New EIC Board holds its first plenary meeting

The recent inaugural meeting of the new European Innovation Council (EIC) Board, held on January 10 and 11, 2024, in the prestigious imec facility in Leuven, Belgium, marks a significant milestone in the journey towards fostering innovation across Europe. This event symbolises the commitment of the European Union (EU) to spearhead innovation and sets the stage for strategic advancements in European research and innovation.

Appointed by the European Commission (EC) on December 13, 2023, the new EIC Board, under the leadership of its President, Michiel Scheffer, holds a pivotal role in guiding the direction of the EIC. The Board’s responsibilities extend beyond advisory roles; they encompass shaping the strategy, work programme, thematic portfolios, and, upon the Commission's request, advising on broader innovation policy matters. This structure ensures a comprehensive approach to innovation, integrating strategic insights with practical implementations.

The EIC Board is scheduled to convene five to six plenary meetings annually. These sessions are crucial for deliberating on the EIC's strategic and operational frameworks and advising the EC on various matters within their mandate. The recent meeting marked the first plenary session with the new Board membership. The primary agenda was to establish the priorities for the Board’s work in 2024, especially focusing on strategizing and implementing the EIC's objectives for the latter half of the 2024-27 programme. This session was attended by Iliana Ivanova, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth, who engaged with Board members in a fruitful exchange on the EIC’s priorities within the broader context of EU policies and the mid-term review of Horizon Europe. Horizon Europe, the EU's flagship funding programme for research and innovation, is integral to the EIC's mission, underscoring the importance of aligning the EIC's strategies with the overarching goals of the EU.

The composition of the EIC Board reflects a blend of continuity and fresh perspectives. Members serve in a personal capacity, with their terms set for two years, renewable twice. This structure facilitates the rotation of approximately one-third of the members every two years, ensuring a dynamic infusion of ideas and experiences. The current Board, comprising 10 members with renewed mandates from the 2021-23 period and 10 new members selected from a reserve list, represents a diverse and experienced group of individuals committed to steering Europe towards a brighter, innovation-driven future.

The mandate of these new and renewed members, extending until December 2025, symbolises a period of opportunity and challenge. As Europe navigates through complexities of the modern world, the EIC Board's role becomes increasingly vital. It embodies a strategic think-tank, poised to influence the direction of European innovation, making substantial contributions to the development and implementation of policies that nurture research, innovation, and education.

As the Board embarks on its journey to shape the future of innovation, its decisions and strategies will undoubtedly play a critical role in determining the trajectory of Europe's innovation landscape. With a balanced mix of continuity and new insights, the EIC Board is well-positioned to drive significant advancements in research and innovation, ultimately contributing to the prosperity and competitiveness of the EU on the global stage.


Eureka Eurostars: frequently asked questions (FAQs)

1. What is Eureka Eurostars?

Eureka Eurostars is an international funding programme for innovative SMEs. It provides funding for collaborative R&D projects that create innovative products, processes or services for commercialisation.

2. What are the eligibility criteria?

To apply, you must fulfil six eligibility criteria:

  • Your consortium must be led by an innovative SME from a Eurostars country.
  • Your consortium must include entities from at least two Eurostars countries.
  • The budget of the SME(s) from a Eurostars country, excluding subcontracting, must be 50% or more of the total project cost.
  • No single participant or country should be responsible for more than 70% of the project budget.
  • The project duration must be 36 months or less.
  • The project must have an exclusively civilian purpose.
3. Who are the participating countries?

There are 37 participating countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye and the United Kingdom.

4. What funding is available?

As a decentralised programme, each Eureka country administrates its own participation, meaning every country has its own rules, regulations, and grant rate. UK registered SMEs can apply for a total grant of up to €360,000 or 60% of the total eligible project costs (whichever is the least).

5. What stage of development does Eurostars fund?

Eureka Eurostars supports early-stage R&D projects to transition from TRL 4 until TRL 6.

6. How do UK organisations apply?

If you are a UK lead applicant, you must submit an Innovate UK application and complete the Eureka application on behalf of your project. If your consortium is led by an organisation from another participating country, one of the UK grant claiming partners will need to submit the application to Innovate UK.

7. What is the evaluation process?

Eurostars has a centralised evaluation process. In the first step, each eligible application is assessed by three independent experts commissioned by the Eureka Association. A legal and financial viability check also takes place at this stage.

Then, applications that pass the evaluation and legal and financial viability check are evaluated by the Independent Evaluation Panel. They define a ranking list of the applications and recommend the top applications for funding.

8. What are the chances of success?

29% of all applications receive funding. It is less competitive than similar innovation funding streams, such as Innovate UK Smart Grants and the EIC Accelerator.

9. Can I apply again if I am unsuccessful?

Yes, you can resubmit a Eurostars application to Innovate UK if your first attempt is unsuccessful. However, you are limited to a maximum of two applications to Innovate UK with any given proposal.

10. How can RedKnight help?

RedKnight has a proven track record with Eureka Eurostars and can help you develop a competitive application. Most recently, we won €674,160 on behalf of the FrOLik consortium – read more about this here.

RedKnight's logoIf you are looking for bid writing support with a Eureka Eurostars application, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us in order to arrange a free consultation.


Eureka Eurostars 3: Call 3 now open

Eureka Eurostars 3: Call 3 is open for applications until 15th September. Through this competition, UK registered SMEs can apply for a share of £2.5 million to fund collaborative R&D projects with organisations from participating Eureka Eurostars member countries.

Scope

Applicants must develop an innovative product, technology-based application, or technology-based service with high market potential, and transition from TRL 4 to TRL 6. All proposals must demonstrate:

  • a game-changing or disruptive idea leading to new products, processes or services
  • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses market potential and needs
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines
  • good value for money
  • a clear, evidence-based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
  • clear, considerable potential to significantly benefit the UK economy and/or national productivity
  • the benefit of participants from the countries working together and how this adds value
  • a clear definition of where intellectual property can be used and shared between the participants and countries
  • a clear route to market within two years of project completion
Eligibility

UK registered SMEs can apply for a total grant of up to €360,000 or 60% of the total eligible project costs (whichever is the least). To apply, you must also fulfil the following seven eligibility criteria:

  1. The project lead is an innovative SME from a Eurostars country.
  2. Include at least two independent entities in your consortium.
  3. Include entities from at least two Eurostars' countries in your consortium.
  4. The budget of the SME(s) from a Eurostars country, excluding subcontracting, is 50% or more of the total project cost.
  5. No single participant or country is responsible for more than 70% of the project budget.
  6. The project duration is less than 36 months.
  7. The project has an exclusively civilian purpose.
How can RedKnight help?

RedKnight's logoRedKnight has an excellent track record of supporting applications to Eureka Eurostars. For example, we recently won €674,160 on behalf of the FrOLik consortium – read more about this here. If you are looking for bid writing support and would like to arrange a free consultation, get in touch today.


An update on the EIC Accelerator

The European Commission has provided an update on the EIC Accelerator – Europe’s flagship programme for start-ups and SMEs developing breakthrough technologies and innovation. It claims implementation is back on track amid continued strong interest in the programme.

State of implementation

Since its launch in March 2021, the EIC Accelerator has experienced delays in the signature of grant and investment agreements. This is due to disagreement over the management of the EIC Fund.

Things finally appear to be back on track as the European Commission expects to approve all delayed grant decisions from the 2021 cut-offs by the end of the summer. They also announced the first equity investment this month, with further investments set to follow in the next few weeks.

Revised strategic goals

The EIC Board has published a revised set of strategic goals for 2021-27. In short, the European Innovation Council aims to:

  1. Be the investor of choice for those with visionary ideas.
  2. Crowd €30-50 billion investment into European deep tech.
  3. Pull through high-risk technologies in critical areas for society and strategic autonomy.
  4. Increase the number of European unicorns and scale ups.
  5. Catalyse innovation impacts from European public R&D.
  6. Achieve operational excellence.

Operational excellence is underpinned by two significant key performance indicators: i) startups to receive first grant payment within 4-5 months of applying to the EIC and ii) EIC Fund to agree investment term sheet within 8 weeks. You can read the full list of strategic goals and key performance indicators here.

Level of interest

The European Innovation Council received 986 full applications to the June 15th cut-off. The highest number of applications came from Germany (110), Israel (87), Italy (85) and Spain (81). Successful companies will be invited to interview in September, with selection decisions expected in October.

UK participation

UK entities can apply to most Horizon Europe funding opportunities on the same terms as EU-based applicants. While this includes the grant element of the EIC Accelerator, UK applicants are unfortunately not eligible to receive loans or equity from the EIC Fund.

Please note that the UK is still in the process of associating to Horizon Europe. However, there is a ‘Horizon Europe guarantee’ scheme in place for successful UK applicants who are unable to sign grant agreements with the EU.

RedKnight has a strong track record of securing innovation funding and can help you develop a competitive application! Please contact us in order to arrange a free consultation.


Beginner’s Guide: How to build an effective consortium in Horizon Europe

International cooperation is at the heart of Horizon Europe; for most calls for proposals, you will need to apply as a team of at least three partner organisations from different Member States or Associated Countries. However, building a winning consortium is no easy task! Here are five tips to keep in mind if you’re just getting started:

1. Start early

It’s important that you give yourself plenty of time to build a consortium. This will allow you to speak with numerous organisations to ensure you get the very best people on board for your project.

Where possible, we recommend starting the consortium-building process before calls are even announced. It is worth familiarising yourself with the Horizon Europe strategic plan, which sets the strategic orientations for research and innovation investments in the programme's first four years. In addition, work programmes set out funding opportunities under Horizon Europe and can help you anticipate upcoming calls. From here, you can start building out a network of relevant organisations.

Tip: Think about the time needed to prepare the bid. The more partners, the longer this will take!

2. Use your network

Your network is the best place to start looking for potential project partners! Firstly, consider whether you have existing collaborators who can help you deliver the project. Not only this, but do your existing collaborators have contacts who can help?

Tip: Previous (successful) collaborations indicate your consortium work well together, therefore mitigating some of the risks associated with the project.

… But don’t be afraid to look beyond it!

While your network is a great place to start, it’s important that you don’t just work with your friends. If they have the necessary skills and experience – great! If not, you should look outside of your network to find organisations that better fit the project.

One way to find new partners is through the built-in Partner Search tool on the European Funding and Tenders Portal. Organisations can search for potential partners for collaborative projects through the partner search page (link this) and through specific topic pages.

Other places to find partners online include Crowdhelix, an Open Innovation network for organisations seeking Horizon Europe funding, and LinkedIn groups. We would also recommend participating in Info Days and brokerage events where possible, as they are a great way to network and form new collaborations.

Tip: Short on time? You can publish your own Partner Search request on the EU Funding and Tenders Portal with details of what you are looking for.

3. Keep the budget in mind

The size of the consortium will be impacted by the size of the grant available. You need to ensure that you have a sufficient budget to fund the number of partners involved in the project. All partners will also need to be aware of the grant amount ceiling so they can construct their work plans in line with the money available.

Tip: If the budget is stretched, you may need to consider scaling back the number of partners involved in the project.

4. Keep your end objectives in mind

Before you approach potential partners, you should have a clear understanding of what it is you want to do. This way, you will know exactly who to approach and can ensure that the consortium brings together the necessary expertise to fulfil the project’s end objectives.

Tip: Consider the evaluation criteria - in what way does each of the partners contribute to the project? Do they each have a valid role, and adequate resources in the project to fulfil that role?

5. Manage expectations from the very start

As the project coordinator, your role is to manage the expectations of all partners. We recommend:

  • Discussing roles and responsibilities, in terms of both writing the proposal and delivering the project.
  • Ensuring all partners agree on the budget. As the project coordinator, you should have the final say.
  • Discussing the likelihood of success. All partners should recognise that EU funding calls are extremely competitive and even excellent teams aren’t guaranteed to succeed.
  • Ensuring all partners have access to a project management and delivery handbook.

Tip: Organise a face-to-face meetup if you can! It’s important that all partners get to know each other to ensure the project runs smoothly.

How can RedKnight help?

RedKnight can help you identify potential project partners as part of our retained consultancy package. You can find more information here. Or, if you’ve already formed a consortium and are looking for bid writing support, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us to arrange a free consultation.


European Commission adopts EIC Work Programme 2022

The European Commission has adopted the 2022 work programme of the European Innovation Council (EIC)! In 2022, it will provide €1.7 billion for breakthrough innovators to scale up and create new markets.

EIC Pathfinder

Firstly, the EIC Pathfinder will receive €350 million to fund early-stage technology research. €183 million will be awarded through Pathfinder Open, with submissions open from 1st March until 4th May. The remaining €167 million aims to tackle the following six challenges:

  • Carbon dioxide and nitrogen management and valorisation
  • Mid-long term, systems-integrated energy storage
  • Cardiogenomics
  • Healthcare continuum technologies
  • DNA-based digital data storage
  • Alternative approaches to quantum information processing, communication, and sensing.

These calls will open from 15th June until 19th October.

EIC Transition

Secondly, the EIC Transition will receive €131 million to fund technology validation and spin-out. It will focus on promising results generated by both EIC Pathfinder and European Research Council Proof of Concept projects. Calls open from 1st March, with €70.9 million allocated to EIC Transition Open and €60.5 million to the following Transition Challenges:

  • Green digital devices for the future
  • Process and system integration of clean energy technologies
  • RNA-based therapies and diagnostics for complex or rare genetic diseases
EIC Accelerator

Lastly, the EIC Accelerator will provide €1.16 billion for start-ups and SMEs to develop and scale up high impact innovations. Applicants can submit a short application at any time. Then, the cut-off dates for full applications are 23rd March, 15th June, and 5th October.

What’s new in the 2022 EIC Work Programme?
  • A new EIC-Scale Up 100 Initiative to identify 100 potential deep-tech unicorns.
  • Equity investments above €15 million for technologies of strategic European interest.
  • Stronger support for women innovators through the development of an innovation gender and diversity index.
  • The EU Prize for Women Innovators includes two new prizes for innovators under 35.
  • More frequent application deadlines.
  • Second-time applicants to the EIC Accelerator can describe and defend the improvements made to their resubmission.
More Information

Further information on each of the calls is available in the EIC Work Programme 2022. There will also be an Information Day on 22nd February. If you are planning to apply for funding and would like bid writing support, please contact us in order to arrange a free consultation.


Eureka Eurostars: £2.5 million available for collaborative research and development

A new Eureka Eurostars call is open for applications! Through this competition, UK registered SMEs can apply for a share of £2.5 million for collaborative research and development projects. They must develop an innovative product, technology-based application, or technology-based service with high market potential.

Scope

All proposals must demonstrate:

  • a game-changing or disruptive idea leading to new products, processes or services
  • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses market potential and needs
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines
  • good value for money
  • a clear, evidence-based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
  • clear, considerable potential to significantly benefit the UK economy and/or national productivity
  • the benefit of participants from the countries working together and how this adds value
  • a clear definition of where intellectual property can be used and shared between the participants and countries
  • a clear route to market within two years of project completion
Eligibility

UK registered SMEs can apply for a total grant of up to €360,000 or 60% of the total eligible project costs (whichever is the least). To apply, you must fulfil the following seven eligibility criteria:

  1. The project lead is an innovative SME from a Eurostars country.
  2. Your consortium includes at least two independent entities.
  3. Your consortium includes entities from at least two Eurostars countries
  4. The budget of the SME(s) from a Eurostars country, excluding subcontracting, is 50% or more of the total project cost.
  5. No single participant or country is responsible for more than 70% of the project budget.
  6. The project duration is less than 36 months.
  7. The project has an exclusively civilian purpose.
More Information

RedKnight has an excellent track record with supporting applications to Eureka Eurostars. For example, we recently won €674,160 on behalf of the FrOLik consortia – read more about this here.

This competition is open from 21st January until 24th March. For more information and to apply, please visit the competition page. Additionally, if you are looking for bid writing support and would like to arrange a free consultation, get in touch today.


EU Missions receive €673 million investment

Last month, the European Commission adopted an amendment to the Horizon Europe work programme for 2021-2022, increasing its budget to €15.4 billion. This includes €673 million to roll out the following EU Missions:

1) Cancer

This mission aims to improve the lives of more than three million people affected by cancer by 2030. With a total budget of €125 million, it will invest:

  • €60 million in projects developing new methods and technologies for cancer screening and early detection
  • €54 million to improve understanding of the impact of risk factors and health determinants
  • €11 million to develop a set of quality of life and patient preference measures for cancer patients and survivors
2) Adaptation to Climate Change

‘Adaptation to Climate Change’ will help at least 150 European regions and communities to become climate resilient by 2030. Its €122 million budget will support a variety of activities, such as the development of climate change risk assessments and large-scale demonstrators of climate resilience.

3) Restoring Oceans, Seas and Waters

This Mission aims to restore, protect and preserve the health of Europe’s oceans, seas and waters by 2030. It will invest €114 million in projects to protect the EU’s waters, prevent pollution, and create a sustainable, carbon-neutral and circular Blue Economy.

4) Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities

The 'Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities' Mission intends to deliver 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030. It has a range of calls totalling €119 million to support the transition towards climate neutrality in cities. They are in areas such as urban planning, the innovation potential of public transport, and Positive Clean Energy Districts.

5) Soil Health and Food

The mission’s goal is to establish 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030. With a total budget of €62 million, the Commission will launch calls to validate and develop indicators for soil health and functions, increase understanding of the link between soil health and safe food, and much more.

The first EU Missions calls are open for applications, with more information available in the updated 2021-2022 work programme. The European Commission has also organised Info Days for prospective applicants on 18th and 19th January – see the full programme here.

RedKnight can help you produce a competitive application, significantly increasing your chances of securing funding! Please contact us to discuss an application in more detail.  


Delays in formalising the UK’s association to Horizon Europe cause concern

Delays in formalising the UK’s association to Horizon Europe are causing growing concern amongst the UK research and innovation community.

In December 2020, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement revealed that the UK would associate to Horizon Europe. This meant UK entities would be able to access funding on equivalent terms as organisations in EU countries.

However, ten months on, the European Commission is yet to sign off on the deal. In recent weeks, Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, has said that the UK will only be allowed to associate to Horizon Europe once other political disputes are resolved (Source: Science | Business).

Growing Concern

Organisations in both the EU and the UK are becoming increasingly concerned about the delay. The European University Association has claimed that delays are creating unnecessary insecurity within the European knowledge community, which threatens plans for scientific cooperation.

In a recent statement, they called for the process of association to be accelerated:

“Europe’s universities therefore urge the European Commission and the UK government to finalise Protocol I linked to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement as a basis for UK association and to move onward to a fast and successful association of the UK to Horizon Europe.”

What does this mean for UK applicants?

Despite recent uncertainty, UK entities can continue to apply for funding from Horizon Europe. However, grant agreements will only be signed once association has been finalised.

In an earlier Q&A on the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe, the European Commission said they expect the UK’s association agreement to enter into force before the first grant agreement signings.

With several countries already formally associated to Horizon Europe, we are hopeful that the UK's agreement will follow soon. Share your thoughts in the comments below and please contact us if you have any questions.


Pump priming grants available for UK Horizon Europe applicants

UK researchers can apply for grants of up to £5000 from the ‘Horizon Europe Pump Priming Collaboration between UK and EU Partners’ funding call. This competition is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered by organisations including the British Academy and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The purpose of this call is to support the development of collaborative activity between UK and EU/associated countries’ entities. It focuses specifically on Pillar 2 of Horizon Europe (Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness).

Applicants can use this funding for various activities, including feasibility studies, application advice and training, and partnership building. Significantly, this extends to support services such as proposal writing.

Eligibility
  • Proposals are welcome in all disciplines.
  • All projects must be led by a named Principal Investigator, who will be responsible for directing and managing the grant. They should be a researcher of at least postdoctoral status from an eligible UK-based organisation. In addition, their position should last at least the duration of this grant.
  • The competition welcomes proposals from UK research institutes and universities. It encourages proposals that involve working with any other type of organisations eligible for Horizon Europe funding, such as SMEs, hospitals, and commercial partners.
  • Applicants must identify a call in Pillar 2 that they intend to apply to as a result of this pump priming funding.
  • This funding can only apply to calls that open between 1st September 2021 and 7th September 2022.

The full eligibility criteria are available in the Scheme Notes.

How to apply

All applicants must register in the British Academy’s online Flexi-Grant system. From there, they will need to complete a short application form that provides details of their planned project.

The deadline for the first wave of assessment is 13th October 2021. Further assessments will take place every two weeks until all funding has been allocated. For more information and to apply, please visit the British Academy website.

Source: British Academy