The European Commission has officially launched the European Innovation Council under Horizon Europe, following a three-year pilot phase under Horizon 2020. The agency has a budget of €10 billion for 2021-2027 to develop and scaleup breakthrough innovations. This makes the EIC the most ambitious step the EU has ever taken in the field of innovation.

The agency will support the EU’s overall strategy in building back better from Covid-19. Areas of focus include digitalisation, as well as the green agenda, climate change and sustainability. In addition, the EIC seeks to overcome biases in innovation, including those against women and poorer regions of the EU. This is reflected in the new EIC Prizes.

The first annual work programme of the EIC is now available, making funding of over €1.5 billion available for 2021. You can find more information on each of the main calls below:

EIC Accelerator

Firstly, the EIC Accelerator has €1bn available to help start-ups and SMEs bring their innovations to market and scale up. Under Horizon Europe, the EIC Accelerator features a new, simplified application system. Start-ups and SMEs can submit a short application at any time.

It provides a unique combination of blended finance, with both equity and grant funding available*. Half of the available funding will support the Green Deal, digital technologies, and health innovation.

*Please note that UK entities are only eligible for the grant component.

EIC Pathfinder

Secondly, the EIC Pathfinder will fund advanced research on breakthrough technologies. Grants are available for consortia of at least 3 partners, each of which should be established in a different Member State (or Associated Country).

The programme has a budget of €300 million, with individual research teams eligible to apply for up to €4 million in grant funding. The majority of the programme’s budget will be allocated through open calls. However, €132 million will tackle five Pathfinder challenges: self-aware artificial intelligence, tools to measure brain activity, cell and gene therapy, green hydrogen, and engineered living materials.

EIC Transition

Thirdly, the EIC Transition aims to bridge the gap between research and innovation by increasing your project’s market and technology readiness. The first call will focus on promising results generated by EIC Pathfinder pilot projects and European Research Council Proof of Concept projects.

All projects funded by the European Innovation Council will also have access to Business Acceleration Services. This includes access to coaches, mentors and expertise, partnership opportunities with corporates and investors, and a range of services and events.

European Innovation Council Prizes
  • EU Prize for Women Innovators
  • European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital)
  • European Social Innovation Competition
  • The European Innovation Procurement Awards

The EU Prize for Women Innovators and the European Capital of Innovation Awards are now open for applications. The other EIC Prizes will open later this year.

How RedKnight can help

RedKnight aims to make innovation funding as simple as possible for tech-based startups and SMEs. Since our launch in 2015, we have secured over £9.9 million of grant funding! If you’d like to discuss a project with one of our advisers, please contact us to arrange a free consultation.