European Innovation Agencies Make Plans to Strengthen Innovation

The European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) have signed a letter of intent to coordinate efforts and strengthen Europe’s innovation services, pledging to build a “more integrated and inclusive EU innovation ecosystem for the benefit of EU innovators.”

Potential areas of cooperation are currently being tested in three €1 million pilot projects. The innovation agencies will finalise their collaboration in Spring 2021, before rolling it out in 2022.

Context

The EIC and EIT are complementary organisations, working towards the shared goal of translating Europe’s research strengths into jobs and growth. However, they operate in different ways:

  • The EIT focuses on the integration of higher education, research, and innovation to address global challenges set in Horizon Europe. It has eight designated Knowledge and Innovation Communities, each of which addresses a specific societal challenge.
  • In contrast, the EIC provides financial support for innovators. Its focus is on all areas of disruptive and breakthrough market-creating innovation.

A closer working relationship between the two institutions will enable companies from underperforming countries to secure more funding. As a result, this will help narrow the innovation gap between east and west Europe.

Significance

EU research commissioner, Mariya Gabriel, has labeled the move “a stepping stone in creating the European Innovation Area.” It marks a recognition that European innovation is vital. Innovative ideas key to tackling major societal challenges, including Covid-19 and climate change. They can also help Europe regain its position as a world leader in the field of innovation.

Please note: Negotiations are still ongoing to determine the UK's participation in Horizon Europe, the EU's next funding programme for research and innovation. However, UK scientists, researchers, and businesses can still apply for funding from the European Green Deal, the last and biggest call under Horizon 2020. You can read more about this competition here.

Source: Science|Business


Increase in funding for game-changing green innovation and woman-led companies…

A significant increase to the European Innovation Council (EIC) Pilot budget is expected to be adopted by the European Commission in March 2020, to support game-changing, market-creating innovation and deep-tech SMEs to scale-up, paving the ground for the launch of a ‘fully-fledged’ programme in Horizon Europe (2021 – 2027).

A one-off EIC Accelerator call for ‘green deal’ start-ups and SMEs is expected, whereby all applicants submitting for the 19th May 2020 cut-off will need to demonstrate how their innovation contributes to the goals of The European Green Deal. The 7th October 2020 cut-off for the EIC Accelerator Pilot will remain open to all innovations.

Additional opportunities for companies with women CEOs (or equivalent positions) is also expected, to ensure 25% of all finalists in the EIC Accelerator Pilot are women-led companies. If, following the first-round remote evaluation, a minimum of 25% of companies selected for the final-stage interviews are not led by women, additional interviews will be scheduled.

An advanced version of the amended EIC Work Programme is due to be released by the end of February, and the final version by the end of March, replacing plans for the year ahead in the current EIC Pilot Work Programme 2018 - 2020.


Important EIC Accelerator update for UK applicants...

The Withdrawal Agreement means that the UK can continue to participate in EU programmes, including Horizon 2020, that are financed by the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) until their closure (i.e. for the lifetime of grants). UK participants will continue to receive EU grant funding for the lifetime of individual Horizon 2020 projects, including projects finishing after the transition period ends at the end of 2020.

UK scientists, researchers and businesses can continue to participate in and lead Horizon 2020 projects and apply for Horizon 2020 grant funding. The vast majority of Horizon 2020 projects will be able to continue as before during the transition period and beyond. This includes ERC, MSCA, and the EIC Accelerator. However, for the latter, UK entities are now only eligible for the grant element of the programme, meaning they cannot apply for equity support.

A very limited number of UK Horizon 2020 projects, which involve access to security-related sensitive information restricted for EU Member States, may be unable to continue after EU Exit in their current form. The government expects the European Commission to inform participants if this is the case.