Other actions supported by the European Commission’s European Innovation Council outside of the Accelerator, Pathfinder and Transition instruments and the EIC Prizes.
Horizon Europe is the ninth European Research and Innovation Framework programme (2021-2027). In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is one of the key instruments of the European Union’s efforts to steer and accelerate Europe’s recovery, preparedness and resilience. In the context of a new European Research Area for research and innovation, it aims to strengthen Europe’s knowledge base through frontier research, spur breakthrough innovation and support the development and demonstration of innovative solutions, and help restore industrial leadership and open strategic autonomy.
The first Horizon Europe Strategic Plan (2021-2024) which sets out key strategic orientations for the support of research and innovation, was adopted on 15 March 2021.
Activity under Horizon Europe is primarily organised under three ‘pillars’:
- Pillar I – Excellent Science
- Pillar II – Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness
- Pillar III – Innovative Europe
The European Innovation Council (EIC) is a significant part of Pillar III – Innovative Europe, which will target market-creating innovation and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) growth. The EIC is the European Commission’s primary tool for identifying and supporting breakthrough technologies and significant innovations with the potential to scale up internationally and become market leaders.
The EIC supports all stages of innovation, from R&D on the scientific underpinnings of breakthrough technologies, to validation and demonstration of breakthrough technologies and innovations to meet real world needs, to the development and scaling up of start-ups and SMEs.
Financial support through the EIC is provided under three main instruments:
- The EIC Pathfinder – for advanced research to develop the scientific basis to underpin breakthrough technologies
- The EIC Transition (new for Horizon Europe) – for transforming research results into innovation opportunities, and to validate technologies and develop business plans for specific applications. Applications must build on results from eligible Pathfinder or ERC Proof of Concept projects
- The EIC Accelerator – to support companies (SMEs, start-ups, spin-outs and in exceptional cases small mid-caps) to bring their (usually high-risk/high-impact) innovations to market and scale up
Linkages between these funding schemes will be maximised through proactive and new approaches, such as additional grants to ongoing Pathfinder projects, a Marketplace to connect preliminary and final research results with entrepreneurs and investors, and the Fast Track scheme from Pathfinder and Transition to enter the Accelerator. All EIC funded projects and companies have access to a range of Business Acceleration Services providing access to leading expertise, corporates, investors and ecosystem actors.
Funding issued through the EIC is predominantly open and bottom-up in nature, although it is also able to support strategic challenges. The EIC also provides additional activities such as prizes.
Outside of these areas, the EIC supports additional activities labelled ‘Other actions’. These broadly focus on co-creation with public buyers of innovations, data management and IT tools, and support through the Enterprise Europe Network.