Innovation Fund: First call for small-scale projects

person holding a green plantThe Innovation Fund, a new European funding stream, has launched its first call for small-scale, clean-tech projects. It has €100 million available and is also offering project development assistance for up to 20 rejected proposals. In line with the Innovation Fund’s wider objectives, the call aims to advance Europe’s transition towards climate neutrality.


The competition is open to projects with total capital costs between €2.5 and €7.5 million. Grants will cover 60% of a project’s total expenditure. The evaluators will consider the following award criteria: greenhouse gas emission avoidance, degree of innovation, project maturity, scalability, and cost-efficiency.

All projects should take place within an EU Member State, the only exceptions being Norway and Iceland. This has important implications for UK applicants; any project located in the UK will only be eligible for funding if the EU and UK reach an agreement.


Grants are available for innovative small-scale projects that are ready for market. For example, eligible projects may focus on making the first sale of new technology to pioneer customers. There are several eligible sectors within which your project can fall: renewables, energy-intensive, industries and substitute products, carbon capture and storage, energy storage. However, the call specifically encourages three key activities: products that substitute carbon-intensive ones, net carbon removal innovations, and direct air capture.

To be eligible for project development assistance, rejected proposals must meet the minimum requirements under the degree of innovation and greenhouse gas emissions criteria, and obtain at least half of the points available for project maturity. Additionally, the evaluators must believe project development assistance will help improve a project’s maturity.

For more information on the small-scale project call, visit the European Commission website. Alternatively, please contact us if you have any questions or would like to arrange a consultation. Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter to receive grant funding news direct to your inbox.

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