismea.eu as soon as possible to correct this error so that the evaluation will not suffer from this mistake.

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.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!



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:

Gender Equality Targets in the Age of Gender Identification (EIC Accelerator)

The EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity) is a competitive funding program by the European Commission (EC) and has always been heavily affected by European Union (EU) policies. Examples for this are the requirements to meet sustainability targets, address societal challenges and other recent developments such as the Green Deal and strict gender equity goals (read: EIC Accelerator 2021 Work Program).

Gender Equity Targets

Especially the latter has been strongly advertised by the European Innovation Council (EIC) and has proven to be very beneficial for female entrepreneurs (read: Being a Female Entrepreneur) since their normal funding rates of under 5% were effectively increased to 35% or higher (read: EIC Impact Report).

Such a strictly followed target has a tremendous impact since a female Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will have a slight but important advantage over a male CEO which can, due to the tight competition at the EIC Accelerator interviews, make the difference between being funded successfully and being rejected (read: EIC Pitch Week).

This not only affects the startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) applying for grant financing in the EU but is also impacting the focus of professional writers and consultancies since female CEO’s who are excellent and have a great project now have a lower risk profile than their male counterparts if all other variables are matched.

Unfortunately, this special advantage for women, in addition to the newly introduced coaching support for female entrepreneurs, might be shorter-lived than anticipated.

EU Definitions

In the past, the designation of the CEO’s gender in the Funding & Tenders Portal was optional and could be omitted since undisclosed was presented as an alternative option.

In 2021, the newest Horizon Europe grant proposal template changes this and asks their applicants to select their gender among the choices of male, female and non-binary. While, previously, the selection of undisclosed was effectively equal to choosing male when it comes to the evaluation process, it is difficult to imagine that choosing non-binary will have the same effect.

Gender identification and non-binary genders have emerged in recent years with more political power and influence than gender equality and feminism itself which is why this new option might radically change the EIC’s female CEO targets over the coming decade. After all, in today’s times, policies and political opinions are only one viral social media campaign away from being changed overnight.

In an official report by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers from June 2020, the term non-binary is defined as follows:

“An umbrella term for people whose gender identity is not encompassed or represented by ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely.”

By simply introducing this option to the evaluation process of a financial instrument such as the EIC Accelerator, the EU might have opened the door for exploitation since gender identity is explicitly not based on biological sex or the time spent within a certain identity. To clarify this, the EC defines gender identity as follows:

“A person’s gender identity is defined as each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of their own gender, whether as a man, a woman or non-binary, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.”

When the beneficial treatment of female CEO’s was announced, it was also made clear that the respective person would have to be in the CEO position for a longer timeframe and not be elected CEO just for the purpose of the EIC Accelerator submission. This covered the obvious weakness of the gender-targets and allowed female CEO’s to receive the benefits as they were intended.

Non-Binary Applicants

By including non-binary genders and by defining gender as, in the EC’s words, a “deeply felt […] experience” without limiting the time spent within that identity, the EC could be opening the door to a reshaping of the playing field. If the status of non-binary becomes equal to the status of a female due to political pressures, then there could be an incentive for all-male CEO’s to designate themselves as non-binary since being non-binary does not need to come alongside a certain lifestyle, look or behaviour.

In fact, being non-binary is subject to no restrictions or societal norms by design.

Conclusion

Of course, such a development is pure speculation and most male CEO’s would have no interest in explaining their gender in front of a jury even if a multi-million grant is at stake. Although, to think that no CEO would make that decision even after a previous rejection is unlikely as well if any critical jury question can simply be dismissed by saying “I would prefer not to discuss my gender identity“.

It will be interesting to see how the EC is handling this new development since balancing a culture of inclusion and social rights with clear-cut targets such as gender equity might not be possible in the long-term. When it comes to democratic government organisations, political pressure will always win over old policies which means that excellent female entrepreneurs should seize their opportunity to apply to the EIC Accelerator now as long as high funding rates of 35% are still enforced.

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.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!



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:

The Reliance of EU Startups on Consultancies for the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument)

The EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) is an innovation funding program that provides up to €17.5M to startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME). It is very attractive for eligible companies since it allows single-applicants to directly apply online and participate in the program with little to no help from third parties (read: EIC Accelerator Introduction).

Since the evaluation is performed by the European Agency for SME’s (EASME) and European Innovation Council (EIC), it appears to be the ideal framework for the European Commission (EC) to directly help excellent companies in the region.

Or so it seems.

Insufficient Documentation & Transparency

Unfortunately, many applicants who investigate the EIC Accelerator process and proposal template find that the official documentation is not entirely helpful. Instead of presenting what a good business case should be, the European Union (EU) focuses on communicating its goals for policies, gender equality, finding startup unicorns and describing innovation from a political perspective.

As a result, prospective applicants turn to professional writers and consultants since they are concerned that “they do not know what the EU wants to hear” (read: Hiring a Writer). They recognize early in the process that the EIC Accelerator is a policy-driven element, spearheaded by politicians as the primary decision-makers while entrepreneurs take an advisory role.

Becoming Entrepreneur-Friendly

The EIC is making progress in becoming more entrepreneur-friendly by aiming to be Venture Capital (VC)-like and presenting itself as a true start-up ecosystem in the EU via equity investments, pitch-oriented evaluations and expert entrepreneurs for critical evaluation steps. Unfortunately, while the EIC aims to simplify the application process, the direction the EIC Accelerator is moving towards is becoming less and less applicant-friendly.

This is not only evident in the recent equity-affair whereas granted applicants from 2019 have only received part of their equity financing in 2021 (read: Interview with EIC Fund Member) but also in the addition of more and more evaluation steps (read: Proposed 2021 Process).

Making the Application Process More Difficult

In 2018, in-person pitch interviews were introduced as an additional layer to the formerly 1-step evaluation procedure and 2021 will see the EIC Accelerator become a 3-step process which will, for the first time, include video submissions (read: Pitch Video Types). This not only increases the workload for all applicants but also requires a broad skill set which is not commonly found in DeepTech startups (i.e. design, video production, storytelling, marketing).

This clearly is a contradictory approach by the EU since adding steps to the process will increase the reliance of grant applicants on consultants and professional writers instead of reducing it (read: The Grant Writing Industry).

Understandably, the EIC is in a double bind. It wants to attract excellent companies and help them to apply without hiring external help but, by attracting an excess of applicants, it has to increase the evaluation barriers since the budget is limited. This, in combination with a less transparent evaluation process (read: Applying Early to the EIC Accelerator), leaves innovative companies no choice but to rely on external partners more than ever before.

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.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!



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:

How the Future of the EIC Accelerator Could Look Like (SME Instrument) – Part 2

This article is a continuation of Part 1 and presents a collection of areas that the EIC Accelerator might evolve towards in the future.

The EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) is a constantly evolving and growing funding arm of the European Innovation Council (EIC) and European Commission (EC). It aims to support startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) who are working on innovative technologies through extensive financial support of up to €17.5M and coaching support to simplify business development and scaling efforts (read: Introduction).

While this article presents an exploration, it is also useful for both professional writers or consultants to stay up to date on new developments relating to the official proposal template, new funding decisions by the European Union (EU) and related developments (read: Finding Updates).

3. Adjusting the Evaluation Criteria

Government funds will always have to adhere to politics, directives and bureaucracy which is the reason why EIC Accelerator evaluations are slightly easier for projects that have a focus on societal challenges, female CEO’s or a broader EU impact (read: Visual EIC Accelerator Narrative). While this is clearly valuable for politicians, it does obscure the focus that should be on innovation, business models and, ultimately, financial success.

If the EIC wants to fund projects that support the environment then this should simply receive a dedicated call (read: Green Deal Call) and if it wants to fund more female CEO’s then this can also receive its own call instead of retrospectively adjusting the established ranking order based on gender (read: Why It’s Great to be a Female Entrepreneur in the EU). Creating a women-only call under the EIC Accelerator (i.e. “EIC Accelerator Female Founders Call”) is entirely feasible and it would create a better perception of the evaluation since each applicant under a specific call will be evaluated based on the same criteria.

4. Simplifying the Bureaucracy

The sections for the costs, implementation, resources and KPI’s are important for tracking and budget allocation but their assessment could be streamlined more. If cost items, subcontractors and budget allocations per month were directly entered into the browser’s form fields, they could be assessed quickly by algorithms and could be tracked much more efficiently if the project is funded. This will also remove the need for evaluators to re-calculate all the given metrics of an application (i.e. if the resources fit to the workpackages or the hiring to the payroll)

Just like it is already done on EU-platforms like Eurostat, the financial projections, costs and workpackages could be visualised with charts automatically so that the applications themselves become much leaner and especially the implementation section can focus on tasks, risks and team members rather than financials. In the same vein, the Impact section can focus on the users, commercial strategy and the market instead of detailing the financial projections.

Summary

  • Separating Grant & Equity: Allowing direct equity applications with an open budget through a pool of private investors
  • Becoming a VC-Hub: Creating an online environment where past applicants can participate in pitch sessions outside of the normal process
  • Adjusting the Evaluation Criteria: Establish fair evaluation criteria without exceptions and use separate calls to enforce political targets (i.e. Green Deal)
  • Simplifying the Bureaucracy: Make more use of the online form fields to auto-generate and check financial information

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.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!



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:

How to Prepare for an EIC Accelerator Pitch Interview (SME Instrument Phase 2) – Part 2

This article is a continuation of Part 1 and presents a guide for practising the EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) pitch interview by the European Commission (EC) and European Innovation Council (EIC). Resources regarding the general questioning of the pitch and why companies fail can be found here (read: Why Companies Fail) while information on the pitch itself can be found here (read: Pitch vs. Proposal).

2.4 The Basics

It should be assured that the presenters speak fluent English and are also able to understand questions even if the person asking the question has a strong accent (i.e. French, German) or a quiet voice. The speakers should be easy to understand and also quickly pick up on what the jury is asking them so that no time is wasted on confusing clarifications and hand gesturing (i.e. understanding the concern behind the question).

2.5 The Day of the Pitch

Allow the presenting team to get ready for the interview and do not schedule any operational tasks before the pitch so that the presenter’s minds are fully focused on the event. Meet with the entire team early in the morning and focus on going through the big picture (i.e. the vision and key messages) since the details and small things should have all been clarified in the weeks before. Focusing on the big picture means to look at each slide of the script and to identify what the key ideas are that you seek to communicate.

Example: On slide number 2, I want the audience to see how X is a significant market problem and to understand the gravity of the consequences for the EU if this remains unsolved. On slide 10, the jury has to realise that our commercial strategy is solidified through Y since we have already partnered with Z1 and Z2 beforehand.

Without obsessing over the small things (as you did in the past weeks), you can just focus on the big picture and make sure that your pitch is clear, simple and convincing.

2.6 Difficult Questions

While this has already been mentioned before, practising difficult pitch questions is key in refining the answers given in the EIC Accelerator interview. The most important part to remember is that there will be more questions than answers and that not having the time to answer a question can be as bad as to answer it poorly.

When practising the difficult questions (i.e. ideally with people unfamiliar with the project), the answers have to be fast, on the spot and precise. The answers can be perfected later on but it is imperative that they are treated as real-life jury questions the first time around so that the speakers never get into the habit of saying “Well, let me think about this first” or giving minute-long, wordy answers. Try practising with 10-second answers (use a stopwatch) and then move on to the next question right away since, during the preparation time, collecting many questions and practising rapid-fire answers is key. Refinements can be done after the pitch practice is over.

2.7 Know the Application

If the pitch presenters for the EIC Accelerator interview have written the application themselves then this point can be neglected but if the writing was outsourced to consultants or delegated – the speakers must know the application in and out. This might not be relevant in case the jury members have not read the application but if even one of the jurors is familiar with it, very targeted questions could quickly expose a presenter’s lack of knowledge.

Re-reading the entire application and memorizing relevant numbers, strategies and partners should not replace the actual pitch practice but it has to be done as part of the preparations.

2.8 Cover All Areas of Expertise

Lastly, it is important to select the presenters carefully based on their role in the company and their area or level of expertise. Having three marketing experts as presenters might make for well-polished pitch but will likely be disastrous for the questioning. Likewise, having only engineers present without a financial or sales expert can have similarly devastating consequences. The general rule is, bring your top management team (i.e. CEO, founders, owners) and assure that their expertise is very well-balanced. In addition, women are always welcome (read: Women and the EIC Accelerator).

3. Summary

  • Restrictions: The jury’s time, attention and previous knowledge will be limited
  • How to Prepare for the Pitch
    • Learn from Past Pitches: Directly asks past beneficiaries or expert consultancies about their experience
    • Practise: Practise the pitch with a stopwatch and an external audience
    • Open Pitch Sessions: Aim to have a broad audience for your practice
    • The Basics: Clear communication with fluent English
    • The Day of the Pitch: Only focus on the pitch and your key messages
    • Difficult Questions: Practise rapid-fire answers (10-second rule)
    • Know the Application: Have at the key quantifiers and partners memorized
    • Cover All Areas of Expertise: Make sure that the presenters have a balanced background

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.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!



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:

Which Companies Should Not Apply to the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument) – Part 1

Many startups or Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) are interested in applying to the EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) due to its single-beneficiary funding scheme. Before contacting a professional writer or consultant, it is often useful to first investigate which companies are ineligible or have lower chances for success as viewed by the European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Commission (EC).

There are important criteria to adhere to (read: EIC Accelerator Keywords) but the official proposal template or manuals are often not a great resource to assess them in a comprehensive manner. While the innovation, traction and team quality are a must to assess in the beginning (read: Assessing a Project), they can be meaningless if the project is in direct violation of one or more of the following negative criteria. These can lead to immediate dismissals at any of the three evaluation steps and should be cleared prior to a successful grant application.

Negative Criteria

Being Well-Financed

Every startup has some type of financing which usually comes in the form of angel investors or seed investments but some companies have also been able to raise substantial Venture Capital (VC) rounds or grants which make the critical non-bankability difficult to argue. Due to the long delays between the EIC Accelerator evaluation steps, it can happen that significant VC rounds were raised during the waiting period and, when this is revealed in the Step 3 pitch interviews, it can lead to a direct exclusion from grant financing.

Transforming the EU

The EIC Accelerator is aiming to finance DeepTech companies and is regarding apps, social networks, games or similar products as less worthy than health tech, energy or environmental innovations. This does not mean that such projects are never financed (i.e. view the funded company Flexion Mobile in the 2019 SME Instrument report) but this can make it much harder for them especially in 2021. This is unfortunate for many great businesses that could have a strong impact in the EU but do not have the same metrics to show for (i.e. the long-term ROI for the EC is clearer in MedTech then for a new social network).

For all investors, a great business model for an innovation should always supersede the type of innovation being incorporated and this should be reflected by the EIC Accelerator. The more successful businesses the European Union (EU) can fund, the more financing will be available (i.e. esp. with equity stakes being involved) and the more attention EU startup hubs will attract in the future.

Arguably, London was the largest innovation hub in the EU and with Brexit being in its final stages from an EU financing perspective, Europe should focus on supporting all great companies and not just the industries it deems beneficial. The reason for this is simple: The most important impact on society comes in the form of wealth, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment which are a base necessity to cover every citizen’s primal needs. This base can be viewed as the driving force which enables prosperity and allows the occurrence of innovation in all areas, including DeepTech.

The success of fields such as HealthTech, CleanTech, space exploration, etc. is directly proportional to the wealth of the country (i.e. compare the level of innovation and GDP in the US with Russia or North Korea) which means that focusing on excellent business models across the board should come first. Non-bankability is a great focus for the EIC Accelerator since it allows the clear differentiation from other funding-sources but to extend this exclusive criterion to only a handful of industries is a poor long-term strategy.

What could the impact of a marketing innovation in the EU be? Simple. Marketing drives end-consumer industries and, wherever the marketing has the highest ROI, the strongest customer acceptance and the best scalability, the most jobs and wealth will be created. Just because the long-term impact is not obvious doesn’t mean that there is no impact whatsoever.

If an applicant with such a non-obvious impact is asked by the jury as to how they transform the European landscape, they should keep this in mind and present a clear outline of the benefits. If no suitable answer to this question is known, it would not be wise to apply to the EIC Accelerator in the first place.

Opposing Values

Any application to the EIC Accelerator should make sure that the innovation does not directly threaten key EU targets or policies such as the fossil fuel phase-out, the drive for gender equality, the need for social inclusion, financial security etc. since this could lead to immediate dismissals. An innovation to locate new fossil fuel reserves through satellite and machine-learning technologies might be valuable for the oil industry but likely meet disinterest at every evaluation step from the EU.

This article continues in Part 2.

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.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!



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:

How the EIC Can Incentivise Shorter and Clearer Applications for the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2) – Part 3

Information for readers: The following is a description of a proposed evaluation process but it does not, in any way, reflect the current way EIC Accelerator applications are evaluated. For this, please read this article.

This article is a continuation of Part 2 (see also: Part 4 & Part 1). It describes a proposed evaluation process for the EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) and investigates the potential mechanisms that can be used by the European Innovation Council (EIC) and European Commission (EC). The way an official proposal template is structured and its general restrictions clearly define the workload of both successful applicants and evaluators which makes a re-structuring the most powerful tool available to change the overall submission experience for all stakeholders from the written application, over the pitch video to the final interview (read: Assessing an Innovation).

Feedback Cycles and Proposal Examples

If the EIC wants to develop direct relationships with the applying SME’s and develop equality amongst applicants then the communication towards such applicants has to be precise and transparent. The EIC has not published examples of how a successful application should look like and is not providing useful feedback to applicants. As a result, applicants are relying on hiring third parties such as consultancies or professional grant writers who have the experience and insight to know what evaluators are looking for.

Without useful feedback by a human evaluator who has taken the time to write a single paragraph for the rejected applicants and without an actual successful proposal example, the EIC will remain a black-box for SME’s and start-ups. The existing manuals for Horizon 2020 are obscure and do not discuss quality writing, business plans and illustrations. Instead, the currently existing manuals give little to no useful guidance to applicants since they focus on discussing environmental-goals and gender equality rather than what a business plan should look like.

A solution to this could be dynamic feedback whereas an evaluator can send a message to the applicants who have the opportunity to respond to a question or critical assessment within a limited time-frame. If this response is reasonable, an evaluator is able to make a more informed decision while data on feedback about evaluators can be gathered internally to identify evaluators that are potentially unqualified or ideally qualified for such applications (i.e. improved match-making).

How an Evaluation Process Could Look Like

Scenario

  • Start: 6,000 applications
  • Funding available: 100 applications

Round 1 (Remote Evaluation)

Upload

  • Applicants provide a one-page executive summary with a 300-word restriction (i.e. graphics with bullet points). This reduces the writing burden significantly, simplifies the evaluation and also reduces the need for SME’s to learn EU-specific terminology which is not market-relevant (i.e. impact, excellence, TRL, etc.).
  • Inside the submission forms, the applicants’ fill out the information on the costs, financial projections, team growth, addressed EU policies (i.e. targets can be linked), gender, GDPR, etc. which can be quickly scanned by evaluators.
  • Applicants also upload a 10 min pitch video with full creative freedom (i.e. slide pitch with voiceover or a fully produced video – read: Preparing a Pitch Video)

Evaluation procedure of Round 1

Instead of evaluating each proposal individually, there are topic-based knock-out rounds whereas 3 keyword-matched candidates are compared with each other and the superior project receives the YES while the other two receive a NO grading. This is done by ranking all 3 projects whereas the winner of the three is determined by assessments from multiple evaluators. If there is a draw, two projects can both receive the YES grading or no project can be selected if it was found that they are all ineligible. An additional evaluator can be added in case results are unusual (i.e. a project is ranked first and last by different evaluators)

This process has the benefit of being very fast to conduct while the applications are quick to prepare (i.e. 3 applications can be assessed in under 2 hours). Since determining universal scores through subjective assessments by randomly selected evaluators is impossible anyways, a knock-out process is just as fair and is similar to the VC-like setting in the interview-stage. All applications receive a 300 word-feedback (100 words from each evaluator) which is presented to the applicants in their formal results.

This round also has the benefit of screening the projects for their impact on EU-relevant targets first while the business plan will only be assessed once the EU has determined that this is the type of project it cares about.

Result: 33% or 2,000 applications are selected.

Round 1b (Optional)

This round is internal and does not require any additional work from the applicants. In round 2, the 2,000 selected applicants are matched-up with each other again and are selected by new evaluators in the same manner whereas the result will be another elimination of two-thirds of the applicants. This is an optional round in case the number of applicants is exceptionally high (i.e. when starting with 6,000 applicants) but it can be omitted if the applications are between 1,000 and 3,000.

All applicants receive additional feedback which is added to the previous feedback (if Round 1 is passed) and made available via the evaluation summary report (ESR). All feedback is cumulative which means that the applicants will always receive more information on improvements the further they progressed through the evaluation.

Result: 11% or 667 applications are selected and are awarded the Seal of Excellence.

This article continues in Part 4 (see also: Part 1 & Part 2).

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.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!



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:

Key Takeaways from the EIC Accelerator Deep Tech Report (SME Instrument Phase 2)

The European Innovation Council (EIC) has published The Deep Tech Europe Report: key numbers from the EIC performance (PDF) which summarizes key impact figures and statistics with respect to the EIC Accelerators performance. The EIC Accelerator blended financing program (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) has been active since 2019 and relevant statistics on the equity investments are expected to guide the programmes reshaping throughout Horizon Europe (2021-2027).

The analysis found in this document is not only useful for prospect Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) but also for professional writers and consultants who seek to improve their knowledge on the EIC Accelerator and the EU’s future ambitions in general. The detailed information given discusses topics that are valuable and are not generally part of the official work programme or the annotated proposal template such as the selected industries, business models, size of companies and their financing history.

The following is a summary of key takeaways and perspectives on the EIC Accelerator Deep Tech Report:

EIC Budget: Horizon Europe vs. Horizon 2020

The EIC pilot budget will increase from €3bn under Horizon 2020 (2018-2020 – 3 year period) to €10bn for Horizon Europe (2021-2027 – 7 year period). This means that the budget will increase from an average of €1bn a year to €1.42bn per year (a 42% increase).

Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

Funded projects were matched by private post-project investments with €3.3 (2015) to €2.9 (2016) for each €1 invested by the EIC in 2015 and 2016.

Female Participation

15% of the beneficiaries for blended finance calls (since June 2019) have had female CEO’s. During the Green Deal deadline in May 2020, this number rose to 34% through the dedicated efforts by the European Commission (EC) to increase the share of women funded by the EIC Accelerator (i.e. gender must now be selected on the Funding and Tenders (F&T) platform – read: Official Proposal Template Updates). Without the Green Deal cut-off, the rate of female CEO’s would have been at only 8% of all beneficiaries.

Valuation

5% of the former startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) in the EIC’s portfolio are currently valued above €100m.

Applications and Success Rates

With 9,700 applications in a single year, success rates have dropped to 2-3% on average whereas success rates of 1% and potentially lower have likewise been observed due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the strongly advertised Green Deal call (read: The Green Deal) and the generally increased appeal of the grant to startups.

Out of all applications, 2,537 companies have received the Seal of Excellence (SOE) which means that these SME’s have received a score above 13 (read: The EIC Accelerator Score).

Evaluators and Jury Members

2,400 evaluation experts (i.e. for the written application in step 1) and 100 jury members (i.e. for the pitch week interview in step 2 – read: Pitch Deck) have been imperative to selecting the successful applications and assuring high-quality EIC Accelerator awards (read: EIC Accelerator Financing Timeline). The gender of the jury members has been well-balanced with the aim of having fairer results and gender equality whereas 51% of members were male and 49% were female.

While the step 1 evaluators are of varying backgrounds, the jury members have a strong investor-oriented background with 27% being innovation and industry specialists, 24% being venture capitalists, 22% being serial entrepreneurs and 19% being business angels.

Geographic Analysis

The top EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2) companies by country have been Spain (930), Italy (701), the United Kingdom (UK – 459), Germany (377) and France (343) whereas associated countries such as Tunisia (0), Anguilla (2), Greenland (1), Armenia (1) and Gibraltar (0) were less represented.

Size of the SME’s

Judging by the numbers of employees, there has been a strong trend towards micro (1-9 employees) and small businesses (10-49) which are making up 97% of all applicants at equal shares whereas medium-sized businesses (50-249) only made up 3%. This is underlined by the share of medium-sized companies dropping gradually from 12% in 2014 to 3% in 2020.

Age of SME’s

When separating the funded EIC Accelerator companies into their founding dates, a trend towards preferring young SME’s has been observed whereas the share of over 10-year-old companies has dropped from 32% in 2014 to only 9% in 2020. In the same time frame, the youngest startups with an age below 5 years have grown from 47% to 63%. This underlines the interest of the European Union (EU) to encourage breakthrough innovation and reach short time-to-markets.

Selected Industries

From an industry perspective, the top-funded EIC Accelerator projects were representative of the Health (1,262), Energy (922), IT software (735), Transportation (424) and Food industries (396).

Target Customers

From a business model perspective, 77% of companies followed a Business-to-Business (B2B) approach while only 23% were targeting end-users through Business-to-Consumer (B2C) products.

Blended Financing (Grant with Equity Option)

For all awarded blended financing applicants in 2019 and 2020 (4 total cut-offs and 140 winners), the overall budget was €278m in grant financing and €583m in equity with €6.5m being the average financing amount.

EIC Accelerator Follow-Up Investments

EIC Accelerator-awarded companies have attracted a total of €5.3bn in follow-up funding through private investments or similar channels (i.e. equity, debt, Mergers & Acquisitions, Initial Public Offerings – IPO’s).

Equity investments made up a total of €4bn (74%) of the financing in subsequent Series A, growth equity or similar funding founds. Most of the investments were stemming from European sources (69%) whereas 22% were raised from the United States and 4% from Chinese investors.

Successful Exits of EIC Accelerator Companies

Initial Public Offerings (IPO) and acquisitions were the most common exits for EIC Accelerator-awarded companies with 17 and 43 in total, respectively, since 2015. Valuations of the top 10 companies were ranging from €200m to €700m with the annual growth being as high as 40%.

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.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!



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:

Where can EIC Accelerator Results be found? (SME Instrument Phase 2)

The EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) is an interesting opportunity for startups or Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) to gain government funding for innovation activities. When working with a consultancy or professional grant writer, the process is simplified significantly but, when applying on their own, many startups are not entirely clear where results and awards are published.

The European Commission (EC), the European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Agency for SME’s (EASME) have a variety of outlets where the names of awarded companies are published or how funded SME’s are notified. The core sources for such information are:

1. Email form the Funding and Tenders Portal

The best way to identify if your startup or SME has received the EIC Accelerator grant funding is to await the results sent through the Funding and Tenders Portal. If an account has been created and the submission has been completed, feedback by the European Union (EU) will proceed via a dedicated email to inform the applicant of the invitation to the EIC Accelerator interview week (i.e. in Brussels or via an online video call).

The email includes instructions regarding the upload of a pitch video (i.e. the pitch deck cannot be reviewed but supplemented with a short video), the registration of the speakers as well as the general timing of the pitch week.

2. Notification Area on the Funding and Tenders Portal

In case no email has been received, the EIC Accelerator applicants should check the Funding and Tenders Portal (F&TP) periodically where notifications are highlighted as badge counts. If the EC has important updates or news to communicate with the applicant, they will be found there.

There are a variety of notification zones inside the portal where messages can be exchanged, namely the main notification area on the F&TP, the document upload and communication area under “My Organizations” as well as the messaging section under the “Follow Up” section for an approved grant project.

In general, it is very difficult to miss any communication by the EC if emails are checked regularly and the F&TP is visited. If in doubt, the EIC’s twitter account can be visited to gain information on the timing of future communications (read: Finding EIC Accelerator News).

3. List of Beneficiaries on the EIC Accelerator Call Page

Another excellent source to identify the results of the EIC Accelerator is the regularly updated list of beneficiaries which gives the company name, website, acronym, project title and type of funding received (grant or blended financing with equity). The list can be found here and contains all EIC Accelerator-funded companies (incl. the SME Instrument Phase 2 beneficiaries).

Going back to January 2018 and spanning all of 2019 and 2020, the list further details the country of origin and city of residence for the applying entities. The document download page of the EIC Accelerator also includes occasional flash updates which give additional information on the calls total budget, funding success rate and the number of applicants (i.e. this example).

4. The CORDIS Database

Projects that have been selected for funding and have signed the Grant Agreement Contracts (GAC) will be published on the Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) database. Here, the timing (i.e. project start and end), budget (i.e. grant and/or equity), name of the coordinator and the participating entities are listed.

In addition, the CORDIS page of an EIC Accelerator project will also contain the beneficiaries address, program information and the abstract of the project with detailed project reporting updates (read: The EIC Accelerator Abstract).

5. Publication on Social Media & Reports

Lastly, some information on EIC-funded companies can be found on social media sites such as Twitter (i.e. @EUEIC), Facebook (i.e. EIC), YouTube (i.e. European Commission or EU Science & Innovation) and Linkedin. When searching for the hashtag #EICAccelerator, companies often provide information on attempted or successful grant applications for past and current deadlines.

The EC likewise publishes regular reports on the performance of the EIC Accelerator (or SME Instrument) such as the recent The Deep Tech Europe Report: key numbers from the EIC performance and the previously published Innovation Kitchen: EIC Accelerator pilot in numbers.

These reports contain valuable statistics and key figures on the EIC Accelerator’s performance, information on the types of projects funded and the overall changes in budget, proposal template, gender contributions and industries.

Conclusion

Results regarding the successful applications for the EIC Accelerator can be found via:

  1. Email form the Funding and Tenders Portal
  2. Notification Area on the Funding and Tenders Portal
  3. List of Beneficiaries on the EIC Accelerator Call Page
  4. The CORDIS Database
  5. Publication on Social Media & Reports

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.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!



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:

Visual Representation of an EIC Accelerator Proposal Narrative (SME Instrument Phase 2) – Part 3

Part 1 and Part 2 of this article can be found under the provided links.

The following article as a continuation of the visual guide (i.e. Part 3) for the preparation of an EIC Accelerator blended financing proposal (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) which can be used by startups or Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) as well as professional writers or consultants.

The EIC Accelerator is a highly competitive grant program offered by the European Commission (EC) and the European Innovation Council (EIC) for all eligible companies based in the European Union (EU) and associated countries (read: Pre-Requisites for an Application).

Technology (bottom half)

After the problem has been described at length and the gravity of its negative repercussions has been illustrated in great detail, the next step will be the presentation of the envisioned solution and how it solves the problem.

This Technology section does not strictly follow the annotated EIC Accelerator template but provides a more general approach as to how such a section could be structured. The official grant proposal template focuses on the business model while this visual guide follows a more abridged version of the overall narrative. It seeks to answer the question as to why the EIC Accelerator is needed as opposed to a private investor who could finance the project.

The EIC Accelerator prioritizes high-risk projects, EU policies, non-bankability and other criteria which are not exactly investor-friendly or -relevant (i.e. gender equality). As a result, this guide targets EU-specific narratives and does not go into detail with respect to other essential proposal sections. A professional grant writer should be aware that the following explanation is omitting key sections in order to present a clear perspective on how a company can argue for the EIC’s support.

While the previous narrative was focusing on introducing the missing link (i.e. Part 2), this technology part should be viewed as the enabler which is essential in solving the problem and becoming the missing link.

1. Solution

The first step, after having clearly explained the missing link, is to present the innovative technology that has been successfully developed. It should be clear that the Unique Selling Points (USP) of this technology are directly addressing the missing link and that these are not covered by other market alternatives (thus “unique”).

A submitted application will be much more successful if the key user needs are actually addressed only by the innovation which means that the product or service is a must-have and not a nice-to-have.

The transition from “5. Missing link” to “6. Solution” has to be seamless and it must be clear that the innovation itself is needed in order to fix the problem (read: The Missing Link). If the technological developments are not directly addressing the issue then the developments will not be viewed as essential and the evaluation score of the grant proposal will be low.

2. Non-Bankable

Once again, this section deviates from the grant proposal template but the content and reasoning can be applied to certain key sections in the application.

Non-bankability is a key factor for the EIC Accelerator and is the complete antithesis of what an investor usually looks for. An investor wants to invest in great companies before other investors have discovered them while the European Commission (EC) specifically wants to invest in great companies that cannot leverage further funding from any other sources.

As such, the argumentation for non-bankability has to be conducted carefully by still highlighting the competence of the team (incl. financial competence) but also highlighting the need for financing and an inability to obtain it (read: EIC Accelerator Buzzwords). The innovation project should be described as “high-risk” and it should be explained why financing cannot be obtained elsewhere (i.e. further de-risking is needed incl. validation at scale).

3. EIC Accelerator

After the critical need for financing of the innovation-project has been elaborated on, the EIC Accelerator has to be presented as the perfect solution to providing such financing. It should be clear that, in order to solve the EU problem, the EIC Accelerator is needed and acts as a springboard to reach the desired commercialisation.

Here, the necessity of the work packages, the implementation and the desired outcome can be highlighted since it will directly reflect the impact of the grant. The EIC Accelerator must be a key step in realising the project and be presented as a must-have in the following development steps (read: TRL Stages). While “7. Non-Bankable” detailed why the grant is needed, this section describes how it is used.

4. Traction

The final parts of the technology side for the EIC Accelerator grant application will address the post-project environment and how the commercialisation will proceed. The traction can be highlighted in this section which includes the pilot customers, validations and Letters of Intent (LOI) (read:  Assessing Traction).

The main takeaway should be an impressive level of traction and interest from related stakeholders which turns the perception of a new and unproven technology into a real-life and strongly desired commercial product.

The commercialisation strategy, partners, value-chain and related factors have to be described convincingly and establish a sense of realism and opportunity.

5. Scaling

Scaling is an important term for the EU since the EIC Accelerator is specifically looking for projects that have the capacity to reach a global scale and become future EU unicorn startups. As such, it should be explained in great detail why such a scale is possible and achievable.

Financials, company growth and the overall future vision should be highlighted here and details on the impact on the environment, industry and the EU should be quantified.

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.

Want to see all articles? They can be found here.

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!



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: