EIC Accelerator

The EIC Accelerator is the funding instrument for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) programme and consists of two variants: "Accelerator Open" (bottom-up) and "Accelerator Challenges" (top-down).

The EIC Accelerator Open

The EIC Accelerator Open funding programme is aimed exclusively at SMEs. It is open-topic (bottom-up) and supports SMEs with growth potential in developing concrete and high-risk innovations to market maturity. The funding rate is 70 % and applicants have the option of applying for equity capital in combination with grants. Funding ranges from 0.5 million euros to 2.5 million euros and equity can be up to 15 million euros.

The EIC Accelerator Challenges

Like the Accelerator Open, this instrument supports SMEs (especially start-ups, spin-outs and scaling-ups) with innovative ideas focused on the following topics:

  • Strategic Digital and Health Technologies: highly innovative and high-risk ideas that lead to new business models and smart products. The company should have the potential to become a world leader in the development of strategic technologies in the following areas:
    • Digital technologies: devices, methods, systems, and working principles, processes and standards applicable to the ICT industry, such as advanced high-performance computing, edge computing, quantum technology, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.
    • Healthcare technologies: e.g. AI-driven tools for early diagnosis, development of biomarkers for clinical prognosis, etc.
  • Green Deal Innovations for the Economic Recovery: innovations that make a significant contribution to sustainable development. In particular, solutions are expected in the following areas: renewable energies incl. hydrogen and energy storage systems, refurbishment of buildings, low-carbon industries and batteries.

The same conditions of participation apply as for the EIC Accelerator Open.

Conditions of participation

  • No thematic requirements. (EIC Accelerator Open only)
  • Individual funding for a single, for-profit SME only (as defined by the EU, see here for more information).
  • Profile of the applicant:
    • High growth and market potential;
    • High-risk idea, both in technology development and commercialisation;
    • Disruptive, breakthrough innovation;
    • European or internationally oriented business activity;
    • Multidisciplinary team;
  • Development stage: At least Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 and activities to reach TRL 6 must already be underway (demonstrator, beta versions or successful initial deployment tests of services).


  • Eligible activities: Innovation and final development activities, e.g. activities such as:
    • Demonstration,
    • tests,
    • creation of prototypes,
    • pilot activities,
    • scale-up,
    • miniaturisation or design through to
    • market implementation.
  • Goal: Market-ready product/process or market-ready service and optimised business plan.
  • Funding rate: 70 % of the eligible costs (additional 25 % as indirect costs).
  • Two funding models:
    • "Grant-only": grant-based funding between 0.5 and 2.5 million euros.
    • "Blended finance": In addition to the grant, equity capital of up to 15 million euros through EIC Fund.
  • Project duration: 12-24 months.
  • Business Acceleration Services (BAS): Beneficiaries receive free support measures divided into three groups:
    • Coaching, Mentoring, Training
    • Access to global partners
    • Access to innovation ecosystems and peers, e.g. through corporate days.


The budget for the EIC Accelerator for 2021 is as follows:

  • EIC Accelerator Open: 592.5 million euros
  • EIC Accelerator Challenges: 494.76 million euros

Equity capital

Financing of very close-to-market activities from TRL 9 (proof of successful use of the product or service) in order to rapidly and successfully commercialise the innovation and accelerate the growth of the SME.

Due Diligence: Careful examination and analysis of the SME, in particular with regard to its financial, economic, tax and legal circumstances by newly established EIC Fund (duration: approx. 6 months).

Crowding-in by EIC Fund: Search for co-investors to participate in financing round (final decision lies with the company).

An average participation of 0.5 - 5 million euros is expected.

Application process for the EIC Accelerator

Three-stage procedure:

Stage 1: Short application

  • Questionnaire (5 pages)
  • Video (3 minutes)
  • Pitch deck (10 pages)

Feedback after approx. 4 weeks

Stage 2: Full proposal

  • 30-page proposal in English excluding appendix (given template). The proposal is created using an IT platform based on artificial intelligence.
  • Conceptualisation of the application template as a business plan.
  • Main criteria: Excellence, Impact, Implementation (1/3 each).
  • Submission on specific deadlines.

Stage 3:

  • Personal interview in Brussels in front of expert panel: only for those applications placed above the threshold.


Short applications can be submitted to the EIC Accelerator on an ongoing basis. There will be two cut-off dates for full applications in 2021:

16 June 2021 and 6 October 2021.

More about the EIC Accelerator on the web:

Official European Comission website
EIC Data Hub
EU Funding & Tenders Portal
EU Funding & Tenders Portal Manual
Guide for applicants

Do you have an idea for an EIC Accelerator project? Contact BayFOR's SME Advisory Service now:

Dipl.-Jur. Natalia García Mozo

Natalia García Mozo
Head of Unit SME Advisory Services
Phone: +49 89 9901888-171
Email: mozo@no-spam-pleasebayfor.org

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