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.”
Technology Readiness Levels (TRL)
In the new 2023 EIC Work Programme, the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) have been slightly simplified from the previous iteration whereas the new TRL’s are as follows (read: How the EIC Funds TRL’s):
- basic principles observed
- technology concept formulated
- experimental proof of concept
- technology validated in lab
- technology validated in relevant environment
- technology demonstrated in relevant environment
- system prototype demonstration in operational environment
- system complete and qualified
- actual system proven in operational environment
Unfortunately, the newest deadlines or cut-offs for the 2023 EIC Accelerator have not been published with the released draft of the EIC’s Work Programme. Once they are known, they will be available here: EIC Accelerator Deadlines.
While the draft of the 2023 Work Programme is still unofficial, it contained a hint that the EIC Accelerator’s first cut-off will only focus on the EIC Accelerator Open while the Strategic Challenges do not apply to the first date.
“[Cutoff dates to be inserted] [for first cut-off, only Accelerator Open (not Accelerator challenges)]”
For the EIC Pathfinder Open, the first deadline in 2023 was given as:
“The deadline for submitting your proposal is 7 March 2023 at 17h00 Brussels local Time.”
The timelines outlined in the 2023 Work Programme for the evaluations of EIC Accelerator proposals are 4 weeks for Step 1 and 6 weeks for Step 2 but these times can vary greatly depending on the workload encountered by the EIC.
The timing is also affected by the set dates for the Step 3 interviews whereas the EIC will be faster on occasions when the interview week is close while they can be slower if the interview week is far out.
EIC Accelerator Step 3 Interviews and Budgets
The EIC’s 2023 Work Programme defines priority orders in case of limitations in the budget or interview slots encountered by applicants. If the number of applicants or their budget requests exceeds the available resources, the applications will be prioritized by their recommendation status for the interview, the sex of the company’s CEO and the timing of the initial submission.
The priority order is:
- “All companies that were invited by the jury to resubmit directly to one of the next interview sessions;
- Gender balance: women-led companies (up to 40% of invited companies is reached);
- Submission date and time: any remaining companies will be prioritised based on the date and time submission of their short proposal.
The remaining batch of companies to interview will be invited to a further set of interviews to be organised before the interviews of the next cut-off date.”
And this priority order also applies for the budget allocations:
“In case the amount allocated to GO applicants is above the budget available, then a number of applicants corresponding to the unavailable budget will be awarded funding using the available budget of the subsequent cut-off. Such applicants will be identified using the ordering set out above for the invitation to interviews.”
This article is part of a series whereas the remaining articles can be found here, once published:
- The Eligible Applicants (2023 EIC Accelerator Work Programme Part 1)
- How Grant-First Projects get Equity Investments (2023 EIC Accelerator Work Programme Part 2)
- The Conditions for EIC Equity Investments (2023 EIC Accelerator Work Programme Part 3)
- Technology Readiness Levels, Timelines and Interview Priorities (2023 EIC Accelerator Work Programme Part 4)
- Cancelling Funding and Changing Grant Requests (2023 EIC Accelerator Work Programme Part 5)
- The Grant Proposal Evaluation Criteria (2023 EIC Accelerator Work Programme Part 6)
- The EIC’s 2023 Strategic Challenges and Topics (2023 EIC Accelerator Work Programme Part 7)
- The New EIC Ecosystem, Fast-Track and Pilot Plug-In Schemes (2023 EIC Accelerator Work Programme Part 8)
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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) under Horizon Europe are:
- Step 1 (short proposal)
- open now
- Step 2 (business plan)
- 1st cut-off: -
- 2nd cut-off: -
- 3rd cut-off: June 7th 2023
- 4th cut-off: October 4th 2023
- Step 3 (interview)
- 1st cut-off: -
- 2nd cut-off: May 22nd to June 2nd
- 3rd cut-off: September 11th to 22nd
- 4th cut-off: November 27th to December 8th
The Step 1 applications must be submitted weeks in advance of Step 2. The next EIC Accelerator cut-off for Step 2 (full proposal) can be found here. After Brexit, UK companies can still apply to the EIC Accelerator under Horizon Europe albeit with non-dilutive grant applications only - thereby excluding equity-financing.
Contact: You can reach out to us via this contact form to work with a professional consultant.
EU, UK & US Startups: Alternative financing options for EU, UK and US innovation startups are the EIC Pathfinder (combining Future and Emerging Technologies - FET Open & FET Proactive) with €4M per project, Thematic Priorities, European Innovation Partnerships (EIP), Innovate UK with £3M (for UK-companies only) as well as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants with $1M (for US-companies only).
Any more questions? View the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section.
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by Stephan Segler, PhD
Professional Grant Consultant at Segler Consulting
General information on the EIC Accelerator template, professional grant writing and how to prepare a successful application can be found in the following articles:
A Quick FTO Guide for EIC Accelerator Applicants in a Rush
2023 Budget Allocations for EIC Pathfinder, Transition and Accelerator
Developing the Unique Selling Points (USP) for the EIC Accelerator
Explaining the Resubmission Process for the EIC Accelerator
A Short but Comprehensive Explanation of the EIC Accelerator
Deciding Between EIC Pathfinder, Transition and Accelerator
A Winning Candidate for the EIC Accelerator
EIC Accelerator Interview Preparation Process: Scripting the Pitch (Part 1)