The Two Most Important Features for an SME Instrument Project (EIC Accelerator)

Here is some information on the EUs startup grant to help you find out if you can apply. I am always looking for two major things to quickly assess a companies success chances: Innovation & Traction.

(1) Innovation

The EU specifically funds high-risk and high-reward projects. This means that the innovation should be market-disrupting or market-creating and that you have overcome barriers which other companies have failed to overcome. Two major questions I always ask are:


  • If you consider your closest competitor, can you name at least one or two things that make your product unique?
  • If a large company would attempt to copy your product, could they succeed in less than a year?

(2) Traction

While the innovation is central to the SME Instrument funding, the market interest is just as important. You must show that there is a clear market need for your product and the best way is to have written proof of intent. You must at least be in contact with some customers or, even better, have ongoing pilot studies or revenues from your current product.


Innovation & Traction are always the first two things I ask for when talking to companies. If these check out, the pre-requisites for a successful grant application are met in almost all cases.