Applying to EIC Accelerator – 5 tips to nail your proposal
The European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator programme is a prestigious funding opportunity for deep tech start-ups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe. The programme provides both grant and equity financing, making it a highly sought-after source of funding with a success rate of ~5%. If you want to get your EIC Accelerator proposal funded, you need to make sure to implement the following five tips:
Tip 1: Start Early and Plan Strategically
Begin your preparations well in advance of the application deadline. The EIC Accelerator process involves 3 stages: a short proposal including a video pitch and slide deck, a full proposal, and an in-person interview. Give yourself ample time to thoroughly understand the program requirements, gather necessary information, and craft a compelling proposal.
Be aware that the short proposal has no deadline, but it takes approximately a month for the reviewers to provide you with an evaluation, so start early. Develop a timeline that includes your submission deadlines and the evaluation time of reviews to ensure a systematic and well-thought-out approach.
Tip 2: Assess and Align with Technology Readiness Levels (TRL)
Evaluate the current Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of your innovation before applying to the EIC Accelerator. Be honest about the development stage of your project and ensure that it aligns with the program’s expectations. The EIC Accelerator is best suited for innovations that have advanced beyond early validation activities and are closer to market implementation (TRL5/6). Applying too early may result in a misalignment with the program’s objectives.
Take the time to advance your technology to a stage where it demonstrates feasibility and a clear path to market, increasing your chances of a successful application. Regularly reassess your project’s TRL to determine the optimal timing for submission.
Tip 3: Understand the Evaluation Criteria
Familiarize yourself with the evaluation criteria used by the EIC Accelerator program. Criteria include the excellence of the innovation, the quality and feasibility of the business plan, the impact on the market, and the quality of the team. Note that the diversity of the team has also shown to be a winning criterion, as women-led companies have had a higher success rate in 2023. Tailor your proposal to clearly address these criteria, emphasizing the uniqueness and potential impact of your innovation, as well as the scalability and market viability of your project and the strength of your team.
Tip 4: Craft a Strong Business Case
Clearly articulate the commercial potential of your innovation. Develop a robust business case that outlines your market strategy, target customers, competitive landscape, and potential risks. The EIC Accelerator is not just about the innovation itself but also about its market potential and the business’ ability to scale. The EIC Accelerator is looking for the new “centaurs” and “unicorns” – companies that have the future potential to be valued at €100m and €1bn, respectively. Be specific about how the grant will contribute to achieving key milestones and advancing your project towards the market.
Tip 5: Prepare a Compelling Pitch Presentation:
If you progress to the interview stage, be ready to deliver a compelling pitch presentation. The perfect team to pitch is the CEO for the strategy and direction of the company, CSO/CTO for all scientific and technological questions, and CFO for the financial questions. Clearly communicate the value proposition of your innovation, focusing on how it addresses market needs and sets your company apart. Anticipate and address potential questions from the panel of experts. Practice your pitch with a focus on clarity, conciseness, and the ability to convey enthusiasm for your project. At Catalyze, we offer pitch trainings with an experienced mock-panel for our clients to make sure you are well prepared.
Remember, the EIC Accelerator program is highly competitive, so investing time and effort in thorough preparation can significantly increase your chances of success. Know that our consultants are there to support you in this endeavour!
This article was written by Reinoud Brenkman, Managing Consultant Life Sciences.
EIC Accelerator 2024 Guide
Our programme experts have assembled a concise, comprehensive overview of the programme, including the application and evaluation process for the new Open and Challenge Calls.
- Learn more about European Innovation Council in 2024
- EIC Pathfinder 2024 Programme Overview
- EIC Transition 2024 Programme Overview
- EIC Accelerator 2024 Programme Overview
- Official document: European Commission EIC Work Programme 2024