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Swiss start-ups left stranded by the EIC

Swiss startups have been hit by the recent issues between Switzerland and the EU. Although the Swiss Governmental Agency SERI (State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation)  has been actively promoting the EIC Accelerator among Swiss startups since 2020, the decision by the Swiss government to withdraw from the trade negotiations in May ignited a reaction from the European Commission who decided to exclude Switzerland from the list of preliminary associated countries to Horizon Europe. 

The outcome for Swiss applicants was not fully clear until last week when Swiss applicants painfully received a communication stating that they were ineligible given the status of Switzerland as a non-associated Horizon Europe country. Both successful and unsuccessful applications received the same sort of communication. Surprisingly, there were also a number of Swiss applicants who received both the communication as a successful applicant and as a rejected proposal. The EIC reported there was an internal communication mistake. 

Luckily, SERI has already clarified that the Swiss agency will finance EIC Accelerator successful applications (in step 2) by Swiss companies provided that they will not receive funding from the EIC but limited to this first cut-off (June 2021). This is indeed very good news for the Swiss applicants since they had invested a significant amount of effort and money in the application. In fact, the new EIC Accelerator process is reported to require an even higher amount of work than in  previous editions, given the extremely long and “custom” application form. 

The EIC includes in its Work Programme the possibility to award grants to non-EU applicants and some experts expected the EIC to automatically apply this mechanism to Swiss projects if they would relocate or create an entity in the EU. However, this has not been the case and successful Swiss applicants received a rejection letter given its non-eligibility.

Image by Claudia Beyli from Pixabay

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