EIC Accelerator – Horizon Europe funding program for innovative companies


Category: All Public funding

Keywords: 2021 Funding programs, 2021 grant calls, 2021 Horizon Europe, Accelerator, EIC Accelerator, Equity investments, EU Funding, EU grants, European Innovation Council, Funding opportunities, Horizon Europe, Innovation funding, SME grants


EIC Accelerator – Horizon Europe funding program for innovative companies

The highly anticipated Horizon Europe framework is officially inaugurated. Innovative companies with novel technologies in the form of disrupting products and business models will find recurring financial opportunities to support their projects through the European Innovation Council (EIC). This article introduces the calls for proposals by the EIC in 2021 with emphasis on the EIC Accelerator program. The EIC is a key component of Horizon Europe’s innovation agenda for enterprises. For an overview of the Horizon Europe program, please read our introductory article.

European Innovation Council

The EIC funds companies at critical stages of research and development (R&D) and commercialization to support advancing breakthrough innovations to market. They help finance and support new products, services, and business models that could drive economic growth and shape new markets or disrupt existing ones. The ambition is to foster the full innovation cycle, from R&D to rapid scale up of innovative technologies and companies (mainly start-ups and SMEs) at international level. EIC will have a budget of 10.1 BEUR at their disposal to fund innovative ideas and projects over the next seven years. EIC focuses on innovations that support the UN Sustainable development goals and promote female leadership.

EIC, Horizon Europe Funding Program, Excedea, EU grants, public funding

EIC has three funding programs: Pathfinder, Transition, and Accelerator, designated to specific stages of an innovation, labeled TRL (Technology readiness level). The programs are aligned to support the development from very early-stage research (Pathfinder, TRL 1-3), to making it through the ‘valley of death’, i.e., the transformation of research results into applications (Transition, TRL 4-5), and scale-up and commercialization (Accelerator, TRL 5-9).

  • Pathfinder will have two deadlines in 2021: May 19 and October 27.
  • Transition projects’ deadline in 2021: September 21.
  • Accelerator – the most interesting funding program for profit-driven enterprises – has two cut-offs for full proposals in 2021: June 9 and October 6.

EIC Accelerator (previously known as the SME instrument)

The popular Accelerator program continues in Horizon Europe and seeks to support SME applicants in the mid-/later stages of the development cycle, or TRL 6-9. SMEs can apply individually for a 2.5 MEUR grant with a 70% funding rate and/or equity investment (so-called blended finance) up to 15 MEUR. Thus, the program offers 17.5 MEUR in financing opportunities. The Accelerator is open to both bottom-up calls and challenge-driven specific calls. The challenge-driven calls in 2021 focus on (1) Strategic health, (2) Digital technologies, and (3) Green Deal innovations for the economic recovery. There are important changes in 2021 to take into consideration, such as below:

New and improved Accelerator application process and 2021 deadlines

The application process was re-designed to better meet the demands of SMEs. The first step to apply is a short application including a 5-page proposal, pitch deck, and a video pitch. The short application process will open in April and is then planned to be open continuously for submissions.

Project proposals that pass the first threshold are then invited to complete the full application proposal within one year. The cut-offs for those invited to complete the full Accelerator applications in 2021 are June 9 and October 6 for both open and challenge-specific applications with a total budget of 1.1 BEUR. Applicants looking to apply for the June cut-off are advised to submit their short proposal in the first half of April.

The final step is an interview. A panel of six experts will listen to the company’s presentation of the innovation for 10 minutes and then conduct a 30-minute Q&A session. Companies that pass the interview stage will receive a funding proposal from the EIC and are invited to negotiate the grant and equity component. At least 40% of applicants invited to the interview stage will have female CEOs.


EIC, Horizon Europe Funding Program, Excedea, EU grants, public funding

Limited resubmissions

To reduce the number of applications, as well as to improve the overall quality, EIC will limit resubmissions in the Accelerator program from 2021 onwards. If a project does not receive funding after two submissions, a 12-month pause for the company is required. After this cooling period, only a significantly improved or completely new project can be submitted for evaluation.

How can Excedea facilitate your business growth with funding from the Horizon Europe?

Excedea is an expert in public funding and producing strong applications. We have for more than 15 years offered full cycle support in securing funding and investments, nationally and internationally, with 500+ successful funding applications. We have seen success with the EIC applications, winning millions of EUR for our clients. Our experience comprises several industries such as life science, IT, manufacturing, and food. We help companies to:

  • Find the right public funding: We transform your knowledge from a broad understanding of grants to concrete national and EU funding opportunities for your business development plan.
  • Write a competitive application: We develop the project idea with you, support consortium management, craft convincing text tailored to your project and ensure the opportunity is optimized to get you the most funds available.
  • Report: We ensure that progress and financial reports are delivered and reduce your administrative burden.


Do you have an innovative project in the pipeline and are interested in attaining public funding? Do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about the available opportunities. R&D performing companies often have several projects eligible for public funding.

For exploring public funding opportunities in your area, contact our regional experts:


Jaakko Ojanen, tel: +358 (0)40 557 6602



Henrik Dagmalm, tel: +46 7 0988 6667



Kai Krashevski, tel: +372 5647 7546


Back to blogs