European Innovation Council: €20 million support for Ukrainian start-ups

The European Commission has launched an ambitious €20 million action to support the Ukrainian innovation community. Through a targeted amendment of the 2022 European Innovation Council (EIC) work programme, the new initiative will support at least 200 Ukrainian deep tech start-ups with up to €60,000 each. In addition, the EIC will offer non-financial support, such as business advisory services and matchmaking. This will enhance the capacity of Ukrainian innovators to interact with the European innovation ecosystem, enter new markets and benefit from the European financing instruments.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “While fighting Russian military aggression it is vital for Ukraine to look forward. The country has a vivid start-up scene and great potential for innovative businesses. It is very important to preserve this economic capacity and enable Ukrainian tech innovators to grow and integrate further into the European innovation ecosystem. We want them to expand their operations to the European markets and beyond.”

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, said: “We aim to mobilise all possible resources and provide support to Ukraine. Today, we are calling on the European innovation actors such as start-up associations, enterprise support centres, incubators and accelerators to join us in supporting the Ukrainian deep tech community to make it stronger, more resilient and competitive.”

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said: “Prior to Russia’s invasion, Ukraine had a vibrant tech start-up scene, with over 1600 start-ups. This new action aims to safeguard this progress, reinforce links to the European innovation ecosystem, and ensure Ukrainian start-ups are well placed to become a critical driver for rebuilding the Ukrainian economy.”

The €20 million support will be disbursed through a competitive call for proposals for a pan-European network of start-up associations, supporting Ukrainian innovation stakeholders. Synergies with relevant EU initiatives, such as the Enterprise Europe Network will be ensured. With this call, opening on 23 June, the European Innovation Council (EIC) aspires to ensure the business continuity of the Ukrainian tech companies and foster their growth. The action can help prepare Ukrainian start-ups to compete for future EIC funding opportunities. The EIC can fund start-ups up to €17.5 million in grants and equity investment and can crowd-in further private investments up to three times the amount invested by public funds.

In addition, following Ukraine’s ratification, the agreement associating Ukraine to the Horizon Europe and Euratom Research and Training Programmes entered into force today. The agreement was signed on 12 October 2021 on the occasion of the EU-Ukraine Summit. Now European and Ukrainian researchers and innovators, universities, businesses, including small and medium-sized ones (SMEs), have all the opportunities to work together on equal terms to reach joint goals and address critical challenges. In view of the ongoing Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the EU’s commitment to offer tangible means of support to the Ukrainian research and innovation community, Ukraine will participate in Horizon Europe and Euratom Programmes without having to contribute financially for years 2021 and 2022. Its waived contribution was estimated at around €20 million.

This support is complementary to the ongoing ‘European Research Area for Ukraine’ (ERA4Ukraine), Horizon4Ukraine and ERC for Ukraine initiatives, as well as the dedicated fellowship scheme of €25 million under the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions (MSCA) for displaced researchers of Ukraine.

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