Since the deadline in October 2019, the SME instrument has become the EIC Accelerator Pilot - a pilot programme for the official EIC Accelerator, which is to replace the SME instrument from 2021 onwards in the Horizon Europe framework programme. After the deadline in May 2020, the EIC Pilot Avisory Board has now taken stock and developed recommendations that will help shape the programme. Reason enough to take a closer look at their report:
- For Horizon Europe (2021 - 2027), which contains a wide range of other funding programmes in addition to the EIC Accelerator, the Advisory Board recommends a larger budget with a minimum of €10 billion in funding
- An additional €30 to €50 billion is to be made available from investors under the equity option
- The EIC Accelerator will remain open to all topics, but with a focus on companies that contribute to more sustainability, especially in the areas of health, resilience, green and digital transformation, as well as GDP and jobs in Europe.
- The EIC Accelerator's portfolio of supported companies should include 90% companies that address the EU's sustainability goals (SDGs).
- 35% of the companies in the portfolio of the EIC should be managed by women in order to promote gender balance.
- The experts recommend a clear edge, especially with regard to the positioning of EIC funding: It should be clear what is being sought (deep-tech focus, high-impact/high-risk profile, etc.) and which investments are being made (early stage, seed, A-round, B-round).
- With this in mind, the Advisory Board also calls for a clear definition of the term "non-bankability", as this has so far been largely misunderstood as "non-investable".
- The value of the "Seal of Excellence" should be increased, especially in regions with underdeveloped innovation ecosystems, where projects with Seal of Excellence automatically receive funding at national level.
- According to the experts, an important point is the application process. It must become faster and easier - decisions must be made in weeks, not months. To achieve this, more agile and faster processes should be implemented: the processes should become more digital, receive simpler forms, but at the same time face-to-face interviews should be retained.
- For this purpose, a two-step application process is recommended, which should consist of a quick and easy first step and should only consist of a full proposal in the second step.
- Furthermore, resubmissions should be limited. Thus, the experts suggest a second chance if the application has significantly improved based on the feedback of the first try.
Business Acceleration Services
- The Business Acceleration Services are open to anyone who is being promoted or has received a Seal of Excellence, and offer companies training and matchmaking activities with investors, other participants and large corporates. These services should now be expanded and strengthened in theHorizon Europe.
- The aim is to make the EIC the innovation agency par excellence for early-stage, game-changing and deep-tech companies.
- The funding, which has so far been provided to the companies in fixed tranches, should be made more dynamic with options to change the direction of the project, increase or reduce the funding, or stop the project.
- Milestones and KPIs are also to be handled more flexibly, and formal reporting is to be improved through more frequent interaction and sharing of data in order to identify problems early
You want to read the full report? Then you can find the original here.