The following article as a continuation of the visual guide (i.e. Part 3) for the preparation of an EIC Accelerator blended financing proposal (formerly SME Instrument Phase 2, grant and equity financing) which can be used by startups or Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) as well as professional writers or consultants.
The EIC Accelerator is a highly competitive grant program offered by the European Commission (EC) and the European Innovation Council (EIC) for all eligible companies based in the European Union (EU) and associated countries (read: Pre-Requisites for an Application).
Technology (bottom half)
After the problem has been described at length and the gravity of its negative repercussions has been illustrated in great detail, the next step will be the presentation of the envisioned solution and how it solves the problem.
This Technology section does not strictly follow the annotated EIC Accelerator template but provides a more general approach as to how such a section could be structured. The official grant proposal template focuses on the business model while this visual guide follows a more abridged version of the overall narrative. It seeks to answer the question as to why the EIC Accelerator is needed as opposed to a private investor who could finance the project.
The EIC Accelerator prioritizes high-risk projects, EU policies, non-bankability and other criteria which are not exactly investor-friendly or -relevant (i.e. gender equality). As a result, this guide targets EU-specific narratives and does not go into detail with respect to other essential proposal sections. A professional grant writer should be aware that the following explanation is omitting key sections in order to present a clear perspective on how a company can argue for the EIC’s support.
While the previous narrative was focusing on introducing the missing link (i.e. Part 2), this technology part should be viewed as the enabler which is essential in solving the problem and becoming the missing link.
The first step, after having clearly explained the missing link, is to present the innovative technology that has been successfully developed. It should be clear that the Unique Selling Points (USP) of this technology are directly addressing the missing link and that these are not covered by other market alternatives (thus “unique”).
A submitted application will be much more successful if the key user needs are actually addressed only by the innovation which means that the product or service is a must-have and not a nice-to-have.
The transition from “5. Missing link” to “6. Solution” has to be seamless and it must be clear that the innovation itself is needed in order to fix the problem (read: The Missing Link). If the technological developments are not directly addressing the issue then the developments will not be viewed as essential and the evaluation score of the grant proposal will be low.
Once again, this section deviates from the grant proposal template but the content and reasoning can be applied to certain key sections in the application.
Non-bankability is a key factor for the EIC Accelerator and is the complete antithesis of what an investor usually looks for. An investor wants to invest in great companies before other investors have discovered them while the European Commission (EC) specifically wants to invest in great companies that cannot leverage further funding from any other sources.
As such, the argumentation for non-bankability has to be conducted carefully by still highlighting the competence of the team (incl. financial competence) but also highlighting the need for financing and an inability to obtain it (read: EIC Accelerator Buzzwords). The innovation project should be described as “high-risk” and it should be explained why financing cannot be obtained elsewhere (i.e. further de-risking is needed incl. validation at scale).
3. EIC Accelerator
After the critical need for financing of the innovation-project has been elaborated on, the EIC Accelerator has to be presented as the perfect solution to providing such financing. It should be clear that, in order to solve the EU problem, the EIC Accelerator is needed and acts as a springboard to reach the desired commercialisation.
Here, the necessity of the work packages, the implementation and the desired outcome can be highlighted since it will directly reflect the impact of the grant. The EIC Accelerator must be a key step in realising the project and be presented as a must-have in the following development steps (read: TRL Stages). While “7. Non-Bankable” detailed why the grant is needed, this section describes how it is used.
The final parts of the technology side for the EIC Accelerator grant application will address the post-project environment and how the commercialisation will proceed. The traction can be highlighted in this section which includes the pilot customers, validations and Letters of Intent (LOI) (read: Assessing Traction).
The main takeaway should be an impressive level of traction and interest from related stakeholders which turns the perception of a new and unproven technology into a real-life and strongly desired commercial product.
The commercialisation strategy, partners, value-chain and related factors have to be described convincingly and establish a sense of realism and opportunity.
Scaling is an important term for the EU since the EIC Accelerator is specifically looking for projects that have the capacity to reach a global scale and become future EU unicorn startups. As such, it should be explained in great detail why such a scale is possible and achievable.
Financials, company growth and the overall future vision should be highlighted here and details on the impact on the environment, industry and the EU should be quantified.
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).
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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:
- EIC Accelerator Interviews: Pitch Deck vs. Proposal Documents (SME Instrument)
- Choosing a Good Project for the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2)
- The EIC Accelerator Budget: Grant vs. Blended Finance (SME Instrument Phase 2)
- EIC Accelerator – Introduction and Blended Finance (SME Instrument Phase 2)
- EIC-Accelerator Writing: Providing the Missing Link (SME Instrument Phase 2)
- The Biggest Mistakes When Applying to the EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument Phase 2)
- Identifying a Broad Vision for an EIC Accelerator Project (SME Instrument Phase 2)