Open for Applications
The European Innovation Council (EIC) is Europe’s flagship innovation programme to identify, develop, and scale up breakthrough technologies and game changing innovations. The EIC programme has a budget of €10.1 billion to support these initiatives.
The overarching strategy for the funding programme is to provide comprehensive and targeted funding for the entire innovation process. To accomplish this, the EIC funding programme is organized into three main funding schemes:
EIC Pathfinder: Provides funding for advanced research to develop the scientific basis to underpin breakthrough technologies.
EIC Transition: Supports projects to validate technologies and develop business plans for specific applications.
EIC Accelerator: Supports companies (SMEs, start-ups, spin-outs, scale-ups and small mid-caps) to bring their innovations to market and scale up.
In this sense, the Pathfinder programme supports the research and ideation of new technologies and innovative concepts; the Transition programme validates new technologies and helps develops a business plan for those technologies; and the Accelerator programme supports companies to bring those innovations to market. A summary of the main calls in 2021 are included below.
Each funding programme within EIC has both open calls for innovation and challenge driven calls. Open calls have no pre-defined thematic priorities and are designed to cut across different scientific, technological, sectoral, and application fields or represent novel combinations of those different sectors. The challenge driven approach provides funding to address specific technological and innovation breakthroughs. These challenges consider EU priorities for transitioning to a green, digital, and healthy society as well as the overall strategic planning for Horizon Europe and the input of stakeholders, experts, and the EIC pilot Advisory Board.
For the EIC Pathfinder and EIC transition calls, finding open calls should be familiar to anyone who has applied to an EU funding programme before; interested parties simply go to the EU funding portal from the EIC website, find a call that suits their needs, and they apply to the call according to the criteria presented. However, the EIC Accelerator programme has an entirely different application process which interested parties should be aware of.
Applicants applying to the EIC Accelerator programme will need to apply through the Accelerator AI powered application platform. Essentially, the AI platform helps the applicant through all phases of the application process from ideation of the project concept to submitting a full project application.
The application process on the EIC platform includes 5 steps which is elaborated in the figure below:
At each stage of the process, you will receive a “Go” indication if you are successful and can move on to the next stage or a “No go” indication. Participants can receive a “No-go” after step 1, step 3, and step 4 of the application process (figure 2). In the event of a “No-go” response, the application submitter can resubmit their application but there is different criteria that applies for each step:
“No-go” after step 1:
1. First time rejected, you may resubmit your proposal or submit a new one to the step 1 at any time. If you resubmit your initial proposal, your short application is expected to be improved.
2. Second time rejected, you will not be allowed to resubmit to the short application step for 12 months. Your short application will have to be a new or significantly improved proposal.
“No-go” after step 3
1. First time rejected, you may resubmit a full application to the remote evaluation (step 2) in one of the next two cut offs. Your application will be expected to be improved based on the feed-back received from the expert-evaluators.
2. Second time rejected, you may submit after 12 months a short application (step 1), a new or significantly improved proposal.
“No-go” after step 4
1. First time rejected, you may resubmit an improved full proposal to the remote evaluation (step 2) at one of the following two cut-offs.
2. First rejection and the jury decides that your proposal is a potential GO after improvements: you may be invited to resubmit a revised proposal directly to one of next two interview sessions, (stage 4). This type of resubmission is permitted only once.
3. Second rejection, you may submit after 12 moths a short application (step 1), which is a new or significantly improved proposal.
If your project is a “Go” after step 4 then… Congratulations! Your project was successful and will be recommended for funding. After a “Go” response is given, the applicant will be invited to negotiate and then sign an initial contract that will initially provide for the grant component, which will include a first pre-financing payment on the grant component. In parallel, if you requested an investment component, the EIC Fund will start the negotiation process to structure the investment agreement.
New platform… new challenges
Like anything new, there is always a learning curve and the EIC AI powered platform is no different. The main challenge for new participants is that the whole submission process is done through the EIC online platform and there are no downloadable templates where the applicant can use to help write the submission. Especially if the applicant is familiar with writing the proposal on a word doc, this can be confusing at times. For example, due to the automated nature of the submission portal, simple actions like checking boxes, dragging elements to their proper section (like attachments), and providing further comments in some sections can create automated actions in other sections like auto-filling content into a different section.
To avoid these issues, we recommend the following:
1. Read the EIC Guide for Applicants document: This document provides a helpful overview for the application process and content you should prepare. However, it is NOT a technical guide for navigating the online platform.
2. Use your application coach! When you clear step 1, you will have access to a professional “coach” to help advise you on your funding application. Definitely use this resource as they will provide helpful information about how to make your application a winning one.
3. Do seek outside consultation if you need extra support: It cannot be stated enough that the online platform and application process can be confusing at times. Especially as it is a new platform, glitches do happen and can make the application process stressful and confusing. As such, it might be necessary to seek the support of a consultant who has experience using the platform. Further, European funding programmes often use their own “jargon” and logic for applications which can be difficult to understand if you are not experienced with EU funding programmes. In this case, you should seek expert support if you are not sure about how to submit your application or you don’t understand what the EIC expert jurors are looking for.
To the last point, the Baltic Innovation Agency has years of experience applying to EU funding programmes for our own projects and helping SMEs, entrepreneurs, and innovators apply for grants and EU funding. We have also help SMEs submit proposals through the new EIC accelerator portal. If you need help applying for funding or are seeking professional advice on how to apply for EU grants and other funds, our team at the Baltic Innovation Agency has years of professional experience and can help you find a path to fund your innovative ideas!