Seventy-five promising start-ups and SMEs have been selected in the largest funding round so far under the pilot phase of the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator. As a major novelty, 39 of these companies are set to receive both a grant and a direct equity investment. Among the companies selected is Hiberband, who is creating the first global Internet of Things network using low-cost low-orbit satellites, Chrysalix Technologies, a university spin-off producing sustainable fuel using organic material and BrainQ, who is developing AI-powered technologies to transform the lives of patients with severe brain injuries.
This is the first time that this “blended finance” has been offered, and allows a much higher level of funding (up to €17.5 million per company) to accelerate the growth of European companies with ground-breaking innovations. The Commission has also signed an agreement with the European Investment Bank Group to set up a dedicated EIC Fund to manage the equity investment.
The future European Innovation Council will turn far more of Europe’s world class science and start-ups to global technology leaders. I am glad that this first offer of combined grant and equity financing saw such a high demand from Europe’s start-ups and SMEs. This confirms that the European Innovation Council is filling a gap in funding, and that it is right to set it up as a fully-fledged initiative under the next EU budget
The start-ups and SMEs selected for EIC Accelerator Pilot support span across 15 member states and five associated countries, with France and Israel hosting the maximum number of blended finance projects (six each) and with Switzerland and Germany hosting the maximum number of grant-only projects (9 and 6 respectively). The strong demand for blended finance from countries associated to the EU funding programme for research and innovation, as well as from companies across the EU, demonstrates the attractiveness of this new funding model and the attractiveness of collaborating with the European Union.
As well as the financial support, the start-ups and SMEs will have access to coaching, networking and business acceleration services to help them build their businesses. The new EIC Fund will conduct the necessary due diligence in order to make the equity investments in early 2020. The EIC Fund will bring in co-investments and follow up investments by private investors and others.