Everything you need to know about EIC funding


2 May 2022

Image: © Sebastian Duda/Stock.adobe.com

Myriad Associates’ Emma Lewis explains how Irish companies can benefit from European Innovation Council grant funding in 2022.

Funding the latest cutting-edge innovation is key to maintaining European competition on a global stage.

Following a pilot that formed part of the previous Horizon 2020 programme, the European Innovation Council (EIC) is now established as part of the EU’s Horizon Europe funding programme. With a €10bn budget, the EIC’s fund is crucial in supporting game-changing innovations from early-stage research, real world validation, and commercialisation through to company scale-up.

Future Human

Now in its first full year, Horizon Europe has a budget of €1.7bn for 2022.

EIC’s work will build upon the progress made in 2021 with some major improvements:

  • EIC Accelerator equity investments above €15m are now possible
  • At least 40pc of the EIC juries and EIC expert evaluators will be women, with the objective to reach 50pc
  • The definition of women-led companies has been broadened to recognise the role of women in executive board positions beyond the chief executive officer
  • There are provisions to increase the number of women-led projects to be invited to the jury interview stage
  • Following the collaboration between the EIC and European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), a fast-track process has been established
  • Timelines for the rebuttal procedure have been clarified

More funding opportunities

EIC funding and support is organised into three main funding schemes: the Pathfinder programme, transition grants and EIC transition challenges.

Pathfinder

Pathfinder is for projects conducting advanced research to underpin scientific breakthroughs. In 2022, funding of €183m is available for the open competition and €167m for the challenges.

Grants of up to €4m, with 100pc funding, are available per project. Consortia of three legal entities from three member states are required for the open competition, while single applicants or two-member consortia are possible for the challenges.

The EIC Pathfinder challenges identified for 2022 are:

  • Carbon dioxide and nitrogen management and valorisation
  • Mid to long-term systems-integrated energy storage
  • Cardiogenomics
  • Continuous healthcare
  • DNA-based digital data storage
  • Alternative approaches to quantum information processing, communication and sensing

The deadline for applications for the open competition is 3 May while the challenges are open for applicants up to 19 October.

Transition grants

Applications are only eligible for transition grants if they build upon results from a Pathfinder project, ERC Proof of Concept, or a project previously funded under FET-Open (the precursor to Pathfinder under Horizon 2020). These projects should achieve transition towards specific applications while also improving market readiness.

The 2022 budget for this call is more than €131m: €70.86m for the open competition and €60.5m for challenges.

The EIC transition challenges are:

  • Green digital devices for the future
  • Process and system integration of clean energy technologies
  • RNA-based therapies and diagnostics for complex or rare genetic diseases

You can apply for transition grants as either a single beneficiary or a small consortium of two independent legal entities from two different EU member states or associated countries, or a consortium from a minimum of three and a maximum of five independent legal entities.

Applications for the open competition close on 4 May while challenges remain open for applications up to 28 September.

EIC Accelerator

In terms of budget and scope, the largest EIC instrument is the EIC Accelerator programme with a budget of €1.1bn in 2022.

The EIC Accelerator is a three-stage application with grants of up to €2.5m for technology development and investments from €500,000 for commercialisation and company scale-up.

EIC Accelerator projects have a single beneficiary, with SMEs to small to mid-cap companies eligible.

The 2022 budget for the accelerator is €630.6m for the open competition and €536.9m for the challenges.

The EIC Accelerator challenges are:

The next cut-off dates for full applications to the EIC Accelerator are 15 June and 5 October.

Funding success for Irish start-ups

As a result of last year’s funding round, two Irish coordinators celebrated EU funding success amongst 42 others.

Relevium Medical, based in Galway and led by CEO Dr Alison Liddy, will receive more than €2m towards the development of a triple-action injectable treatment for osteoarthritis.

Helixworks Technologies, based in Cork and led by CEO Nimesh Pinnamaneni, has been awarded more than €3m to develop its intelligent DNA data storage.

These two companies were the only two EIC transition grant beneficiaries funded in Ireland during 2021, and competition was fierce.

The funding will help them take their breakthrough research from the lab into the real world.

“The EIC programme, unlike nearly any other, is focused on supporting innovators to advance breakthrough innovations in the lab to market,” said Pinnamaneni. “My goal and the goal of Helixworks is to help integrate advanced biotechnologies into society in a manner that improves social, economic and environmental sustainability.”

Myriad Associates served as EIC funding advisers to both Helixworks and Relevium Medical. Its specialist advisers helped craft their R&D grant funding applications.

“Helixworks and Relevium’s success is emblematic of the groundbreaking innovative work taking place across Ireland,” said Lauren Olson, senior consultant for innovation grants at Myriad Associates.

“Success in a grant funding competition is never guaranteed, but projects with the best chance of winning EU funding combine novel technology, strong IP protection and a clear business plan in activities that help Europe meet its strategic priorities,” she advised.

By Emma Lewis

Emma Lewis is a copywriter at Myriad Associates. With bases in the UK, France and Ireland, Myriad has more than a decade of experience in supporting companies to win EU grant funding.

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