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Updates To The EIC Accelerator Under Horizon Europe

The EIC Accelerator under the new Horizon Europe contains some key changes compared to Horizon 2020 before it.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


5 minute read

Same aims, different process

The year 2021 brings with it the launch of Horizon 2020’s successor Horizon Europe. However, although the two programmes are similar in nature, the European Commission has publicised some notable changes. A prominent one concerns its flagship programme for SMEs: the EIC Accelerator.

What exactly is the EIC Accelerator?

Like Horizon 2020, the EIC Accelerator is a funding instrument for start-ups and SMEs looking to develop breakthrough innovation projects with substantial potential to grow. These projects must bring radical changes to the market, along with substantial monetary and reputational risk.

The funding is offered in competition format, with ‘winners’ offered funding and support totalling up to €15 million in equity investment and €2.5 million in grants.

The EIC Accelerator is generous indeed but the competition is exceptionally fierce. In fact, only around 3% of eligible applications are successful each time. An average of 30 to 40 companies per call will be granted the funding, with four calls for projects per year.

Horizon Europe is set to fund thousands of research and innovation projects every year up to 2027. The focus will be on important areas such as health, transport, energy, humanities, climate change, agriculture, sustainability and more. It’s about encouraging cutting edge, innovative solutions to problems affecting society by launching new products and services to the market.

Across the next 7 years under Horizon Europe, the EIC is expected to dish out around €10 billion in funding, with much of it allocated to the EIC Accelerator programme.

More information can be found on the EIC Accelerator page of the European Commission website.

Changes under Horizon Europe

The European Commission has now proposed a number of changes to the pilot funding scheme that formed part of Horizon 2020. These include:

Limiting the number of resubmissions and improving support for SMEs

Under Horizon 2020 it was considered that the number of times an organisation could resubmit an application for funding was too high. The EIC is therefore setting up a 12-month latency period after the submission of two consecutive applications to the EIC Accelerator. Coaching services will also be made available to help SMEs achieve the right type of funding and improve the follow-up of any proposals submitted.

This is where the services of R&D grant funding experts like us at Myriad Associates can also prove essential. We have helped large numbers of organisations achieve the EU funding they need, by matching them to competitions as they arise. We also work with applicants to put together a high quality proposal that stands out from the crowd. Find out more on our R&D Grants page.

A new 4-step project selection process

This is touted as a more simplified way of evaluating each proposal. Rather than allocating scores, the new selection process takes more of a “go/no go” approach made up for four stages:

1st step: Initial 5-page proposal, pitch deck and a video

2nd step: Coaching by the EC, plus a detailed 30-page proposal

3rd step: Remote evaluation (this is carried out by two expert evaluators and there are four cut-off dates per year)

4th step: Oral interview with a jury (this consists of a 10-minute presentation followed by 30 minutes of questions)

More support for projects that address European priorities

The EIC Accelerator has always been about funding the deployment of innovative products or services developed by SMEs in all sectors. However, moving forward the EIC is set to strengthen its support for priority topics across Europe. These “EIC Accelerator Challenges” projects as they’re to be known will particularly support innovations in the fields of health, digital technologies and the EU Green Deal.

Each of the changes are expected to make the application process for EIC Accelerator funding much more fluid and dynamic. It’s also hoped they will improve the quality of proposals being submitted, and how they are evaluated.

My company is in the midst of a project that was awarded Horizon 2020 funding. What do I need to know?

If a project has already received Horizon 2020 funding, then that funding still stands for the entire lifetime of the project. This means that projects continuing into 2021 are unaffected.

Payment arrangements also remain unchanged, and organisations already having undertaken projects can still:

  • Benefit from non-grant EU finance that was approved prior to the 1st February 2020 - from the European Commission, European Investment Fund (EIF) or EIB for example
  • Receive any remaining MSCA, ERC or EIC Accelerator funding they’ve been awarded

Horizon 2020 projects that are still ongoing must still adhere to their original grant terms.

Can EU grant funding and R&D Tax Credits go together?

They can - but how this is achieved is complex and requires careful planning. Indeed, having the Myriad Associates team on board from the start will put you in the best position later.

Innovative businesses that are looking to scale up need all the money they can get to push their projects forward. Combining the lucrative R&D Tax Credits scheme together with one or more EU grants is the ideal way to maximise your gains. Get in touch with our team to discuss your unique circumstances and plans for growth today.

Cut-off dates for 2021

The first EIC Accelerator call under Horizon Europe is expected to open during the first six months of 2021. The initial deadline for the full application stage is set for the 9th June 2021, with the second deadline being the 6th October. More information will be made available on the European Commission website in due course.

Contact the R&D tax and funding experts at Myriad Associates

This is an intricate topic and we strongly recommend seeking expert advice early.

Myriad Associates is a Dublin-based firm of R&D tax and funding specialists working remotely with companies up and down Ireland and the UK. Our years of experience perfectly places us to advise you of your R&D funding options, as well as how to apply and also maximise your award.

To discuss anything raised in this article, please do call us on +353 1 566 2001 or use our contact page.

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