After two years in pandemic, 2022 is expected to be ‘the year’, that is, the year to recover normality, the year to make new plans, the year to start again stronger than ever. Consequently, the EIC has especially designed this year’s program to encourage companies to target new challenges and make their businesses grow. Even though it has been delayed a bit, the 2022 EIC challenges look promising and are full of opportunities.
By Sara Gavidia
The 2022 work programme
The European Commission has adopted the 2022 work programme of the European Innovation Council (EIC), whose aim is to provide funding opportunities worth over €1.7 billion so that great innovators can scale up and create new markets. Although this organization launches a new program every year, 2022 has come with a bit of delay.
At first, the EIC Accelerator was expected to have a cut-off date in January. Nevertheless, due to political negotiations about the budget and some operational issues– such as how to manage the fund-, it has been delayed until March 23. The other two calls are expected to be on June 15 and on October 5.
Within this program, there are three different calls: the EIC Pathfinder, EIC Transition, and the EIC Accelerator, the latter being the one we are most interested in, since it is specialized in individual companies that develop and scale up amazing innovations with high risk and high impact.
The EIC Accelerator 2022 has launched two challenges for this year with some ambitious objectives that are worth taking a look at. While the total EIC Accelerator budget is €1.16 Billion, the EIC challenges call have a total budget of €537 Million for 2022.
EIC Accelerator Challenge: Technologies for Open Strategic Autonomy
This challenge is designed for highly innovative startups and SMEs that strive to provide new technologies, pioneering solutions and breakthrough innovations in some strategic areas with their respective objectives. Some of them include the pharmaceutical industry, the healthcare area, sustainable and innovative approaches, quantum technologies, or edge computing applications, among others.
The main objective of this challenge is to considerably reduce the European dependency on other regions for deep-tech innovations as well as for services of strategic interest. Therefore, it would strengthen the European competitiveness, security and open strategic autonomy.
Its target is on highly innovative SMEs (including start-ups, spinouts) and small midcaps from any sector as long as they work on innovative solutions within the above-mentioned areas, so as to be ahead of the evolution of said technology and be able to capture its advantages.
EIC Accelerator Challenge: Technologies for ‘Fit for 55’
The second EIC Accelerator challenge focuses on supporting the development and scaling up of technologies, and boosts great innovations promoting the green transition. Innovations taking part in this challenge need enough potential so as to create considerable economic, competitiveness and employment benefits for Europe.
Projects can belong to any field of technology provided that they have the potential requested to meet some specific goals related to sustainability, such as achieving a higher clean energy conversion and use through energy harvesting, achieving the decarbonisation of some industries, an energy efficiency and safety in the built environment, or zero emission mobility solutions, among others.
This challenge is expected to make a positive contribution to the environment, which is why it targets breakthrough SMEs and small midcaps developing innovations that meet the goals of the ‘Fit to 55’ plan, whose ambition is to achieve a climate neutrality by 2050.
EIC Accelerator Open
For projects and startups that do not target these challenges, the EIC has also launched a third call within the 2022 program: the EIC Accelerator Open, with a total budget of €623 Million and whose purpose is to welcome any idea or company that cannot apply for the other two challenges. In this way, it does not present thematic priorities nor a specific field of technology to develop a business, but it is open to any proposal as long as it does not harm the environment.
As we can see, the EIC Accelerator 2022 program is a powerful tool to encourage companies -mostly startups- improve and further develop their innovations but it also targets specific European and global challenges such as strategic autonomy and climate change. It helps companies go beyond, finance the most difficult steps -from prototype to the market. And in turn, the world receives breakthrough innovations that not only do improve our lives, but also the planet’s sustainability.
Do you accept the challenge?