The UK’s Participation in the EIC Accelerator under Horizon Europe after 2021 (SME Instrument)

The United Kingdom (UK) has officially left the European Union (EU) in February 2020 but their future relationship concerning EU funding programs has been a mystery thus far. Under Horizon 2020, the UK was largely able to participate in funding programs as could all EU-27 and third-country applicants with some minor exceptions. When participating in the EIC Accelerator blended financing program (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing), UK applicants were ineligible for equity investments by the EIC fund (read: Pre-Requisites for an Application).

This was due to the prohibition of any investments by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund in UK companies which would have otherwise been eligible for up to €15M per project in equity-financing (i.e. in addition to the €2.5M grant the UK was still eligible for) (read: Equity Financing under the EIC Accelerator).

It has now been confirmed that this situation will continue in 2021 under Horizon Europe (2021-2027) whereas UK companies can apply for grant- (i.e. €2.5M) but not for equity-financing (i.e. €15M). This has been reported by Science Business and was confirmed by the UK government through an explicit declaration which states:

“The United Kingdom and United Kingdom entities shall not participate in the European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund established under Horizon Europe.”

Article 6 on p.21 of the Document

While access to €2.5M in non-dilutive grant financing is still an exceptional opportunity for UK startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME), being excluded from the equity financing can present a barrier for future EIC Accelerator applicants from the UK. To counteract this limitation, it can be useful for such companies to establish EU subsidiaries or parent companies (i.e. in Ireland) which can be used for future applications to re-gain access to equity funding via the EIC Fund and the EIB.

This article was last modified on May 15, 2021 @ 13:58

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: -
    • 4th cut-off: October 19th 2023 (extended)
  • Step 3 (interview)
    • 1st cut-off: -
    • 2nd cut-off: -
    • 3rd cut-off: October 2nd to 6th (extended)
    • 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

EIC Accelerator Success Cases

Deciding Between EIC Pathfinder, Transition and Accelerator

A Winning Candidate for the EIC Accelerator

EIC Accelerator Interview Preparation Process: Scripting the Pitch (Part 1)