The European Commission launched, at an online event, the European Innovation Council (EIC) with a budget of over €10 billion (in current prices) for 2021-2027 to develop and expand breakthrough innovations. 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.
Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for ‘A Europe Fit for the Digital Age', said: “We now have a fund to support small and medium sized companies that do breakthrough innovation, access equity and scale up innovative start-ups. This is a way to convert research results into business and to develop visions for technological and innovation breakthroughs.”
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.
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).
Funding opportunities in 2021
The funding opportunities announced today in the first work programme of the European Innovation Council include:
All projects of the European Innovation Council have access to Business Acceleration Services, which provide coaches, mentors and expertise, partnering opportunities with corporates, investors and others, and a range of services and events.
European Innovation Council prizes
Several prizes are integrated in the European Innovation Council to celebrate those shaping the future of innovation in Europe.
The EU Prize for Women Innovators and the European Capital of Innovation Awards are open for applications as of today, while the other two will open later this year.
The Commission launched in 2018 the European Innovation Council pilot under Horizon 2020 to support the most talented European innovators in the fast and effective scaling-up of breakthrough, disruptive innovation, with a budget of €3.5 billion. Further information on the European Innovation Council pilot can be found in the Impact Report.
Following today's launch, an applicants' day will take place on Friday 19 March to provide information on how the European Innovation Council works, how to apply, and who is eligible. Sessions will include information on funding opportunities for research teams, start-ups, SMEs and investors.
For More information
Factsheet: European Innovation Council in Horizon Europe