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Five tips and tricks to make your EIC application a success

Be sure to mark the cut-off dates for 2023 in your calendar 

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The European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator program is a great opportunity for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to raise substantial funding to push their innovations to the market. Applying for funding is not something that can be done overnight though. FFUND’s team leader Lorina Gjonaj and consultant Katja Jansen share their top five tips for making a successful EIC Accelerator application.

Tip 1: Start on time. Really!

First of all, keep a close eye on the cut-off dates, which are strict deadlines. Your project could also fit to one of the topic-specific challenges, which change every year. Starting too late can mean missing out on millions of euros of non-dilutive funding or direct equity investments when the time would be right. Properly drafting the application, which is mainly divided into a business case and a project-specific part, will require a serious amount of time and effort. Start on time by collecting all the necessary information, especially regarding your Work Packages and budget.

Tip 2: Familiarize yourself with the evaluation criteria 

Familiarize yourself with the evaluation criteria specified by the EIC Accelerator program, which are grouped into three key areas: 1. Excellence, 2. Impact, and 3. Level of Risk, Implementation, and Need for Union Support. Each key area comes with a couple of specific questions. It can be easy to get lost in detailed descriptions of your business case. Keeping in mind the evaluation criteria will help you structure your proposal effectively and address all the key aspects that evaluators will consider.

Tip 3: Have a sharp and compelling storyline 

Ideally, you should focus your innovation activities and targeted market on one indication. Explain the value proposition of your device or solution. To do this in the best possible way, assign your experts to a section in their field of expertise. So, assign your business specialist to the business-related information, for example, and your CTO to the technology section. A project as large as this requires all hands on deck. Once you have compiled your information, be sure to make it accessible and approachable. You are telling a story. Make it stick. 

Tip 4: Focus on the European market 

The most important goal is to focus your application on EU incentives and the European market. The EIC Accelerator is meant to speed up the process of upscaling so that products can be launched quicker. The EIC’s priority is to foster innovation within the European Union and maximize its global competitiveness, so yours should be too, at least initially. Focus on European sales first and expand intercontinental later. 

Tip 5: Don’t underestimate your Freedom to Operate (FTO) document 

Be aware of the time and money it can take to draw up a Freedom to Operate (FTO) document, which is a mandatory annex for the EIC.  An official FTO analysis can only be acquired via your lawyer. Furthermore, depending on how deep your analysis goes, the costs can easily run up to around thirty thousand euros. Smaller ventures do not usually have that kind of money lying around, so make sure you are prepared with an alternative 2-page FTO statement; it can prove valuable to include a small quote from your legal advisors regarding the likelihood of FTO based on current knowledge and that you plan on performing an official FTO at a certain timepoint within the EIC project. 

About the EIC Accelerator 

The EIC Accelerator provides non-dilutive grant funding of up to €2.5 million for innovation development costs, direct equity investments of up to €15 million managed by the EIC Fund for scaling up and other relevant costs, and investments of more than €15 million for companies working on technologies of strategic European interest. In addition, EIC-selected companies receive coaching, mentoring, access to investors and corporates, and many other opportunities as part of the EIC community. 

This article was written by Lorina Gjonaj and Katja Jansen

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Katja Jansen