New European funding and investments for game-changing startups and SMEs

The European Commission adopted the 2022 work programme of the European Innovation Council, opening new European funding and investments for startups and SMEs. With over €1.7 billion, the European Innovation Council aims to identify and support breakthrough technologies and game-changing innovations.

“The European Innovation Council has already supported 4 unicorns and more than 90 centaurs. The work programme for this year is backed by the biggest ever annual funding for visionary entrepreneurs and researchers, as well as new measures to support female innovators and scale-ups. Europe is committed to supporting innovation and new technologies and we are on track to meet our ambition to make the EIC Europe’s unicorn factory.”

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth


Following a successful two-year pilot phase, the European Innovation Council (EIC) was launched in March 2021 as a major novelty of the Horizon Europe programme. The goal of the EIC is to nurture deep tech innovations and support researchers and entrepreneurs in their idea-to-market journeys. Three main funding schemes will allocate the total budget of €10.1 billion for 2021-2027 :

  1. EIC Pathfinderdedicated to advanced research on breakthrough and/or game-changing technologies
  2. EIC Transitionintended for transforming research results into concrete innovation opportunities
  3. EIC Acceleratoravailable for individual SMEs, in particular startups and spinouts, to develop and scale up breakthrough innovations.


New initiatives to further accelerate European tech

The recently adopted EIC work programme for 2022 introduced several novelties and simplifications of the application process, such as:

  • Scale-Up 100: Having supported over 2600 start-ups and SMEs since 2018, the EIC introduced the EIC Scale-up 100 initiative to identify and support the most promising deep technology companies across the EU that have the potential to become ‘unicorns’ (with a valuation of over €1 billion).
  • Equity investments above €15 million: The EIC Accelerator will allow companies that work on technologies of strategic European interest to apply for the EIC investments of more than €15 million.
  • Stronger support for female innovators:
    • The development of an innovation gender and diversity index to identify gaps and encourage diversity within companies.
    • The 2022 edition of the EU Prize for Women Innovators will feature two additional prizes for ‘rising female innovators,’ under the age of 35. The 2022 edition will open in March with a deadline in August 2022.
  • All companies that will now be funded by the EIC due to budget constraints will automatically receive the Seal of Excellence, which could help them obtain funding from other EU funding schemes.
  • The EIC Transition and the EIC Accelerator will have more frequent application deadlines in 2022.


Challenge-driven funding as a response to policy priorities

Besides, the 2022 work programme has set out an updated set of strategic ‘EIC Challenges,’ for which funding will be available. As such, startups will receive over €500 million to develop technologies that will contribute to the EU’s target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, and for building strategic autonomy in quantum, space, and new medical technologies.


European Innovation Council online Info Day

An online information day took place on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, and provided general information on the EIC’s newly adopted work programme. The sessions walked the audience through all funding opportunities for research teams, start-ups, SMEs, and investors. More information on who is eligible and how to apply for funding here.


Digital for Planet: from novel ideas to technological implementation

Do you need someone to help you navigate the new European funding and investments for your startups and SMEs? 

The European Innovation Council is an integral part of Horizon Europe but with its own governance structure and research funding instruments in a separate work programme. We know that funding schemes can be confusing. Get in touch if you need any advice or support in navigating the Horizon Europe programme and watch this video to learn how Digital for Planet can support you in your Horizon Europe journey. With over two decades of experience in acquiring funding, we are well-equipped to support you in writing successful proposals and securing funds for your tech initiative. We look forward to hearing from you.