Tag Archives: SME Instrument Phase 1

The EIC’s 2023 Strategic Challenges and Topics (2023 EIC Accelerator Work Programme Part 7)

The EIC Accelerator funding (grant and equity, with blended financing option) awards up to €2.5 million in grant and €15 million in equity financing per project (€17.5 million total). It is a popular funding instrument specializing in DeepTech startups and small mid-caps which aim to finalize their product developments, enter the market and scale globally.

The EIC’s 2023 Work programme

While the European Innovation Council (EIC) has remained silent regarding the 2023 Work programme that is yet to be released, ScienceBusiness has published the second draft of the highly anticipated document dated July 2022. This article series is exploring some changes and interesting aspects of the EIC Accelerator that are relevant for startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) and for professional writers, freelancers or consultants.

ScienceBusiness has likewise published the entire library of Horizon Europe documents by the European Commission (EC) that are mostly in draft form and can be found here.

All the information and conclusions provided in this article are subject to change and the opinion of the author. The following statement by the EIC is part of the 2023 EIC Work Programme draft that this article is based on:

“This document represents a working draft of the EIC work programme for the purpose of feedback and comments from members of the Horizon Europe Programme Committee for the EIC and European Innovation Ecosystems. This draft has not been adopted or endorsed by the European Commission. Any views expressed are the views of the Commission services and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the Commission. The information transmitted is intended only for the Member State or entity to which it is addressed for discussions and may contain confidential and/or privileged material.”

The EIC Accelerator Open and Strategic Challenges

The 2023 Work Programme of the EIC is outlining the newest Strategic Challenges for the EIC Accelerator. These are renewed every year alongside the new Work Programme implementation and have separate allocated budgets. It is common that the EIC Accelerator Open and the EIC Accelerator Challenges have a comparable budget while the chances of success could be higher in the thematic challenges due to the strict topic limitations.

This is due to the smaller number of applicants compared to the EIC Accelerator Open which has no thematic restrictions but this might be irrelevant since the EIC has announced that the Strategic Challenges budget will be transferred to the EIC Accelerator Open if there are not enough applicants available. Of course, the applicants for the Strategic Challenges still retain first priority for their respective budgets.

“However, if there is insufficient applications selected for funding for a Challenge, the budget will be transferred to the other Challenges. In case there is insufficient applications selected for all the Challenges, the remaining budget will be transferred to the Accelerator Open.”

As given in the EIC’s draft Work Programme 2023, the seven new EIC Accelerator Challenges are:

Challenge 1: Novel biomarker-based assays to guide personalised cancer treatment

Specific objectives

“The overall goal of this Challenge is to support and accelerate the preclinical validation and/or clinical phase 1 work carried out by innovative SMEs (including start-ups, spinouts) and small midcaps to develop novel predictive, prognostic and companion diagnostic assays to guide cancer treatment. This Challenge has the following specific objectives:

  • develop novel companion diagnostic assays , including through liquid profiling; to identify who, among cancer patients, is more likely to benefit from a given treatment (guided treatment);develop novel predictive biomarker-based assays to identify who, among patients with potentially precancerous lesions, is more likely to develop cancer;
  • develop novel prognostic assays including through liquid profiling to identify who, among the cancer patients who underwent treatment, is more likely to recur;
  • develop novel companion diagnostic assays, including through liquid profiling to identify who, among the cancer patients receiving treatment, is more likely to develop side effects as a result of the treatment and
  • to develop novel monitoring biomarker-based assays to effectively monitor the clinical course of the disease.”

Expected outcomes and impacts

“As expected outcomes from this Challenge, clinicians will be able to:

  • Identify, who among cancer patients, is more likely to benefit from a given treatment (guided treatment)
  • Identify, who among patients with potentially precancerous lesions, is more likely to develop cancer
  • Identify, who among the cancer patients having underwent treatment, is more likely to recur
  • Identify who among the cancer patients receiving treatment, is more likely to develop side effects as a result of the treatment, affecting their quality of life and
  • More effectively monitor the clinical course of the disease”

Challenge 2: Aerosol and surface decontamination for pandemic management

Specific objectives

“The proposals should target the development and commercialisation of technological solutions facilitating social interaction in the context of pandemic emergencies, by means of one or more of the three following approaches:

  • Full systems for high-efficiency aerosol capture, pathogen deactivation and air circulation management in closed-environments (e.g., office space, in-flight, retail stores, etc.), including advanced air-filtering architectures and dynamic air circulation optimisation.
  • Next-generation face mask technologies with smart filtration materials to exceed N95 performance at low airflow resistance, with improved retention/rejection of sub-micron particles.
  • Rapid surface decontamination devices beyond state-of-the-art UV-C irradiation systems and biocidal agent dispersion.

Where advantageous, pathogen profiling sensors and sub-systems could be integrated with air renewal systems, face masks or surface decontamination devices to provide quasi- real-time information on pathogen presence for rapid decision making and/or autonomous optimisation of air circulation.

The proposals should provide preliminary evidence demonstrating that social distancing can be avoided or substantially reduced, under realistic pathogen infectivity assumptions, with the targeted technologies.”

Expected outcomes and impacts

“By reducing the need for social distancing in the event of infectious pandemics, this Challenge will empower society at large to sustain unaltered economic and social dynamics in the event of pandemic outbreaks.”

Challenge 3: Energy storage

Specific objectives

“This Challenge targets groundbreaking innovations in any field of technology that have a high potential to meet the following goals:

  • to store electric and/or thermal energy at low cost, high density, high charging/discharging efficiency and enhanced durability.
  • technological approaches (chemical, electrical, electrochemical, mechanical, thermal) for energy storage at different scales (centralized at large industrial facilities premises or distributed and at small scale level – mobile electronics), duration (short – millisecond to day, medium – days to month and long term – months to seasons) and uses (from stationary to mobile).
  • technologies that, without using critical raw materials or ensuring their full recycle/reuse, minimize their carbon footprint measured through a life-cycle analysis (including cost and social impact evaluation). The proposed technologies could also address the smart operation and control of storage assets, their integration with demand response strategies, predictive maintenance, load forecasting and decentralized renewable energy technologies.”

Expected outcomes and impacts

“The possibility to store electrical or thermal energy at low cost, high density, high charging/discharging efficiency and for different duration (from short to long) will:

  • enable a strong penetration of intermittent renewable energy resources by addressing the spatial and temporal mismatches between generation and demand,
  • set up decarbonized, interconnected, sector-coupled and flexible energy systems.
  • Increase Europe’s energy independence from unreliable suppliers”

Challenge 4: New European Bauhaus: Digitisation for sustainable and inclusive built environment

Specific Objectives

“The call aims to enable a paradigm by supporting deep tech ventures that can deliver disruptive new products and services for a digitised value chain with a focus on:

  • Computational design. ventures that develop and scale radical new products for mass-adoption of parametric, generative and algorithmic design, pushing the boundaries of physical simulation, digital twin;
  • Alternative materials. ventures active in the development, production, advanced application of alternative building materials, or building concepts, building elements, design+fabrication concepts (e/g stereotomy 2.0) based on advanced uses of alternative materials.
  • Digital fabrication. ventures developing and commercializing scalable 3Dprinting, robot assisted composites, factory and field robotics, automation products, digital molds, distributed building factories.”

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

“The overarching objective of this Challenge is to provide transformative digitally enabled solutions for the construction sector that can help it achieve climate neutrality while providing inclusive and high quality products.

The focus will be on achieving a reduction in embodied rather than operational carbon emissions. Socio-economic impacts include higher productivity, higher product quality, reduced material consumption and waste, improved construction logistic in the urban environment and increased economic impact without compromising on quality or safety.

This approach will also lead to higher quality jobs in a more progressive and appealing sector that can deliver a step-change in the overall quality of the social experience with the built environment.”

Challenge 5: Quantum computers hardware and real environment quantum sensors

Specific objectives

“The objective of this Challenge is to support ground-breaking innovations that have a high potential to develop:

  1. Next-generation fault-tolerant quantum computer(s) with:

    1. improved performance;
    2. significantly simplified QC integration with control electronics;
    3. scalable control systems (scalable to tens of thousands of qubits, needed for meaningful practical applications);
  2. Quantum sensors to function in real/harsh environment for various application areas, such as ecotoxicology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical, space, corrosion detection in power plants, gas/oil tanks, raw material detection, medical imaging, automotive and many more.”

Expected outcomes and impacts

“This Challenge is expected to support EU in taking a leading role in the development of cutting edge quantum computing and quantum sensors that can be used in real environment and deployed in various areas such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, materials science, defence, space, etc.

In mid and long term, this challenge is expected to expand the quantum capabilities of Europe, underpin its economic resilience and digital sovereignty. It should pave the way for Europe to be at the cutting edge of quantum capabilities by 2030 as envisioned by the 2030 Digital Compass: the European way for the Digital Decade.”

Specific conditions

“Applications to this EIC Accelerator Challenge may request an investment component of above EUR 15 million in duly justified cases.”

Challenge 6: Sustainable and resilient agriculture

Specific objectives

  1. “Design, development and evaluation of interdisciplinary solutions for regenerative agriculture and soil health in the areas of

    1. Fertilisation
    2. Crop protection
    3. Irrigation
    4. Tillage
    5. Soil and crop management
  2. Radical innovations in precision fermentation for the food sector, including but not limited to mycoproteins.

  3. Radical innovations in the area of natural solutions for carbon management and valorisation (carbon farmingcarbon stock in the soil, etc)

  4. Novel processes, materials, equipment, crops and microorganisms adapted to harsh environments, climate adaptation needs and resource scarcity.”

Expected outcomes and impacts

“This Challenge aims to improve the resilience and security of the European food supply chain, notably by maintaining and improving crop yield with environmentally friendly technologies, all while regenerating and increasing soil health. By aiming to valorise crop residues, this Challenge also aims to contribute to better carbon and nitrogen management practices, to mitigate climate change.

In doing so, the results arising from this challenge will foster the EU technological autonomy and leadership via focused support of innovations in the areas of sustainable and resilient agricultural production, food security, biodiversity and environmental protection. The challenge also aims to reduce the EU dependency from critical supply chains and strengthen the EU innovation ecosystem competitiveness in the strategic sectors of ecologic transition and clean, secure and cheap energy provision.”

Challenge 7: Customer driven, innovative space technologies and services

Specific objectives

“The overall goal of this challenge is to ensure Europe is able to service and protect its own Space infrastructure, avoiding the risk of losing its strategic autonomy over its own space assets, while enhancing the competitiveness of its space industry through encouraging the emergence of innovative, interoperable, scalable, and autonomous “customer-driven” innovative space technologies.

In terms of technological developments, the specific objectives of the call are:

  • To have the means to inspect spacecraft in orbit, to augment satellite capabilities and resilience;

  • To develop autonomous and in-space collision avoidance capabilities e.g., use of AL/ML for collision avoidance manoeuvres, space debris positioning data and develop in-space mobility propulsion capabilities;

  • To further mature self-assembly of spacecraft in orbit with different applications (e.g., in-orbit, cis-lunar exploration, Earth observation, space debris inspection, space situational awareness, etc.);

  • To collect and recycle space debris or recovering intact components from nonoperational satellites or cut dysfunctional satellites turning them into metal rods for potential fuel;

  • To refurbish upper stage of launchers and transform them into microgravity platforms;

  • To design and construct a R&I low Earth orbit unmanned modular platform assembled in orbit and to host in-orbit microgravity experiments or collect/reuse space debris;

  • To develop innovative technologies for Earth observation, navigation, satellite communications (SATCOM), space science, space situational awareness (SSA) and in-space logistics needing in-orbit demonstration and in-orbit validation (IOD/IOV).”

Expected outcomes and impacts

“This Challenge aims at developing:

  • an EU servicing and re-use/recycling capability for servicing EU space infrastructure, while contributing to the management and reduction of space debris;

  • timely and cost-effective Space Traffic Management services for on-time collision avoidance manoeuvres;

  • the re-use, refurbish or recycling of a spacecraft components or launchers upper stages scientific and technological solutions for in-orbit services and reuse/ refurbishing and recycling of old spacecraft (e.g. satellites, rockets upper stages, etc.);

  • Innovative propulsion solutions for in-space mobility of spacecraft”

Specific conditions

“Where relevant, companies supported under this Challenge will have access to in-orbit demonstration and testing facilities financed under Horizon Europe.”

This article is part of a series whereas the remaining articles can be found here, once published:


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.

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:

EIC Accelerator Success Rates and Feasibility Studies (SME Instrument)

The EIC Accelerator blended financing (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) is a competitive program targeted at innovative Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) and startups. Under the name SME Instrument, it was active for many years and provided a financial support system over two phases – Phase 1 and Phase 2. The former consisted of a small grant of €50,000 while the latter is identical to the EIC Accelerator today (read: EIC Accelerator Introduction).

With the last Phase 1 deadline having been in September 2019, startups today do not have the option to first apply for this seed-grant which was a great opportunity to nourish early-stage startups and allow them to fully assess a project through a feasibility study. Such a study was not only useful to analyse the validity of an innovation or business model but also acted as a springboard to prepare the information-dense Phase 2 (EIC Accelerator) proposal since it requires extensive market studies, customer descriptions and a full business plan that includes the workpackages for the grant support (read: EIC Accelerator Workpackages).

This was a very useful setup and its effects were evident in the statistics collected on the Phase 1 & Phase 2 applicant success cases throughout 2018 (read: Impact Report). In the statistical report, it was found that the chances of receiving the SME instrument Phase 2 funding were 4.1% if no Phase 1 was secured beforehand while the chances rose to 6.8% with a completed Phase 1 project. This means that just having received and completed a Phase 1 project significantly increased the success chances of grant applicants (i.e. a 65% increase).

This increase, of course, can be due to a variety of reasons and the following article presents a shortlist of effects a Phase 1 project could have on a successful Phase 2 evaluation as well as strategies to emulate this advantage for the EIC Accelerator.

Description of the Pilot Results

The most obvious reason as to why the Phase 2 application is improved after a completed Phase 1 is that such projects likely have a comprehensive description of their respective pilot studies. Since the Phase 1 report includes content on the project’s feasibility, the corresponding sections of the proposal template can be filled with suitable content. This includes the documentation on the technical feasibility, test results and the descriptions of use-cases in the relevant environment.

When writing a Phase 2 application like the EIC Accelerator, it can often happen that pilot tests are neglected or not described with great detail. To remedy this, the obsolete Phase 1 feasibility studies have incentivised applicants to elaborate on them in-depth which is likely a contributing factor for the increased success rates.

Financial and Commercial Feasibility

The Phase 1 study directly requests validations of the feasibility from a commercial and financial point of view which can easily be overlooked when writing a business plan. Key factors in this validation process are the customer demand, willingness-to-pay, expected margins and a general analysis of the opportunity which can dramatically enhance the quality of an application.

Having a separate section describing such a detailed feasibility assessment is beneficial and can be neglected if the EIC Accelerator template does not directly ask for it. Even if no Phase 1 project has been funded prior, professional writers and consultants can still benefit from adding the respective section to an application.

Budget Allocation

Workpackages are a critical part of every EIC Accelerator application but they can be tricky since companies do not usually define their development work in such a distinct manner (read: Work packages). As a result, it is easy to rush the workpackage creation and its budgeting as a mere afterthought but this can make the respective implementation less believable or too vague. The Phase 1 feasibility study did remedy this since it requested information on the project’s future, required developments and budgets which could be directly used to inform the EIC Accelerator application.

Proposal Quality

In General, the narrative of the proposal is critical and the vision should be in full alignment with the expected impact, the innovation and the project itself (read: Assessing a Project). If a company has spent 5-6 months in preparing a report for Phase 1, they have likely further refined and aligned key cornerstones of an application (read: A Proposal Narrative). This can enhance every single proposal section since the Freedom to Operate (FTO), the timing, the introduction, the hiring needs, the Key Performance Indicators (KPI), the broader impact, etc. are all highly relevant but are often only briefly addressed.

The quality of a proposal is enhanced in relation to the amount of attention that is placed on its details. This is perfectly supported by a Phase 1 feasibility study which aids in just that – giving the applicant time and a structure to fill in the blanks.

Evaluators’ Bias

Lastly, there is always a bias from the evaluator’s position since seeing that a project has successfully completed Phase 1 will make Phase 2 more appealing to them. From their perspective, the applicant has already succeeded in a highly competitive application process, has completed the stringent documentation responsibilities and has delivered a final report. This element of ‘social proof’ has an effect on the reader and, in and of itself, is expected to increase the evaluation score (read: Buzzwords for the EIC Accelerator).

How to Use this Information

First of all, the absence of a Phase 1 option under the EIC Accelerator program should not be a reason to neglect the points listed above (read: Biggest EIC Accelerator Mistakes). A feasibility study or pilot project can be conducted independently, can come from other funding sources or be performed directly with customers. Taking the time to describe the past milestones, the results of extensive R&D and presenting technical as well as commercial and financial information to validate the project should be prioritized when planning an application.

Some documentation on the now obsolete Phase 1 process can be found in the official template for the feasibility study (here) and the Grant Agreement Contract (GAC).


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.

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:

Work Packages for the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2)

Work packages are an integral part of EIC Accelerator applications (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2) and are the key to specifying and quantifying the exact use of the grant or blended financing requested (i.e. a combination of grant and equity). Professional writers and grant consultants are well aware of their importance and, as an integral part of the official EIC Accelerator proposal template, they have to be addressed with great care.

What is a Work Package?

A work package is a concrete set of tasks and development plans revolving around a specific deliverable. The EIC Accelerator recommends the use of five work packages in total which should encompass the full project scope and include all developments such as technical, financial and commercial tasks.

The individual work packages should be quantified according to their budget (i.e. separating grant and equity contributions), their timeline (i.e. giving the start and end of tasks and sub-tasks) as well as their respective project managers (i.e. task leaders, contributors, subcontractors).

Furthermore, work packages should be as credible and thought-out as possible since they will become the blueprint of the entire EIC Accelerator project if it is approved and successfully funded by the European Commission (EC). As such, work packages have to be clear, quantified, trackable and specific which allows the future project officers to assess the ongoing project, its adherence to the planned budget and also identify potentially emerging problems.

Why is a Work Package Necessary?

A large development project is separated into multiple work packages to make budgeting, tracking and accountability easier for the responsible party, namely the European Innovation Council (EIC). Without work packages, the EC would not know what the budget of the project is actually used for and the applicant would have an excessive amount of freedom over a large sum of government funds.

The work packages also help the proposal evaluators to assess the Implementation criteria and the overall credibility of the project (read: The Evaluation Summary Report). Since Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) are a key quantifier for the European Union (EU) in identifying the progress of an innovation from idea to market, the work package also helps in validating the overall development timeline and identify a project with short time-to-markets (read: How TRL’s are Funded).

Does a Company Need to Create Work Packages?

Work packages should already be an integral part of any innovation startups internal operations in one way or another since Research and Development (R&D) projects generally require a high degree of planning and careful budgeting. In addition, business plans and investors often require information on the use of funds which is why such information is likely already existing internally.

There are cases where a startup or Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) is looking for funding but does not have any quantified work packages yet which is a warning sign that the EIC Accelerator might not be a suitable financing avenue. If development plans are non-existent then this either means that the project is not innovative enough (i.e. no significant R&D) or that it is too early stage to be considered close-to-market.

A third option and also a very common case is a semi-complete work plan whereas a general vision has been developed internally but it lacks specific tasks, quantification and a clear timeline. This is often the case with startups who have an adaptable technology that can be applied in a variety of places and where the required funding source determines the path to take.

Such a preliminary plan can easily be edited and improved to match the EIC Accelerator scope and should not exclude an innovative company from submitting a proposal to the next deadline. If a previous application has been submitted but rejected with a low Implementation result, the work packages are a priority to review and edit before a re-submission is performed.

Specific and Quantified

While less relevant for the pitch interview, the proposal will need to specifically describe all of the expected tasks and cost factors (read: Pitch deck vs. Proposal). The rule is to quantify and specify as much as possible so that the progress can be tracked on a monthly and even weekly basis. Milestones, the budgeting and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) should correspond to the work package deliverables and the timeline should connect all respective items so that the evaluator is impressed by a comprehensive plan.

Prospect EIC Accelerator applicants should be aware of the types of work packages to include and not confuse feasibility assessment tasks (i.e. FTO, market analysis, etc.) with development tasks (i.e. value chain, technical tasks, certifications, etc.) since only the latter are eligible for the EIC Accelerator. The feasibility of the project (i.e. the former SME Instrument Phase 1) should have already been assessed and described inside the proposal which is why the Implementation should focus on the practical project execution.

Summary

  • What is a Work Package? A concrete set of development tasks with specific, quantified and traceable outcomes.
  • Why is a Work Package Necessary? It helps investors to keep the grant beneficiary accountable and track the budget.
  • Does a Company Need to Create Work Packages? They should already be existent internally but often have to be refined.
  • Specific and Quantified: Work packages should be quantified as much as possible and be consistent with other proposal sections.


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.

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:

Update: Proposal Template for the EIC Accelerator Green Deal Deadline (SME Instrument May 2020)

There has been an update on April 3rd (here) for the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument) template which now gives applicants the opportunity to receive inquiries from potential investors, provided a Seal of Excellence (score of 13/15) has been received. In Annex 3 of the proposal, every applicant now has the option to give consent for the publication of their contact details by the EC to interested third parties.

Success Statistics

The EIC Accelerator is highly competitive and while 30-40% of applicants reach the threshold for funding, only 3-5% of companies end up receiving financial support (a detailed analysis of the EIC Accelerator success rate for the 2018 to 2020 period will follow shortly). This option of allowing potential investors to reach out to startups will likely be very beneficial to most applicants.

This change might also be a sign for a greater ambition by the EC to create a more flourishing and VC-oriented funding network across Europe. Seal-of-excellence holders were already able to attend online pitch events and meet investors (link) but the option was rather hidden and likely used too infrequently. The recently introduced equity-finance option (blended finance) is a similar step of transitioning towards private funding as it connects startups with private industry and allows non-EU parties to provide financing instead of the EU.

In the long term, expanding the governments grant financing budget with private funding might be the only way to truly deal with the increased interest in the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument) since the number of applications keeps rising which, in turn, reduces success rates.

Call Page

Another change to the May’s EIC Accelerator submission (Green Deal) is the separation of the call page which is important to know and essential in order to pick the correct button for the submission. The new page can now be found here. If the regular EIC Accelerator page were to be used during the submission process then the proposal would register for the October deadline rather then the one in May.

Lastly, the EIC has announced (via twitter) that the interviews for the March 2020 deadline will be held remotely via video calls. This is due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic and will likely be the new norm for all of 2020. In addition, these interviews have been postponed by a week which might have a ripple effect for the Green Deal deadline on May 19th which could potentially be postponed as well to May 26th.


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.

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:

EIC Accelerator: New Proposal Template from March 20th (2020)

The new proposal template for the EIC Accelerators Green Deal deadline on May 19th has recently been released and this article summarises the major changes.

    • New Form Fields: The first change is found in the application forms under “Call Specific Questions” where it is now required to provide the gender of the CEO. This is in accordance with the new rule to have a 25% quota for female CEO’s which must be met by the EIC Accelerator. In addition, Green Deal goals must be selected via checkboxes to identify if the project is addressing any of the existing targets. Both of these changes will very likely remain part of all future EIC Accelerator deadlines.
    • New Impact Criterion: In the “Impact” section of the application template,  a new criterion named “Green Deal (May 2020 cut-off only)”  has been added which asks companies to detail the impact on the EU’s new Green Deal. This impact must be quantified and proven by providing suitable explanations and references.
    • The Equity Table is Now Mandatory: The third change can be found in the “Financing Needs” section and the “Equity Table” specifically. Since requesting equity-financing is optional, filling out the equity table has so far been optional as well. It used to state “Equity (if blended finance requested)” in the September 2019 version and now says “Equity (All applicants should fill in this section)” in the March 2020 template.

It is always useful to see if any changes have been made to the template even if an application is already completed or being re-submitted to subsequent deadlines. Each updated template contains a list of changes in the beginning which will make it easier to implement the new requirements.


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.

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:

Using the Evaluation Summary Report (ESR) to Improve Grant Proposal Writing (EIC Accelerator)

Every great grant application starts with a great project. It must be able to check all the necessary boxes from the innovation, the team, the commercialisation strategy over to the market impact but it is very common to forget how most of these factors are not directly evaluated by the reviewers.

 

Each of the four reviewers has to grade the proposal according to a variety of pre-defined micro-criteria. The four individual gradings of these criteria will be averaged (while removing the highest and lowest scores) and the final score will be calculated based on how the proposal performed in these distinct sections.

 

It is also very important to realise that the evaluation of the project is based on the proposal and not the project itself. The difference between a low score and a high score is often a week of extra writing work but entirely independent of how the project has changed during that same time. 

The official proposal template does not comment on the evaluation criteria so every writer must follow these criteria alongside the proposal template as to not miss critical information or angles which need to be addressed.

 

This following PDF document lists all of the evaluation criteria as they are presented in the Evaluation Summary Report (ESR) which is obtained after proposal submission:

 

 


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.

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 EIC Accelerator: Grant vs. Blended Financing (Equity)

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the equity financing option of the EU’s start-up grant (SME Instrument, EIC Accelerator). The EIC Accelerator offers the application for either a pure grant or blended finance (a mix between a grant and equity-based financing). 

While the application and reviewing process for both options is the same, the financing for the grant (€2.5m) and for the equity contribution (€15m) originate from different sources so the criteria for a successful proposal are also slightly different. 

While the grant is requested as is, the equity financing is based on an “offer” whereas the proposal details the overall equity contribution requested and presents an offer regarding the company shares which are provided in exchange. As such, the equity contribution requires more information compared to a simple grant application and the major points to consider are: 

    • Amount of Ownership Offered: The guidelines suggest to offer a minority ownership of at least 10% and up to 25%.
    • Exit Strategy: There is a specific section in the proposal which asks you to describe your exit strategy or your plans for the company once it has been scaled. The EU is looking at 7-10 year time frames regarding the ROI with a maximum of 15 years. Exit strategies can be buyouts, IPO’s, liquidations, etc.
    • Company Valuation over Time: You are asked to describe the progression of your company valuation using past data and your future projections, including the reasoning behind them.
    • No revenues and non-bankable: The equity contribution is directed at high-risk companies with limited or no turnover and negative EBITDA’s. This usually excludes profitable companies which are only seeking scaling support and rather targets research-heavy projects. It also defines high-risk businesses as having no interest from the market or investors just yet.
    • TRL9 activities: The equity financing is exclusively targeted towards Technology Readiness Level 9 (TRL9) activities which relate to market deployment as opposed to technical developments. This, in turn, means that if a grant is requested for activities related to product deployment and marketing then this will either be ineligible or will be transferred to equity financing.

 

There are some other minor things to consider when applying for equity financing but the points above cover the most important parts. 


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.

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

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!

 

The European Green Deal – A Dedicated Cut-Off for the EIC Accelerator

Here is some information on the new “Green Deal” deadline for the EIC Accelerator – the EU’s innovation startup funding (up to €17.5m per project). One of the four cut-off dates in 2020 has been dedicated to innovations which are focusing on anything that can have a positive and quantifiable impact on targets outlined in the Green Deal (communication of December 2019). 

This can be a significant opportunity for all startups that qualify (see conditions below) since the allocated budget will be almost double the regular budget for a Phase 2 cut-off. The usual budget per deadline in 2019 and 2020 has consistently been €160m while the “Green Deal” deadline has a €300m budget for a single deadline on May 19th. Provided the thresholds are met, there will likely be twice as many companies who will receive funding under the EIC Accelerator

Here are the conditions for the applicants. All companies must address at least one of the following targets: 

  • Mitigating climate change
  • Clean, affordable and secure energy
  • Clean industry (circular economy, recycling, waste prevention)
  • Building and renovating with high resource efficiency
  • Sustainable smart mobility
  • Food system (fair, healthy, environmentally friendly)
  • Preserving and restoring biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Zero pollution and toxic-free environments

 

This “expected impact” must be quantified and addressed in the application in relation to the targets outlined in the Green Deal. Any innovation which goes against these targets or focuses on increasing the efficiency and use of fossil fuels is ineligible. 

An additional change for the May deadline is the focus on women-led companies. At least 25% of selected startups must have women as their CEO or similar leadership positions (founders, directors, presidents etc.). If this threshold is not met then the EU has the option to invite additional companies to the second evaluation step even though they did not meet the initial threshold to be invited. 

Due to the current travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the step 2 interviews might be conducted via video conference calls instead of in-person interviews, be cancelled or be delayed to give every participant an equal opportunity. 


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.

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

For Updates: Join this Newsletter!

 

The Difference Between Innovation and Features (EIC Accelerator)

Here are some tips regarding applications for the EU’s start-up grant (up to €2,500,000 via grant + €15,000,000 through equity financing). 

The central component for the grant application is the innovative nature of the project, meaning that it not only addresses customer needs and has a significant market impact but is based on a unique technology or approach. This is key since it can be easy to confuse ‘innovation’ with a ‘collection of features’ and try to convince through narratives such as: 

  • “We do what competitors do but better”
  • “We have a wholesome approach that combines multiple existing features”

 

A unique technology (patented or not) must be difficult to copy and cannot be a simple extension of other existing products. The proposal must present a clear narrative by introducing a major problem in the introduction which then ties into your product or service through its unique value proposition. Afterwards, it addresses your strategy to overcome market barriers and describes how your customers needs relate to your innovation. The overall narrative should communicate: 

  • “We are the only company who can address the problem and meet customer needs”

Changes in the EIC Accelerator during 2019

Since 2019 has come to an end, here is a summary of the main changes that have occurred regarding the EUs startup grant – the EIC Accelerator: 

1. Equity Finance: The most significant change was the discontinuation of Phase 1 (€50,000 grant financing) and the introduction of the new blended financing option for Phase 2 (now up to €17,500,000 with grant and equity). 

2. Phase 2 Template: The template for the Phase 2 application has been reworked and includes new additions such as detailed financial information, listed KPIs, explicit need for EU support and the addition of specific summaries to the proposal introduction instead of the previously introduced executive summary. 

3. Pitch Deck: The pitch deck for the required presentations and interviews will now need to be uploaded with the application and cannot be modified later on. 

These and other minor changes will need to be considered when submitting (or re-submitting) your next proposal.