The European Commission launched the European Innovation Council (EIC) with a budget of over €10 billion (in current prices) for 2021-2027 to develop and expand breakthrough innovations on 18 March 2021. Building on a successful pilot programme under Horizon 2020, the new EIC is not only a novelty of Horizon Europe, but it is also unique in the world: it combines research on emerging technologies with an accelerator programme and a dedicated equity fund, the European Innovation Council Fund, to scale up innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Around €3 billion of the EIC's budget will go towards the EIC Fund.
Furthermore, the first annual work programme of the EIC is published, opening funding opportunities worth over €1.5 billion in 2021. At the same time, two prizes for Women Innovators and the European Capital of Innovation are opened for applications.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The European Innovation Council is Europe's most ambitious initiative to support the breakthroughs Europe needs to recover from the economic crisis and accelerate the transition to a green and digital economy. By investing in visionary research and innovative companies, it will reinforce European technological sovereignty, scale up hundreds of Europe's most promising start-ups, and pave the way for the upcoming European Innovation Area.”
The European Innovation Council capitalises on lessons learnt and achievements from its pilot phase during the period 2018-2021. It supported over 5000 SMEs and start-ups, as well as over 330 research projects with a budget of €3.5 billion.
Key novelties of the European Innovation Council
The European Innovation Council (EIC) has several features that make it unique in its way of supporting pioneering ventures and projects.
The EIC Accelerator supports SMEs, in particular start-ups and spinout companies to develop and scale up game-changing innovations. The EIC Accelerator features a new innovator friendly application system, where start-ups and SMEs can apply for funding at any time via a simplified process.
A team of EIC Programme Managers will be responsible for developing visions for technological and innovation breakthroughs (such as cell and gene therapy, green hydrogen, and tools to treat brain disease), managing portfolios of EIC projects and bringing together stakeholders to put these visions into reality.
A new EIC Transition funding scheme will help convert research results (from the EIC Pathfinder and the European Research Council) into innovations (spinouts, commercial partnerships, etc.).
New measures are introduced to support women innovators, which include a female leadership programme. In partnership with the Enterprise Europe Network, talented female innovators, as well as all innovative SMEs from lesser-known regions, will be supported to apply, helping to overcome the innovation divide.
Composed of leading innovators, the EIC Advisory Board delivers the strategy of the European Innovation Council and provides advice on its implementation (see today's statement of the EIC Advisory Board).
Source: European Commission Press Corner