The European Commission has opened a €1bn startup accelerator programme with its first call for projects.
The call follows the official launch of the European Innovation Council (EIC) in March 2021 to help scale up start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses. The EIC has a a budget of over €10bn for 2021-2027.
€495m of the accelerator fund is earmarked for innovations that support the European Green Deal as well as digital and health technologies.
One of the early recipients of EIC backing was TiHive in France, which last year raised $10m equity backing from the pilot scheme, as well as French medtech company CorWave. That two year pilot scheme saw 293 companies backed with €563m in grants. 159 companies of those will also receive equity investments from the EIC fund.
“We now have a fund to support small and medium sized companies that do breakthrough innovation, access equity and scale up innovative start-ups. This is a way to convert research results into business and to develop visions for technological and innovation breakthroughs,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for ‘A Europe Fit for the Digital Age'.
The Accelerator scheme offers start-ups and SMEs grants of up to €2.5 million combined with equity investments through the EIC Fund ranging from €500,000 to €15m.
“The EIC Accelerator is a unique funding instrument of the EU. It supports the development of breakthrough innovations through crowding-in private investors and offering support services to scale up. It will lead Europe at the forefront of innovation and new technologies, and help us tackle the health, environmental and societal challenges we are facing,” said Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.
The EIC Accelerator focuses on scientific discoveries or technological breakthroughs, which need significant funding over a longer timeframe before returns can be generated. Such innovations often struggle to attract financing because the risks and time involved are generally too high. This funding enables the innovators to attract the full