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EIC Accelerator in 2024

13 MarchOpen Call and specific topics for life sciences & health: Monoclonal antibody-based therapeutics for emerging viruses
3 OctoberOpen Call and specific topics for life sciences & health: Monoclonal antibody-based therapeutics for emerging viruses

The European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator program is a great opportunity for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to secure substantial funding for pushing their innovations to market. However, the application process is not an overnight endeavor. FFUND’s team leader Lorina Gjonaj and consultant Katja Jansen share their top five tips for crafting a successful EIC Accelerator application.

Tip 1: Strategize by starting early and understanding the process

The EIC Accelerator call is frequently undergoing changes, including a significant budget reduction from €1.09 billion in 2023 to €563 million in 2024, with a reduction to only two deadlines (13 March and 3 October). This underscores the necessity for meticulous and timely preparation.

Starting early is crucial to make a chance for the substantial non-dilutive funding and equity investments in this highly competitive call. Initiate your EIC Accelerator journey by understanding the application process and funding options, keeping in mind the strict cut-off dates for Step 2 and potential topic-specific challenges with a separate budget.

Step 1 involves a concise application with a short proposal, a 10 slide pitch deck, and a 3 minute video. While the short application is open for submission at all times, strategic planning is essential to meet the proposal deadlines for Step 2. If well prepared, Step 1 sets a robust foundation for Step 2, which requires a more detailed business plan, an implementation plan, and various annexes. The feedback from evaluators during Step 1 is invaluable for crafting a strong and compelling story to pass Step 2 to the final interview phase in Step 3.

Tip 2: Familiarize yourself with the evaluation criteria

Familiarize yourself with the comprehensive evaluation criteria of the EIC Accelerator, which consist of three key pillars:

  1. Excellence: This pillar evaluates the novelty and ambition of your innovation, considering factors like originality, technological maturity, and the potential for groundbreaking advancements.
  2. Impact: Assess the potential economic, societal, and environmental benefits of your innovation. This includes evaluating market potential, job creation, scalability, and contributions to addressing challenges.
  3. Level of Risk, Implementation, and Need for Union Support: Recognize the importance of demonstrating the level of risk associated with your project, outlining a clear implementation plan, and articulating the need for Union support.

While navigating the  various questions in Steps 1 and 2, it is easy to delve into detailed business descriptions. However, keeping the three pillars in mind will help you structure your proposal effectively. This ensures that you address all essential aspects that evaluators will consider, increasing your chances of success.

Tip 3: Have a sharp and compelling storyline 

Focus your innovation and marketing endeavors on a single indication and precisely defined target customer base. Clearly articulate your product’s value proposition and impact. To draft the proposal effectively, assign experts to contribute within their specific domains; for example, designate your business specialist to address business-related aspects and entrust your CTO with oversight of the technology section and Work Packages. However, prior to commencement, ensure a collective understanding of the project’s focus among all team members. Prioritize the evaluation criteria as you compile information, and keep in mind that you are not just presenting data; you are crafting a compelling narrative that must be easy to understand.

Tip 4: Focus on the European market with strategic commercial planning

Direct your application towards EU incentives and the European market. The EIC Accelerator aims to expedite upscaling, facilitating quicker product launches to transform the existing market. Align your priorities with the EIC’s goal of fostering innovation within the European Union and enhancing its global competitiveness. Emphasize European sales, at least initially, reserving expansion into international markets for later phases.

It is important to clarify and substantiate your commercial strategy. If strategic partners and/or distributors are key, provide names and level of commitment, ideally supported by Letters of Intent (LOI). Ensure your market reach is both realistic and quantifiable. In your approach to marketing and sales, articulate the reasons customers will opt for your product. Offer details on market penetration and reimbursement roadmaps, if applicable. Additionally, ensure that your Work Plan is comprehensive, covering thorough planning and hiring strategies.

Tip 5: Freedom to Operate (FTO) is essential

The Freedom to Operate (FTO) analysis is a mandatory annex to the EIC Accelerator application in Step 2, ensuring that you can patent your technology and navigate commercialization without infringement on third parties. While official FTO analyses by law firms may be costly, a strategic 2-page FTO statement, preferably endorsed by legal advisors, offers a budget-friendly alternative. Ensure that your FTO statement encompasses a comprehensive list of IP assets and thorough patent landscape analyses, presenting a holistic view on your IP status. Moreover, emphasize your dedication to proactive IP management and an exhaustive FTO analysis 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 and investments of up to €15 million for commercialization and scaling of 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. 

About the author
Picture of Katja Jansen

Katja Jansen