After completing its transition from the pilot phase to a fully-fledged programme in 2021 under Horizon Europe, the EIC Accelerator closed its second 2022 cut-off in June with a reported significantly high demand. The number of applications received during this last submission window is in line with the trend that has seen an average of 1,000 applications for each round of Accelerator funding so far. The high interest for startup and SMEs comes from the unique offer of grants, blended finance and equity investments, which have now reached an allocated combined amount of almost €1,400M of funding to boost European innovation.
For those closely following the developments and implementation of the programme, you will find here a recap of the most important updates from the past month that you can’t miss.
Results from 23 March 2022 cut-off
The European Innovation Council has recently released the final results of the EIC Accelerator March full application cut-off, and it is time to put the data into perspective. Out of the 1093 submitted proposals, the EIC only awarded 74, allocating a budget of €382 million. With regards to the distribution of grants by financing type, blended-finance remains the most common option covering about 51,4% of funding, followed by grant first (32,4%) and grant only (16,2%).
The awarded proposals have been submitted by 18 countries: Germany and France are on the lead with 15 and 12 successful applications respectively, followed by Finland (6), the Netherlands (5) and the United Kingdom (5). The 20% of the selected proposals come from widening countries: Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria, and Estonia.
When looking at the successful company profile, the overwhelming majority has been founded less than 10 years ago with 65% being between 5-10 years. 73% of the funded companies are generating revenue. With regards to the amount of funding raised prior to the EIC win, 85% of winners had raised over 1M, in particular 61% had already raised 1-10M, and 21% between 10-50M.
Getting to the analysis of the awarded technology sector, 33% of companies belong to the healthcare industry, especially medtech. However, another significant majority of the March winner deals with greentech (18%). Among the winners we can also find two companies belonging to the space industry, both based in Germany. The awarded projects reflect the EIC priority to fund technologies that address the most urgent challenges: ‘Fit for 55’ and Technologies for the Open Strategic Autonomy.
First data from the 15 June 2022 cut-off
While the applications are under evaluation, the numbers from the June cut-off are now available. The EIC Accelerator received a total of 986 full applications, compared to the 1093 for the first 2022 cut-off in March, after the postponement of the January cut-off.
Blended finance - for a combination of grants with equity investments - remained the preferred funding option, with 74% of applications, chosen by 638 (65%) companies. Other 190 (19%) companies applied for grants first, with a possibility to add equity investments at a later stage. The less popular funding option was grants only, with 158 (16%) companies applying for it.
The applications came from 36 different countries, with the highest numbers from Germany (110), Israel (87), Italy (85) and Spain (81). The EIC highlighted the increasing amount of participation to the programme from widening countries, especially Poland (29). Nevertheless, the numbers are still low - less than 10 percent on average applied from a widening country.
Out of 986 submissions, 16.5% are women-led companies, which represent a special target.
The average success rate of the programme in 2021 was around 10%, and it reported a slight decrease to about 7% with the first March cut-off. It will be interesting to see how this trend evolves this year after the last 2022 cut-off on 5 October. The next step foresees successful companies to pitch in front of a jury of investors and business experts in September, while applicants can expect to receive the communication on the final selection in October.
Announcement of the first equity investment
After delays in the signature of grant and investment agreements for companies selected in 2021, on 14 June 2022, the EIC announced the unlocking of the first equity investment. The EIC also communicated that all due investments will most likely be implemented by the end of summer 2022.
Publication of the revised Strategic Goals and Key Performance Indicators
On 23 June, the EIC Board released the revised Strategic Goals and Key Performance Indicators, which have been extended for the period 2021-27. The publication responds to the need to accelerate the implementation of the EIC Accelerator funding. The document identifies six strategic goals and underpinning KPIs. They aim to set a clear direction and help to keep track of progress while guiding towards the next steps.
The Strategic Goals represent a de-facto pathway towards the evolution of European innovation, which is about sustainability, digitalisation and healthcare. As officially communicated by the EIC, <<The Key Performance Indicators set clear targets for the EIC’s ambitions as investor of choice, crowding in investment, pulling through high-risk investment, increasing European scale-ups, catalysing innovation impacts and in terms of operational excellence.>>
The Strategic Goals identify the following priorities:
- The EIC remarks its intention to be the ‘investors of choice’ for innovators, with special regards to under-represented groups such as women and less developed ecosystems.
- To allocate €30-50 billion investment into European deep-tech.
- Intention to intensify support for high risk technologies in crucial areas for society and strategic autonomy, by taking risks and promoting the most ambitious and promising deep tech opportunities.
- To increase the number of European unicorns and scale ups, to bridge the gap between Europe and US or Asia.
- To push innovation impacts from European public R&D, through partnerships across the EU.
- To achieve operational excellence and align with the applicants’ expectations.
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By: Giulia Busolin, Communications Specialist