EIC – Enhanced European Innovation Council Pilot

European Innovation Council

The EIC pilot supports top-class innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and scientists with bright ideas and the ambition to scale up internationally.
It brings together the parts of Horizon 2020 that provide funding, advice and networking opportunities for those at cutting edge of innovation.
With this aim, for the period 2019-2020 of Horizon 2020, the European Commission published on 30 April 2020, the updated version of the Work Programme called the enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot.

This pilot aims to test a range of tools and mechanisms that will be more fully implemented in the future Horizon Europe 2021-2027. The budget allocated is about 2 billion euros for the pilot 2019-2020.

Within the Work Programme we find a series of already existing tools and some novelties, aimed at facilitating the transition from basic research to demonstration and validation in the real environment and the commercialisation of the results of research and innovation projects themselves.



The EIC pathfinder pilot has as its target cutting-edge high-risk collaborative projects that explore new technological paradigms in order to develop radical and innovative technologies that can create new markets or support social challenges through new technologies.

This includes calls previously funded under Future and emerging Technologies: the FET-Open and FET-proactive. FET-Open aims to mobilise Europe’s most creative and forward-looking researchers from all disciplines in order to work together to identify what will be the technological paradigms of the future. FET-proactive identifies future and emerging technological paradigms with the highest potential for the European economy and society.

FET Innovation Launchpad aims to identify market opportunities, define new business models, develop a first business plan for innovative technologies resulting from previous projects funded in the FET and EIC pathfinder Pilot and exploit the results of a project that is developing visionary and disruptive technologies.
EIC Transition to Innovation activities aims to collaborate in the development, validation and prototyping of new technologies, analyses business opportunities, define business models for marketing and develop relationships with potential buyers and/or venture capital investors.

The updated version of the Work Programme called the enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot (30 April 2020) introduced different novelties:
innovated the deadline of calls FETPROACT-EIC-07-2020 and FETPROACT-EIC-08-2020, opening next 26 March and with deadline next 2 July 2020

  • increase of the budget dedicated to the two different calls, in particular: FETPROACT-EIC-07-2020: 56 M euro, of which 12 M necessarily for the individual Scopes a.; b.; c.
  • FETPROACT-EIC-08-2020: 18 M euro
  • substantial revisions in the topic FETPROACT-EIC-07-2020 with scope insertion b. breakthrough zero-emissions energy storage and conversion technologies for carbon neutrality and substantial revision of the other previously published brooms
  • substantive revisions of the text of the FETPROACT-EIC-08-2020 notice compared to the previously published version.


Specifically the Accelerator (former SME instrument) is dedicated to companies and start-ups with a strong innovative vocation, with the aim of accelerating their growth processes on European and global markets (scaling up).

Main changes introduced are:

  • Phase 1 SME Instrument has been discontinued, the final deadline for applications has been 5 September 2019
  • New financing option, an equity component, has been integrated in the current Phase 2 SME Instrument (EIC Accelerator), starting from October 9th 2019. From this deadline the funding has been provided in the form of grant only, or blended finance (combining grant and equity)
  • Starting from the 9 October 2019 single beneficiary only (a single company, not a consortium) can apply for Phase 2/EIC Accelerator

The updated version of the Work Programme Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot (30 April 2020) introduced different novelties as for example:

  • A one-off EIC Accelerator call for ‘green deal’ start-ups and SMEs is expected, whereby all applicants submitting for the 19 May ’20 cut-off will need to demonstrate how their innovation contributes to the goals of The European Green Deal. The 7 October ’20 cut-off for the EIC Accelerator Pilot will remain open to all innovations.
  • Additional opportunities for companies with women CEOs (or equivalent positions) is also expected, to ensure 25% of all finalists in the EIC Accelerator Pilot are women-led companies. If, following the first-round remote evaluation, a minimum of 25% of companies selected for the final-stage interviews are not led by women, additional interviews will be scheduled.