The European Working Group of Innovation Consultants (EWGIC), in which Euronovia actively participates, has released recommendations on the EIC Accelerator programme, deeply affected by the unprecedented crisis linked to COVID-19.
COVID-19: the EIC Accelerator on the edge of breaking down
The last EIC Accelerator call closed in March 2020. The deadline was postponed by 2 extra days so that companies could submit their proposals addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the available budget for SMEs remained unchanged, while the number of proposals more than doubled: 4,000 projects were submitted, while the EIC receives around 1,800 applications on average. As a consequence, the success rate for these proposals is estimated at only 1%.
In this context, could COVID-19 “kill” the EIC Accelerator? Or will the EIC Accelerator be the medical ventilator of distressed European SME champions? Only time will tell… EWGIC believes this challenge can still be reversed.
Three main challenges for the EIC Accelerator
EWGIC has highlighted three main challenges to address:
- Oversubscription, i.e. the influx of applications for funding, will have serious adverse effects on the programme unless the effort is made to increase budgets or curb the number of submissions,
- Evaluation criteria must be clarified to ensure fair treatment of all proposals,
- Running EIC projects must be protected, with additional pre-financing and simplified periodic reporting.
EWGIC calls for the creation of an “EIC Airdrop
On 7 April 2020, EWGIC published a position paper which calls on the EU Parliament and European Commission to take immediate action along with the Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME). The central recommendation: upgrading the EIC Accelerator to an “EIC Airdrop” in order to keep funding start-ups and innovative SMEs deeply affected by the current crisis.
In this unprecedented context, the EWGIC suggests the rapid implementation of concrete recommendations concerning the EIC Accelerator for start-ups and innovative SMEs:
- Increase budgets, limit the number of submissions, and clarify the rules of participation,
- Provide detailed guidelines and case studies to evaluators, review the “non-bankability” criteria and assess evaluators,
- Simplify and accelerate administrative procedures and the appraisal of the selected projects, simplify reporting methods and propose additional pre-funding,
- Open an additional EIC Accelerator call for proposals between May and October 2020, as well as a specific budget for COVID-19 related projects.