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 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.
This instrument, just like the Accelerator Open, supports SMEs (mainly start-ups, spin-outs and scaling-ups) with innovative ideas that can have a major impact on EU objectives. In 2023, these objectives include REPowerEU, food safety, industrial technology roadmaps, the Health Emergency Response Authority (HERA) and some Horizon Europe missions. Specifically, the challenges are as follows:
Challenge 1: Novel biomarker-based assays to guide personalised cancer treatment:
- The overall objective of this Challenge is to support and accelerate preclinical validation and/or Phase 1 clinical work carried out by innovative SMEs (including start-ups & spin-offs) and small midcaps to develop novel predictive, prognostic and companion diagnostic assays to support cancer treatment. Specifically, the following specific objectives should be addressed:
- Develop novel companion diagnostic assays, including fluid profiling, to determine which of the cancer patients are more likely to benefit from a particular treatment;
- Develop novel predictive assays based on biomarkers to determine which patients with potentially precancerous lesions are more likely to develop cancer;
- Develop novel prognostic assays, including liquid profiling, to determine which cancer patients who have undergone treatment are more likely to relapse;
- Develop novel biomarker-based assays to effectively monitor clinical disease progression.
Estimated budget for this Challenge: 65 million euros.
Challenge 2: Aerosol and surface decontamination for pandemic management
Applications should aim to develop and commercialise technological solutions that facilitate social interaction in the context of pandemics, using one or more of the following three approaches:
- Full-scale systems for high-efficiency aerosol capture, pathogen deactivation and airflow control in confined environments (e.g. offices, aircraft boarding, retail shops, etc.), including advanced air filtration architectures and dynamic airflow optimisation.
- Next-generation face mask technologies with smart filter materials that outperform the N95 with low drag and provide improved retention/rejection of submicron particles.
- Rapid surface decontamination devices that go beyond state-of-the-art UV-C irradiation systems and biocide agent dispersion.
- Applications should provide initial evidence that social dissociation can be avoided or significantly reduced with the targeted technologies under realistic assumptions about pathogen infectivity.
Estimated budget for this Challenge: 65 million euros.
Challenge 3: Energy Storage
This Challenge targets breakthrough innovations in all technology areas that have a high potential to achieve the following goals:
- Storage of electrical and/or thermal energy at low cost, with high density, high charge/discharge efficiency and improved durability.
- Develop technological concepts (chemical, electrical, electrochemical, mechanical, thermal) for energy storage at different scales (centralised in large industrial plants or decentralised and small scale - mobile electronics), for different time periods (short term - millisecond to day, medium term - days to month and long term - months to seasons) and uses (from stationary to mobile).
- Develop technologies that minimise their carbon footprint without using critical raw materials or maximising their recycling/reuse, as measured by life cycle analysis (including assessment of costs and social impacts). The integration of technologies into products and services should take into account the circular and life-cycle thinking approach and support the transition to a circular economy.
The proposed technologies could also address smart operation and control of renewable energy storage facilities and novel business models (e.g. storage as a service) to increase the flexibility of energy systems and facilitate the integration of energy storage.
Indicative budget for this Challenge: 100 million euros.
Challenge 4: New European Bauhaus and Architecture, Engineering and Construction digitalisation for decarbonisation
The overarching goal of this Challenge is to develop transformative digital products or digitally-enabled solutions for the AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) sector that can help achieve carbon neutrality while meeting or contributing to the human-centred quality principles proposed by the New European Bauhaus.
Support will be given to innovative start-ups and SMEs that develop digital or digitally-enabled design and manufacturing products that aim to reduce or eliminate CO2 emissions from buildings by enabling the use of fewer materials and/or alternative materials. In addition, the Depp-Tech start-ups are expected to build the AEC value chain of the future. In particular, innovative solutions will be promoted in the areas of computational design, digital fabrication and alternative materials.
The estimated budget for this Challenge is 65 million euros.
Challenge 5: Fault-tolerant quantum computers hardware and real environment quantum sensors
The aim of this Challenge is to support breakthrough innovations that have a high development potential in the following areas:
- Fault-tolerant quantum computer(s) with:
- improved performance;
- significantly simplified integration of QPUs (Quantum Processing Units) with control electronics;
- Scalable control systems (scalable to tens of thousands of qubits required for meaningful practical applications);
- Quantum sensors for use in real/rough environments for various application areas such as ecotoxicology, pharmaceuticals, biomedicine, space, corrosion detection in power plants, gas-oil tanks, raw material detection, medical imaging, automotive and many more.
This challenge is designed to help the EU take a leading role in the development of state-of-the-art quantum computers and quantum sensors that can be put into practice and used in various fields such as medical technology, pharmaceuticals, materials science, defence, space, and so on. In the medium and long term, this Challenge is expected to expand Europe's quantum capabilities and underpin its economic resilience and digital sovereignty.
This Challenge contributes to the objectives of the European Chips Act.
Indicative budget for this Challenge: 50 million euros.
Challenge 6: Semiconductor chips design
The objective of this Challenge is to support the design and development of innovative semiconductor components and intellectual property for analogue and digital integrated circuits and systems, including memory, logic, optical components and sensors. Relevant technology areas are: Artificial Intelligence, Edge Computing, Internet of Things, Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, 5G/6G Communications, Cybersecurity, Health and Wellness, Environmental Sustainability. The area also includes innovative design approaches that address the combination of different functions such as data processing, RF, energy, storage and sensing.
The submitted proposal should demonstrate breakthrough innovations in the respective application areas and a high potential for commercial deployment in key EU industries such as automotive, information and communication, healthcare, aerospace, security and energy.
Indicative budget for this Challenge: €50 million.
Challenge 7: Novel technologies for resilient agriculture
In support of the EU Soil Mission and the Green Deal, Farm to Fork, Fit for 55 and REPowerEU policies, the main objective of this Challenge is to develop solutions that contribute to the development of an agricultural and food production system that is resilient to environmental and social disturbances. To make progress in this area, a new generation of technologies, equipment and materials is required, based on the principles of regenerative agriculture and supported by Industry 4.0 technologies, in addition to being in line with Industry 5.0 principles.
The specific objectives of this Challenge are:
- Develop and scale interdisciplinary solutions for regenerative agriculture and soil health in the areas of fertilisation, crop protection, irrigation, soil and crop management;
- New practices, materials, equipment, plants and microorganisms adapted to harsh environments, climate adaptation needs and resource scarcity, including crop diversification, mixed cropping systems, seasonal cropping and technologies to better adapt crops to climate change.
Indicative budget for this Challenge: 65 million euros.
Challenge 8: Customer-driven, innovative space technologies and services
This Challenge aims to ensure that Europe is able to maintain and protect its own space infrastructure without risking losing its strategic autonomy, and to improve the competitiveness of its space industry by fostering the emergence of innovative, interoperable, scalable and autonomous "customer-driven" innovative space technologies and services.
In terms of technological developments, the specific objectives of this Challenge are as follows:
- Provide in-orbit spacecraft inspection means to improve satellite capabilities and resilience;
- Develop capabilities for autonomous collision avoidance in space, e.g. use of artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) for collision avoidance manoeuvres, space debris position data and development of propulsion capabilities for mobility in space;
- Further development of self-assembly of spacecraft in orbit for various applications (e.g. orbital, cis-lunar exploration, Earth observation, space debris inspection, space situational awareness, etc.);
- Collection of space debris with a view to recycling, recovery and conversion (e.g. microgravity platforms);
- Design and construction of an unmanned low Earth orbit R&I platform to be assembled in orbit and to host microgravity experiments or space debris collection/recycling, using a sustainable modular concept for the platform and its operation;
- Develop innovative technologies for Earth observation, navigation, satellite communications (SATCOM), space exploration, space situational awareness (SSA) and logistics in space.
The Challenge aims to further develop in particular the following aspects:
- a European maintenance and reuse/recycling capability for the maintenance of European space infrastructure, contributing at the same time to the management and reduction of space debris;
- timely and cost-effective space traffic management services for the timely execution of collision avoidance manoeuvres;
- the reuse, refurbishment or recycling of spacecraft components or launch vehicle upper stages;
- Scientific and technological solutions for orbital services and the reuse/refurbishment and recycling of old spacecraft (e.g. satellites, rocket upper stages or critical raw materials, etc.);
- Innovative propulsion solutions for spacecraft mobility in space;
- Innovative technologies for space transportation, Earth observation, navigation, satellite communications, space exploration and space situational awareness.
Estimated budget for this Challenge: 65 million euros.
The same conditions of participation apply as for the EIC Accelerator Open.
- 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:
- creation of prototypes,
- pilot activities,
- 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 2023 is as follows:
- EIC Accelerator Total: €1.14 billion
- EIC Accelerator Open: 612.98 million euros
- EIC Accelerator Challenges: 524.73 million euros
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.
Stage 1: Short application
- Questionnaire on an artificial intelligence-based IT platform (up to 10 pages)
- Motivational video (up to 3 minutes)
- "Pitch Deck" (10 pages)
Feedback after approx. 4 weeks.
The evaluation will be carried out by 4 assessors. To be admitted to the Full Application, at least 2 assessors must give a GO (50%).
Stage 2: Full Application
- Up to 75 pages in English excluding annexes (predefined template). The application is prepared using an IT platform based on artificial intelligence.
- Design of the application template as a business plan.
- Main criteria: Excellence, Impact, Implementation (1/3 each).
- Submission on specific deadlines (see below).
Feedback after approx. 3-4 weeks.
Evaluation takes place by 3 assessors. To be admitted to the interview, all 3 assessors must give a GO (100%).
Stage 3: Pitch
- Face-to-face interview in Brussels in front of expert panel: Only for applications placed above the threshold.
- Includes: 10 minutes pitch presentation by the applicants and a 20-30 minute Q&A session afterwards.
Short applications can be submitted to the EIC Accelerator on an ongoing basis. There will be four deadlines for full proposals in 2023:
- 11 January (EIC Accelerator Open only).
- 22 March
- 7 June
- 4 October
Scheduled interview week for 2023:
- Deadline 11 January: March 2023
- Deadline 22 March: May 2023
- Deadline 7 June: July-August 2023
- Deadline 4 October: End of November 2023