The newly-adopted 2024 work programme of the European Innovation Council (EIC) is opening over €1.2bn in funding opportunities, mainly targeting deep tech startups and SMEs.
Under the new scheme, the EIC Fund will receive a capital injection of €585mn to invest in EIC selected companies, leveraging over €2 billion in new investments.
The majority of the funding addresses all fields of technology, but €420mn is dedicated to startups and SMEs developing tech for strategic industries, including Generative AI, space, critical raw materials, semiconductors, and quantum. This is in line the bloc’s initiatives such as the Chips Act, the Net Zero Industry Act, and the AI Act.
Specifically, EIC’s work programme for next year is split into three funding domains:
- EIC Pathfinder: €256mn for research with the potential to lead to technological breakthroughs — with grants up to €4mn.
- EIC Transition: €94mn to turn research from lab to fab, following the results from Pathfinder, the European Research Council Proof of Concept projects, and Horizon Europe. Here, grants go up to €2.5mn.
- EIC Accelerator: €675mn for startups and SMEs to develop and scale innovations that can create new markets or disrupt existing ones — with grands no higher than €2.5mn. Out of the total amount, €405mn of investments will be managed by the EIC Fund, which will receive an extra €180 to complete investments in companies selected in previous Accelerator calls.
The new work programme also comes with a series of makeovers, which will — hopefully — address the issues plaguing EIC since its launch in 2021: from funding difficulties and delays to tensions with the Commission and even the abrupt shutdown of the Accelerator submissions portal in July.
“We are committed to making Europe the most attractive place to develop technologies and grow deep tech companies,” said Commissioner Iliana Ivanova. “The new EIC work programme with €1.2 billion for 2024 and improved rules, as well as the restructured EIC Fund, are designed to do just that.”
Despite the hurdles, EIC’s support has so far yielded a number of impressive results. Its portfolio comprises 500 of Europe’s most promising startups and high growth companies and counts 12 unicorns and 112 centaurs.