The Innovation Fund: €10 Billion Available for Low-Carbon Technology Projects

3 wind turbines in a field, set against blue skiesBackground

The EU Innovation Fund is one of the world’s largest funding programmes for low-carbon technology projects. It will provide around €10 billion of support between 2020 and 2030, supporting Europe's transition to net-zero. By helping businesses invest in clean energy and industry, the Innovation Fund will boost economic growth, create local future-proof jobs, and reinforce European technological leadership on a global scale.

First announced in 2019 and funded by the EU Emissions Trading System, the fund launched its first competition in July 2020. It replaced the Ner300 programme and holds numerous advantages over its predecessor; it improves the risk-sharing for projects by giving more funding in a more flexible way. Not only this, but it has a simpler selection process and is also open to projects from energy-intensive industries.


Funding is available for both large and small-scale projects. In general, eligible projects will focus on one of the following themes:

  • Innovative low-carbon technologies and processes in energy-intensive industries
  • Carbon capture and utilisation
  • Construction and operation of carbon capture and storage
  • Innovative renewable energy generation
  • Energy storage
Application Process

For large-scale projects, there is a two-stage application process. Firstly, there is an expression of interest stage, judging project effectiveness, degree of innovation, and project maturity. Then, the second stage is a full application; it considers all the same criteria, as well as scalability and cost-efficiency. In contrast, small-scale calls have just one stage, this being the full application. The Innovation Fund will support up to 60% of the additional capital and operational costs of large-scale projects and up to 60% of the capital costs of small-scale projects.

The first call for small-scale projects is now open and will close on 10th March 2021. For more information, visit the European Commission website. Alternatively, please contact us if you have any questions or would like to arrange a free consultation.

We are unsure whether UK organisations will be able to participate in EU funding streams following Brexit. Sign up for our free monthly newsletter for the latest updates, as well as alternative grant funding opportunities.

Source: European Commission 

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.


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.


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