Since 2014, the former "SME Instrument", now EIC Accelerator, has been targeting innovative SMEs with European and global ambitions.

Any topic or field is welcome. Non-technological innovations, such as social innovations or innovations in the service sector, can also be funded. 

Target group
Only individual SMEs based in an EU Member State or in one of the countries associated with Horizon 2020 are eligible. Research institutions, universities or larger companies may support the funded SME as subcontractors. 

There are two funding options

  • purely grant-based funding (non-repayable grant) between 0.5 and 2.5 million euros ("grant-only")
  • mixed funding, consisting of grant and capital financing ("blended financing"), also for further market activities. Blended financing consists of a non-repayable grant of between EUR 0.5 and 2.5 million and equity capital of up to EUR 15 million. 

Innovation status
A technology readiness level of 5 or 6 is required to apply for funding. That is, the research should be completed and the technology verified in relevant environments (TRL 5), or a working demonstrator (TRL 6) should be available. As a rule, funding is provided for development close to the market, starting from "demonstration under operational conditions".  

Innovation and final development activities are carried out in the Accelerator. This includes activities such as demonstration, testing, prototyping, piloting, scale-up, miniaturization or design, right through to market implementation. 

Further facts:

  • only for-profit SMEs and start-ups are eligible to apply.
  • this is a single grant (involvement of other partners only possible as subcontractors).
  • open-topic approach ("bottom-up")
  • funding for market-oriented project ideas (basic research must have been completed).
  • free support from business coaches as part of the grant (maximum 12 days per project).
  • continuous submission with 4 deadlines per year
  • project duration: 12 to 24 months
  • funding percentage: 70% of total eligible costs (additionally, 25% as indirect costs). 

Application procedure
The procedure is two-stage. After the online procedure, particularly promising applicants are invited to an interview in Brussels in the second stage. There they present their project to a jury of experts. Applications from SMEs with the most compelling interviews will be selected for funding. 

Applications may only be submitted through the Funding and Tender Opportunities Portal. Submission is possible on an ongoing basis with four deadlines per year. 

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