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Boosting innovation: How the EIC Accelerator is empowering SMEs and start-ups

Updated: Feb 10

With innovation at the core of progress, the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator stands as a support mechanism for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups. With its focus on high-impact, innovative technologies, products, services, and business models, the EIC Accelerator is a platform for visionary ideas that could reshape markets in Europe and beyond.

Who can apply to the EIC Accelerator?

The EIC Accelerator is open to:

  • SMEs and small mid-caps (up to 499 employees) established within a EU Member State or an Associated Country.

  • Individual entrepreneurs or legal entities with plans to establish or invest in an SME or small mid-cap.

  • Entities from non-associated third countries intending to establish or relocate an SME to a Member State or an Associated Country.

Why should you apply to the EIC Accelerator?

If you're an innovator facing high risks that discourage private investors, the EIC Accelerator is your ally. It offers:

  • A unique blend of funding from EUR 0.5 to EUR 17.5 million.

  • Business acceleration services for holistic support.

  • A focus on deep tech (innovations based on scientific discovery or technological breakthroughs) and patient capital (funding that takes time to generate returns) to bridge the gap between development and market readiness.

What does the EIC Accelerator support?

The EIC Accelerator is committed to helping companies in the later stages of technology development, ensuring that their innovations are market-ready rather than just conceptual. This means your technology should be at least at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5, indicating a certain maturity and potential for impact.


How to apply?

The EIC Accelerator offers two primary pathways:

  • EIC Accelerator Open: For proposals in any field of technology without predefined thematic priorities. Open calls total available budget for 2024 is EUR 375 million.

  • EIC Accelerator Challenges: Focused on predefined areas of emerging and strategic technologies. Challenge calls available total budget for 2024 is EUR 300 million.  Stay tuned, we will soon publish a blog about the 2024 challenges of the EIC Accelerator.

What support will you receive?

Successful proposals receive funding and tailor-made access to business acceleration services. The funding rate is 70% of the total project cost. These services are designed to enhance your market presence and prepare you for future challenges. The EIC Accelerator provides three types of support:

  • Grant only: A lump sum contribution for innovation activities.

  • Blended finance: A combination of direct equity or quasi-equity and a grant.

  • Equity-only support: For non-bankable SMEs including start-ups, particularly those already having received eligible grant support.

Application process and timeline

The process involves submitting a short proposal, followed by a full proposal if the initial submission is successful. This is accompanied by coaching support to refine your business plan. The final step is an interview with the EIC jury, after which funding decisions are made.

1. Preparation of the short proposal (Preparation time: 1 month)

  • Short proposal document: Prepare a concise proposal, 12 pages, outlining the core aspects of your innovation.

  • Slide deck: Create a slide deck of 10 slides, summarizing the key points of your project.

  • Video pitch: Develop a 3-minute video pitch, showcasing your team, your vision and the potential impact of your innovation.

2. Preparation of the full proposal (Preparation time: 2 months)

  • Full proposal document: Expand upon your initial ideas in a detailed full proposal and business plan, extending up to 50 pages.

  • Updated slide deck: Refine and update your initial slide deck to align with the expanded details of your full proposal.

  • Financial information: Provide financial details relevant to your project.

  • Revised video pitch: Update your 3-minute video pitch to reflect the more detailed aspects of your proposal.

3. Face-to-face interview with the EIC Jury (Preparation time: 2 weeks)

  • Pitch presentation: Deliver the refined pitch of your project, incorporating insights and details from your full proposal.

  • Q&A session: Engage in a question-and-answer session with the EIC jury, demonstrating your deep understanding of the project and its market potential.


Additional notes:

  • Coaching support: Throughout the application process, from the short proposal to the final interview, applicants have access to coaching support to refine their business plan and pitching skills.

  • Final decision: After the interview stage, the EIC jury deliberates and makes funding decisions based on the presentations and the potential of each innovation.

The EIC Accelerator is more than just a funding opportunity. It's a commitment to taking groundbreaking ideas and transforming them into market-leading innovations. With its complete support system, it's an ideal platform for SMEs and start-ups ready to make a significant impact in their respective fields.

At NETO Innovation, we understand the complexities and challenges involved in the process. That's why we're committed to supporting our partners at every stage of the EIC Accelerator process. From creating an effective short proposal to refining your full proposal, and from preparing for the critical jury interview to post-interview guidance, our team of experts at NETO Innovation is here to provide the support and expertise you need to succeed. Take advantage of our extensive experience in project management, grant writing, and innovation funding to enhance your application. NETO Innovation goes beyond just providing assistance; we help you realize your innovative vision as a partner.

Ready to embark on your EIC Accelerator journey? Contact NETO Innovation today, and let's turn your innovative ideas into reality!

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