European Innovation Council
The European Innovation Council (EIC) is part of the third pillar (Innovative Europe) of Horizon Europe. With the EIC, the European Commission is pursuing the objective of developing visionary, radically new, high-risk ideas of all kinds with a sustainable potential for change and introducing them to the market. Special emphasis is placed on technology-intensive innovations that have the potential to be adopted by new business fields and companies. It also aims to support the rapid, EU-wide and international expansion of innovative companies as they move from idea to market, especially SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and start-ups.
The EIC is thus aimed at basic scientists from universities and research institutions as well as at SMEs (including start-ups and spin-offs).
The EIC will be implemented primarily through three complementary types of actions, namely the EIC Pathfinder, which supports research in the early stages of technological development through Grants, and which builds heavily on the content of the FET Open as well as FET Proactive programmes already in place under Horizon 2020. The EIC Transition Actions, which act as a link between the EIC Pathfinder and the EIC Accelerator to support further development work and initial commercialisation steps. Furthermore, the EIC Accelerator, which, following on from the SME instrument in Horizon 2020, supports innovation and market launch measures as well as business growth - both through Grants and mixed funding from Grants and loans.
A budget of EUR 9.736 billion is available for the EIC's Calls and Funding instruments, around 10% of the total Horizon Europe budget.
Also part of the EIC are the Horizon Prizes EIC Fellowships and the EIC Business Acceleration Services, which are designed to provide access to various coaching and mentoring services for EIC participants.
The EIC was conceived by an initiative of the Commissioner for Research and Innovation Carlos Moedas in 2015. Building on this, the EIC has already been introduced under Horizon 2020 in several pilot phases (as EIC Pilot 2017-2019) and subsequently as Enhanced EIC Pilot (2019-2020).
The European Commission is supported in its work by the EIC Advisory Board, which advises the Commission on the strategic orientation of the individual EIC components, the research portfolios, the annual EIC Work Programme and the criteria for assessing the degree of innovation and the risk profile of the proposals submitted, among other things. It can also make recommendations on the consideration of emerging technologies from the EIC portfolio in other parts of the Specific Programme (e.g. Pillar II, EIT).
EIC programme managers play a central role in the implementation and realisation of the portfolio approach in the EIC. One of their tasks is to identify and coherently develop emerging, disruptive and market-creating technologies and services of potential strategic importance.