Visual Representation of an EIC Accelerator Proposal Narrative (SME Instrument Phase 2) – Part 1

The EIC Accelerator grant and equity financing (formerly SME instrument Phase 2, with blended finance option) provides a springboard for startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) who are developing a disruptive innovation and seek additional financial support to complete their R&D from the prototype stage to a complete, commercial product (read: Budget: Grant vs. Blended Finance).

Provided by the European Commission (EC) and the European Innovation Council (EIC), this grant funding program has recently grown in popularity with the number of applications doubling in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) as well as extensive advertising made in the European Union (EU) regarding the sustainability-themed deadlines which provided a dedicated EIC Accelerator Green Deal call for all projects with a strong environmental impact.

With the EIC Accelerator quickly growing into a European instrument with strong mass-appeal, a significant number of first-time grant applicants are wondering how to successfully craft a proposal since the official EIC Accelerator grant template is highly simplified and can be cryptic at times (read: Hiring a Consultant or Writing Internally?).

A professional writer or consultant is usually versed in identifying and creating a compelling narrative (read: Identifying a Broad Vision and Providing the Missing Link) but for newcomers, the following presents a guide in respect to the general proposal structure from a story-perspective.

This guide is not a definite rulebook and it is by no means the only way of conceptualising a grant application but simply acts as a starting point for developing a well-written proposal draft:

Each individual part of the graphic shows a simplified way of connecting key aspects of the innovation and the industry or policy context in order to provide strong and logically sound reasoning as to why the project needs funding by the EU (i.e. as requested by the official proposal template).

In order to assure that an application has high success chances and receives positive evaluation results, it is beneficial to align the proposal with a strong narrative so that a submission or re-submission to the next deadline will have superior success chances.

Editing a proposal in a connected way also has the benefit of further refining each individual section since some details that are well known by the applicant might have been omitted by accident but, by viewing the entire proposal as a narrative, they could be introduced to perfect the storytelling.

Once again, the following method of connecting the dots is optional and should by no means be seen as the only way of thinking about an EIC Accelerator proposal but, since the annotated proposal template is not entirely detailed, this list can act as an additional resource.


Part 2 of this article can be found under the provided link.

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.

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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: