22 April 2024

The European Commission has adopted the work programme of the European Innovation Council (EIC) for 2024. This body will have €1.2 billion to be distributed through different calls for proposals. 

Most of the funding will go to SMEs and start-ups, with the aim of developing and scaling up their “deep tech” innovations in critical areas such as generative artificial intelligence, space, fundamental raw materials, semiconductors or quantum technologies. 

 EIC work programme 2024 

While the bulk of EIC funding covers all technology areas, the EIC work programme details funding in three main schemes: 

EIC Pathfinder 

Which will have €256 million to support multidisciplinary research teams to carry out visionary research with the potential to generate technological breakthroughs. This will be supported by grants of up to EUR 4 million. EIC Pathfinder Challenges is open for submission until 16th of October

The EIC Pathfinder program supports the early-stage development of future technologies at low Technology Readiness Levels 1-3, based on high-risk/high-gain science-towards-technology breakthrough research. To apply, the proposal must have a convincing long-term vision of a radically new technology. Thematic areas are: 

  • ”Solar-to-X” devices 
  • Towards cement and concrete as a carbon sink 
  • Nature inspired alternatives for food packaging and films 
  • Nanoelectronics for energy efficient smart edge devices 
  • Protecting EU space infrastructure 

The program, facilitates collaborative research. The proposals need to be submitted by a coordinator on behalf of a consortium, consisting of a minimum of three independent legal entities, each established in a different Member State or Associated Country. 

Eligible entities encompass universities, research organizations, SMEs, start-ups, industrial partners, and natural persons. The total budget of the call is €256.000.000 (€120.000.000 EIC Challenges) and cover 100% of the eligible costs, EU contribution of up to 4 million per Challenges Call. 

EIC Transition 

With €94 million, it aims to transform research results into research opportunities and to follow up on the results achieved by EIC Pathfinders projects and European Research Council proof-of-concept projects. In addition, for the first time, it will be open to collaborative projects resulting from Horizon Europe’s Pillar II on societal challenges. For EIC Transition, grants will be up to EUR 2.5 million. This call will be open until 18th of September

The EIC Transition funds innovation activities that go beyond the experimental proof of principle in the laboratory. It supports both the maturation and validation of novel technologies from the lab to the relevant application environments, as well as the development of a business case and business model towards the innovation’s future commercialization. 

A single legal entity and a consortium of 2 partners must include 2 countries, and 3–5 partners must involve at least 3 countries can apply for this call. With €94 million of budget and 100% of eligible cost. 

EIC Accelerator 

Which will have €675 million to help startups and SMEs develop and scale up innovations with the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing ones. In this case, grants will be less than €2.5 million and investments will range from €0.5 million to €15 million. This call will be open until 3rd of October

The EIC Accelerator supports companies (principally start-ups and SMEs) to scale up high impact innovations with the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing ones. It focuses in particular on innovations building on scientific discovery and where significant funding is needed over a long timeframe before returns can be generated. The EIC Accelerator is open to innovations in any field of technology or application. Proposals and characteristics: 

  • EIC Accelerator Open has no predefined thematic priorities and is open to proposals in any field of technology or application. 
  • EIC Accelerator Challenge identifies the following set of key strategic areas and corresponding specific objectives for which highly innovative start-ups and SMEs are invited to propose new   technologies,   pioneering solutions and   breakthrough innovations: identifies the following set of key strategic areas: 
    • Human Centric Generative AI made in Europe 
    • Virtual worlds and augmented interaction to support the realisation of Industry 5.0 
    • Enabling the smart edge and quantum technology components 
    • Food from precision fermentation and algae 
    • Monoclonal antibody-based therapeutics for new variants of emerging viruses 
    • Renewable energy sources and their whole value chain 

SME, Small mid-cap or legal entities intending to establish an SME or small mid-cap in an EU Member State or Associated Country by the time of signing the Accelerator contract, can apply to this call. The general annual budget for this call is 675 million. Applicants can apply for a Grant component (70% of eligible costs, maximum EUR 2.5 million) in a Lump Sum contribution and/or equity component (up to 15M). 

New and simpler 

The EIC work programme includes a number of simplifications and improvements: 

  • Financial reporting requirements for beneficiaries will be removed. 
  • Updating of specific rules on intellectual and industrial property to empower technology transfer offices 
  • Introduction of consensus meetings for EIC Accelerator applications, with the aim of improving the robustness of the evaluation process. 
  • Flexibility for the EIC Fund to increase or delay investments in selected companies. 
  • Opening of EIC Transition funding to monitor the results of Horizon collaborative projects, as well as the results of the Proof of Concept, Pathfinder, and Defence Fund projects. 

FI Group has 20 years of experience and wants to accompany you on the new NextGenerationEU path. Our experts are at your disposal to analyse how your project fits into the NextGenerationEU European recovery fund and to take the next steps together with you. Contact us. 

Teresa Marina 

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