European Commission fast-tracks European Innovation Council setup with extra €2bn+ funding in 2019-20
- April 12, 2019
- Category: Technology, Investment and Finance, Europe
The European Commission has announced that it will fast forward the creation of a European Innovation Council with the announcement of a further €2 billion-plus of dedicated funding in 2019-2020.
In 2017 the Commission launched the pilot phase of the European Innovation Council, introducing open competitions and face-to-face interviews to identify and fund Europe’s most innovative start-ups and SMEs. Since then, 1276 highly innovative projects have already benefitted from an overall funding of over €730 million.
Currently in its pilot phase, the European Innovation Council will become a full-fledged reality from 2021 under the next EU research and innovation programme Horizon Europe.
The Commission is now ramping up the remaining two years of the pilot phase of the EIC with:
Over €2 billion of funding in 2019-2020: covering the innovation chain: “pathfinder” projects to support advanced technologies from the research base (opens tomorrow); and “accelerator” funding to support startups and SMEs develop and scale up innovations to the stage where they can attract private investment (open in June).
Under the “accelerator” funding companies will be able to access blended financing (grants and equity) of up to €15 million.
The Commission will appoint 15 to 20 innovation leaders to an EIC Advisory Board to oversee the EIC pilot, prepare the future EIC, and champion the EIC globally. Innovators from across the ecosystem are invited to come forward by 10 May.
The Commission will recruit a first set of “programme managers” with leading expertise in new technologies to provide full-time, hands-on support for projects. The call for recruitment will be published shortly.
The Commission has also announced 68 additional startups and SMEs selected for an overall funding of €120 million under the existing EIC pilot. The companies are for instance developing a blockchain-based online payment technology, new energy efficient screens and a solution to fight traffic noise (breakdown of beneficiaries per country and sector).
Given the growing economic importance of breakthrough and disruptive innovation, and based on the early success of the EIC pilot, the Commission has proposed to dedicate €10 billion to the EIC under Horizon Europe, the EU research and innovation funding programme for 2021-2027.
According to the Commission, global competition is intensifying and Europe needs to deepen its innovation and risk-taking capability to compete on a market increasingly defined by new technologies. The European Innovation Council (EIC) is intended to turn Europe’s scientific discoveries into businesses that can scale up faster.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation commented:
“With the European Innovation Council, we don’t simply put money on the table. We create a whole innovation system to place Europe at the forefront in strategic technologies and innovation that will shape our futures such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology and zero-emission energy. We must focus on the needs of the innovators, who are the ones who will generate jobs, strengthen our global competitiveness and improve our daily lives.”
In June 2018, the Commission proposed the most ambitious Research and Innovation programme yet, Horizon Europe, with a proposed budget of €100 billion for 2021-2027.
The European Innovation Council is part of a wider ecosystem that the EU is putting in place to give Europe’s many entrepreneurs every opportunity to become world leading companies. Other initiatives include a Pan-European Venture Capital Funds-of-Funds programme (VentureEU), the Investment Plan for Europe (EFSI), the work of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology, the Capital Markets Union Action Plan to improve access to finance or the proposal for a Directive on business insolvency.