European Innovation Council signs 100th Accelerator grant agreement

The EIC Accelerator, with a unique offer of grants, blended finance and equity investments, has proven to be of high interest for start-ups and SMEs since its launch in March 2021. Due to the need of the restructuring of the EIC Fund under the provisions of the Horizon Europe legislation, the funding support to companies selected by the EIC Accelerator was experiencing delays. Nevertheless, the EIC is pleased to announce that it has signed the 100th Accelerator grant agreement since the first cut-off in June 2021.

The Commission and its EIC & SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) are making every effort to fast track the support to companies, to overcome the delays encountered, and to ensure that such delays will not occur in future. Thanks to those efforts, we have managed to improve significantly the time from selection until the signature of the contract.

EISMEA has now signed a large majority of grant-only or grant first contracts with companies selected under June and October 2021 cut-offs:

  • All the projects (59) with a grant component (i.e. grant-only, grant-first and blended finance projects) of June cut-off are signed and all pre-financing payments are made
  • All grant-only (6) and grant-first (23) projects selected under October 2021 cut-off are signed and 29 grants out of 61 blended finance projects.
  • First 2 contracts with a grant component of March 2022 cut-off are signed, including one with paid pre-financing. Other grants are in preparation. Companies receive the first payment within 10 days after the grant signature.

Regarding the investment support, following the first investment decision announced on 14 June, the due diligence conducted by the European Investment Bank in its role as investment advisers is progressing rapidly for companies selected in 2021. This will enable the independent Fund Manager, once appointed, to make the investment decisions. When the new EIC Fund arrangements are in place, the time for implementing the grants and investment support for companies selected by the EIC Accelerator will be progressively reduced in order to meet the needs of Europe’s fast-moving technology start-ups.

In the meantime, the EIC continues to look ahead to support its mission of backing Europe’s visionary entrepreneurs. We are preparing for our biggest yearly conference – the EIC Summit, gathering start-ups, researchers, investors, policy makers and corporates. We support EIC beneficiaries through the Business Acceleration Services and stand strong with Ukraine. The EIC appointed a new Ukraine-based ambassador and will soon select a pan-European network of start-up associations that will support at least 200 Ukrainian deep tech start-ups with up to €60,000.

Detailed implementation of the EIC Accelerator (state of play 8 September 2022)

EIC Fund:

The appointment of an external EIC Fund Manager is ongoing. With the due diligence for equity investments and other preparatory work that has already started for many cases, we expect quick progress with the current backlog of investment after the appointment of the external Fund Manager.

EIC Accelerator:

For June 2021 cut-off, 63 companies were selected for funding following the evaluation of the full applications:

  • All 59 projects with a grant component (i.e. grant-only, grant-first and blended finance) are signed; all pre-financing payments have been made.
  • 30 companies requested blended finance, including a grant component and equity investment. All contracts for grant component have been signed. For the equity investment component of these 30 companies, and the 4 companies selected for equity-only, the signature of most of the investment agreements will take place until the end of the year.

In October 2021 cut-off, the EIC selected 99 companies. Five grant-only projects with United Kingdom beneficiaries have been rejected as Horizon Europe association agreement have not been signed.

  • 29 companies have requested grant-only or grant-first support. All the contracts are now signed and the companies received the pre-financing.
  • 29 of the 61 companies selected for blended finance signed their grant component contracts.  1 investment decision has been taken.

In March 2022 cut-off, 74 companies were selected for funding following the evaluation of their full applications. Kick off meetings have taken place and negotiations are on track.

  • 36 companies requested grant only or grant first options. 38 requested blended finance and equity only. In most cases, the companies will receive the grant financing within 5-8 months, while the finalisation of most of the equity investment is expected from autumn until early 2024.
  • First two contracts with a grant component are signed.

In June 2022 cut-off, 986 companies have submitted full applications. The final stage of the evaluation, interviews with a jury, is taking place right now and the EIC will the results in October.

Background information

Since its launch in April 2021, the EIC Accelerator has received over 7200 short applications (assessed on a continuous basis) and nearly 4000 full applications submitted to regular cut-offs (805 to the June 2021 cut-off, 1098 to the October 2021 cut-off, 1091 to the March 2022 cut-off and 986 to the June 2022 cut-off). The next cut-off for full applications is 5 October 2022.

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