Impact Report 2021: The European Innovation Council (EIC) in figures

[Translate to Englisch:] EIC Impact Report

The European Innovation Council (EIC) was launched in March 2021 under Horizon Europe, the EU's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2021-2027), as the main funding programme for the European innovation landscape. Given the increasing economic importance of disruptive and disruptive innovation, and building on the early success of the EIC pilot, the European Commission has allocated around €10 billion to the EIC over the next 7 years.

In the future, this sum will be used to cover the entire innovation chain, from early stage research to scale-up, thus unleashing the potential of unique start-ups and SMEs within Europe and making them international market leaders.

The innovation chain consists of three funding instruments:

  • EIC Pathfinder: this funds radically new technologies that have the potential to create new markets at an early stage of development.
  • EIC Transition: Here, promising results from the EIC Pathfinder and the "Proof of Concept" of the European Research Council (ERC) are further developed.
  • EIC Accelerator: This is aimed exclusively at start-ups and SMEs and aims to commercialise highly innovative, high-risk and visionary ideas with great market potential.

These three instruments reflect the EIC as a new major player in the European innovation landscape until 2027. However, the EIC's pilot phase from 2014 to 2020 should not be ignored either, as this successful period is the basic building block for the newly launched EIC.

The first concrete results of its implementation are published in the Impact Report 2021, which reflects the "key numbers from the EIC performance". As the year draws to a close, we would like to share with you the EIC's key figures and statistics:

Since 2014 to 2020, the EIC and all its follow-on instruments have supported a total of around 5,500 start-ups and SMEs with €3.8 billion, driving the development of breakthrough innovations and technologies. This has resulted in €9.6 billion in follow-on investments (mainly through venture capital, but also through national development banks) being raised by the companies, which together have reached a company valuation of around €50 billion.

Particularly inspiring is the fact that 91 "Centaurs" (valuation of more than 100 million euros) and a whole two "Unicorns" (valuation of more than 1 billion euros) have emerged from the EIC's support. It is also great to see that there are more and more women-led start-ups: of those funded in 2020, over 20% have a female CEO, a doubling of previous levels.

The EIC Fund

The report also shows that the "EIC Fund" introduced in 2020 has its raison d'être. In the first six months of 2021, it made investment decisions for 137 innovative companies worth €600 million. In addition, the first 24 direct equity investments of the "EIC Fund" resulted in co-investments of 396 million euros from venture capital, among others.

The EIC Pathfinder

The EIC Pathfinder and its ambition to be the foundation for future breakthrough innovations is also a success story in itself. Since 2014, this has supported 400 transnational research groups, consisting of over 300 different partners, to develop new unique technologies. In total, this has produced over 800 innovations, 58 patents and 1,842 significant scientific publications. With €100 million in 2021, the EIC Transition then ensured that the results from the EIC Pathfinder were further developed.

Thematically, the area of "Digital and Industry 5.0" was particularly interesting for EIC Pathfinder projects. For example, 150 projects from the area of "Photonics, Lighting, Sensors, Optical Devices and Magnets" and another 23 projects from the area of "Quantum Computing" were supported here. But the "Health" sector was also well represented with 27 projects from the field of microbiology, among others. With a remarkable 412 active participations in EIC Pathfinder projects, Germany was able to present itself as a country of new disruptive technologies.

The EIC Accelerator

Of course, special attention is also paid to what is probably one of the most attractive and exciting funding instruments of the EIC - the Accelerator. This is aimed exclusively at SMEs and start-ups. The performance report shows that the EIC Accelerator mainly supports younger (up to 5 years) and smaller (mostly less than 50 employees) companies. It is also clear that good growth potential is seen as a basic requirement.

Through the distribution of funded projects under the Accelerator, one can see that it is at the pointer of time and tries to master the omnipresent challenges with the funding. Since 2020, 90.5% of the companies found in the Accelerator's portfolio have developed innovative solutions that pursue at least one Sustainable Development Goal. The 218 start-ups that received EIC funding in 2020 also include 72 companies developing disruptive responses to the COVID 19 pandemic and 64 companies developing green, and 40 companies developing new digital technologies.

With 101 projects under the EIC Accelerator, the theme "AI, Cloud and Big Data" was also very popular among applicants. But "Patient Care and Telemedicine" was also very well represented with 58 projects. In Germany, a total of 385 companies have received funding in recent years. Of these, 11 companies successfully applied for the investment component through the "EIC Fund".

However, the EIC's success would not be possible without the EIC community. The performance report underlines this with impressive figures: For example, around 12,700 community members organise up to 40 networking events every year and give up to 1,250 funded start-ups the opportunity to present themselves at pitch events, talking to over 2,800 different companies and investors about possible collaborations.

As an SME consultancy, we would like to encourage you to participate in the EIC and approach us for detailed advice. The complete report, with further and more detailed figures on the EIC, can be found under this link.

Dipl.-Jur. Natalia García Mozo

Natalia García Mozo
Head of Unit SME Advisory Services
Phone: +49 89 9901888-171

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