20 February 2024

Unlocking Success: A step-by-step guide to getting the EIC Accelerator

Have you developed a groundbreaking high-risk/high-gain technology with the potential to create entirely new markets, and are you seeking funding to scale your product? Then, the EIC Accelerator might be an opportunity for you. In this article, we guide you through the step-by-step process of securing the highly coveted EIC Accelerator grant. Gain insights into the application process, who it’s a match for, the success rate, and insider tips to secure the EIC Accelerator.
EU finansiering

What is the EIC Accelerator?

The EIC Accelerator is a prestigious EU funding program initiated by the European Innovation Council (EIC) to support ground-breaking innovations and ambitious entrepreneurs.

The program supports:

  • Start-ups and SMEs that aim to accelerate the growth of high-impact innovations that can create new markets or disrupt existing ones.
  • Innovations rooted in scientific discoveries or technological advancements (deep tech)
  • Innovations that require substantial funding over an extended period and pose too much risk for sole reliance on private investors.

The purpose of the EIC Accelerator is not to support EU policy but to create growth and jobs.

How to win the EIC Accelerator grant

Securing the EIC Accelerator grant requires careful planning and much preparation, but the payoff is also considerable.

Kristina Jensen, Chief Commercial Officer of GO-Pen ApS, states:

The funding enables GO-Pen ApS to accelerate the product portfolio development to accommodate more insulins, scale up the manufacturing capacity, build a solid commercial strategy with tactics, and accelerate the roll-out in more LMIC countries. To do that, we are also expanding our team to serve the 11 million people with diabetes who need access to an affordable insulin pen.

Kristina Jensen
Chief Commercial Officer, GO-Pen ApS

In the following sections, we will delve into the types of grants, what types of companies are a match for the program, insider tips for getting the EIC Accelerator, and the steps in the application process.

There are three types of grants in the EIC Accelerator

You can apply for one of the following types of funding. It’s essential to ensure that your application profile and associated activities align well with the chosen type of funding and are thoroughly justified.

  • Blended finance; Grant & investment 
    If the company requires support with development (TRL 5/6 to 8*), deployment, and scaling up.
  • Grant only
    If the company can demonstrate adequate financial resources for deployment and scaling up (TRL 9*).
  • Investment only 
    Assuming the company has previously been granted funds, and the financing is necessary to facilitate additional expansion.

* Technology readiness levels (TRLs) are a method for assessing the maturity of technologies.

What types of companies and projects have the best chance of getting funded?

MedTech and disruptive IT companies with proprietary new tech have historically had a higher success rate in getting the EIC Accelerator.

These products are not in scope for the EIC Accelerator:

  • IT platform seeking critical mass to use AI
  • Disruptive new business models based on known tech

Insider tips for your EIC Accelerator application

It’s not merely about having a groundbreaking idea; it’s about presenting a compelling case for your project’s market potential, scalability, and societal impact. You can increase your chances of securing the highly competitive EIC Accelerator grant by strategically aligning your proposal with the program’s objectives and demonstrating a solid business plan.

We asked Rasmus Mørk, team leader at the Greater Copenhagen EU Office, to share some insider tips for applicants when applying for the EIC Accelerator:

“You should approach an application to the EIC Accelerator program as an investor pitch with a twist. To receive funding, you need to convince the EU that you can exploit first-mover advantages based on a technological breakthrough to make a high profit, which is then assumed to be reinvested in the company to create growth and jobs in Europe. The twist is not how your project supports EU policy since the societal benefit is mainly seen as an indication of market need in the EIC Accelerator program”, Rasmus Mørk explains.

You should approach an application to the EIC Accelerator program as an investor pitch with a twist. The twist consists of the argument you must build for the need for EU funding. You must show that your project has a high risk/gain profile.

Rasmus Mørk
Team leader, Greater Copenhagen EU Office

Rasmus Mørk continues: “If the demonstration project funded by the grant is successful, the risk will drop to an acceptable level for private investors. With extra investment from the EU, you can fully exploit first-mover advantages.“

The EIC Accelerator application process

The application process for the EIC Accelerator requires careful preparation and execution. Often, it is beneficial to invest in experienced application consultants to help with the application. The Greater Copenhagen EU Office provides its members financial support to prepare EU applications.

Since it is a very time-consuming process, it is crucial to consider whether the program aligns with your business goals and the criteria for applying before starting the process, especially since the overall success rate for Danish applicants, according to Rasmus Mørk is only 6% (7% in EU).

The success rate for applications in 2022

Step 1
  • Denmark: 75 %
  • EU: 64 %
Step 2
  • Denmark: 32 %
  • EU: 23 %
  • Denmark: 18 %
  • EU: 31 %

Danish applications: 6%

EU applications: 7%

Another crucial aspect to consider is the timing and stage of your company’s development. Rasmus Mørk emphasizes the importance of securing external funding (such as soft funding or from business angels) before applying for the EIC Accelerator. Without it, your application may not be suitable for the program.

“You need external funding before you apply for EIC Accelerator. Otherwise, it is not a match.”

Rasmus Mørk
Team leader, Greater Copenhagen EU Office

Here is an overview of the three steps to apply for the EIC Accelerator program effectively.

Step 1: Short proposal

The first step is to submit a brief application, where you need to:

  • Answer questions about your team, potential market, and scientific breakthrough innovation/disruption.
  • Present a pitch deck of a maximum of 10 slides (pdf).
  • Create a video pitch of a maximum of 3 minutes in which you share your motivation for your proposal.

You can apply on an ongoing basis.

The application is typically evaluated within four weeks. If your application meets the basic criteria for EIC Accelerator funding, and at least three evaluators give a GO, you will be invited to prepare a full proposal.

Step 2: Full proposal

After you get the ‘GO’ in step one, you have 12 months to prepare and submit your full proposal. The full proposal deadlines are twice a year. See the EIC Accelerator website for the dates.

  • Fill out the template for the full proposal carefully (approx. 100-page business plan). The questions involve commercialization strategy, market readiness, scale-up potential, and team capabilities.
  • Three experts evaluate your proposal within five weeks. You need three GOs to continue to step 3, a face-to-face interview.

For more information on the application process, please see the EIC Accelerator FAQ page, which shares links and templates for the proposals.

Step 3: Interview with the EIC jury

If your application meets all the criteria, you will receive an invitation to participate in a face-to-face interview with an EIC jury.

  • The interview takes place around 8-9 weeks after the cut-off dates. The interview focuses on your financing plans, company value, acceleration with EU, and your team.
  • At the investor pitch, they want you to demonstrate traction – or at least a solid plan for gaining traction or a positive ROI. If you don’t know the next step on your growth journey, this program is not a match.
  • Max 3 representatives are allowed to participate in the interview.

The EIC panel is composed of 4-6 jury members. You will get an answer within three weeks.

Note: You can only apply two times. If you are rejected twice, you get a one-year quarantine.

Good luck with your EIC Accelerator application!