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Norwegian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are encouraged to apply for funding under the EIC Accelerator to get a ground-breaking business concept ready for the market.
To be eligible for funding under the next call with the deadline of 19 May 2020, the innovation must help to achieve one or more of the goals of the European Green Deal. Women-led companies are particularly encouraged to apply.
The EIC Accelerator (previously known as the SME Instrument) is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot that supports high-risk, high-potential SMEs (including startups) to help them to develop and bring onto the market new innovative products, services and business models.
The EIC Accelerator is highly selective and competition is tough.
Selected companies receive a grant of EUR 0.5 to 2.5 million and optional equity of up to EUR 15 million and are offered business coaching and mentoring to scale up their innovation. They also get additional acceleration services to connect with investors, corporates and likeminded entrepreneurs, thereby boosting visibility and chances for success.
The European Green Deal is the EU’s new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a climate-neutral society by 2050, while creating new jobs.
The EIC Accelerator call with the deadline of 19 May 2020 is only open to projects that help to achieve one or more of the Green Deal goals:
Increasing the EU’s climate mitigation and/or adaptation ambition;
Supplying clean, affordable and secure energy;
Transitioning of industry to a clean and/or circular economy (including waste prevention and/or recycling);
Building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way;
Accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility;
Transition to a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system;
Preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity;
Realising a zero pollution ambition and a toxic-free environment.
Individual, for-profit SMEs in any sector are eligible to apply. Growth companies are encouraged, but startups are also eligible. Companies must fall within the EU’s SME Definition.
The company’s proposed concept should be ground-breaking and at the last stage before scale-up. The company should have a convincing business plan and a talented team because competition is fierce. Priority will be given to concepts involving deep technology, with intensive R&D and a long innovation cycle.
Companies with women CEOs are strongly encouraged to apply. The European Commission aims to have at least 25 per cent of the applications in the pool of the best applications – those that will be invited to face-to-face interviews – submitted by SMEs led by women CEOs (or equivalent position).
Activities for turning a business concept into a market-ready product include trials, prototyping, validation, demonstration and testing in real-world conditions, and market replication. If the activity concerns a primarily technological innovation, a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6-8 is expected for projects requesting grants only.
The EIC Accelerator allocates grants between EUR 0.5 and 2.5 million.
The EIC Accelerator also offers blended finance in the form of an optional investment in equity in addition to the grant. Grants will finance activities from TRL 6-8. Activities above TRL 8 will financed only through blended finance.
Applicants will be asked to indicate if they want blended finance and the amount requested for equity. The maximum investment in the form of equity is EUR 15 million.
The project period should be 12 to 24 months, but may be longer in exceptional and well-justified cases.
Innovation Norway offers free coaching in Oslo and in Brussels to SMEs that are invited to Brussels to present their EIC Accelerator project in person to a jury. Read more by clicking on this link (in Norwegian).
For more information and assistance, please contact one of Innovation Norway’s EU Advisors by clicking on this link (in Norwegian).