News about the European Innovation Council
By Ingemar Pongratz
One area that is a typical European problem is the low degree of translation of research results into new products and services. To improve the translation of research results into new products and services, preferably in the form of small and medium sized enterprises is a priority for European research spending. This was indeed true in the currently ongoing Horizon 2020 programme and will remain a priority in the future Horizon Europe programme, which is scheduled to start in 2021.
One of the European problems in this area is the lack of financing, in particular for the initial stages of the development process of new products and services. There is a lack of funding to start the process of development of new products, in particular at early (seed) stages.
To change this trend the European Commission is planning to set up the European Innovation Council (EIC). The aim of this council is to provide funding to innovators to develop their ideas into commercialization. Here we present News about the European Innovation Council
The EIC pilot started in 2017 and has provided funding through a new process, which includes face to face interviews. In 2019 the EIC will open calls for SME which include both grants and equity financing.
In the coming Horizon Europe programme, the European Commission aims to provide at least 10 billion EUR to support European Innovation. Of these funds, the majority (60%) will be non grant funding and include equity or loan instruments.
Currently, the European Commission is working with staffing the EIC and recruiting the necessary expertise to launch the EIC activities. However, there are still issues to resolve, also at the political level. There is still considerable concern that Horizon Europe, like its predecessor Horizon 2020, will not support organizations in the New Member States. There are strong opinions in the European Parliament that more needs to be done to erase the geographic divide in Europe.
Also, there is concern how the European Commission will be able to fulfill its role as a investor and to take responsibility as an investor towards the SME that receive funding for equity. The DG Research Commissioner has stated that the European Commission would not act as a private stakeholder. This would allow the SME to retain their independence. However, how would the Commission act as an investor? Would it protect the interests of the SME over other interests? This is still not clear.
The European Commission has also stated that it will recruit Innovation Scouts, who would work to identify promising projects and direct them towards the EIC. This is a very interesting idea, specially if the Commission would include scouts outside the typical Innovation Experts that have a very narrow field of view.
A lot of interesting news will be published soon, in June 2019, when the Commission is expected to launch the EIC pilot call.
Ingemar Pongratz is owner of Fenix Scientific AB / Pongratz Consulting. We help organizations with application for public funding including European sources. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need our support. You can reach us at:
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