New funding opportunities within Horizon 2020 programme

Modernising Horizon 2020

The European Innovation Council (EIC) will be a new part within the European Horizon 2020 programme. In the conceptual Work-Programme 2018-2020, the plans for the coming years are drafted. Horizon 2020 has seen a large amount of success, but at the same time has been criticised over high entry barriers for new applications. Now, it is clear that Horizon 2020 is being moved into a new direction and made future proof by modernising it and placing further emphasis on ground-breaking innovations.

To this end, in addition to the existing components within Horizon 2020, the EIC programme will include two novel financial instruments: blended finance and crowdfunding (Science Business, 2017). In this article, we would like to inform you about these new funding opportunities, which are of importance to entrepreneurs as well as  academic researchers with very ambitious and innovative ideas. Besides, Hezelburcht gives some tips to facilitate you by applying for the (new) Horizon 2020 EIC funding instruments.

Please note that the final version of the EIC programme will be published in October 2017. Therefore, details are subject to change during the interim period.

Financial instruments | European Innovation Council

The EIC assembles all financial instruments that stimulate both development and innovation. These instruments focus on the development of ground-breaking innovations, which have the potential to create new markets, to raise employment and to stimulate the growth and the overall level of welfare in Europe. Importantly, within the EIC programme there are no theme restrictions. There is thus a bottom-up approach, meaning the programme is accessible for a broad range of projects, as long as the EIC requirements are met.

Blended finance and crowdfunding

In order to modernise the H2020 programme, the EIC is to start pilots for both blended finance and crowdfunding. Blended finance refers to the blending of diverse grants with loans and/or equity finance. The blended finance pilot will focus on supporting the scale-up of fast-growing and highly innovative SMEs and non-corporate enterprises. The crowd funding pilot will be used to investigate several potential crowdfunding constructions. The overall goal of the pilot is to stimulate creative breakthroughs due to which new markets arise.

Existing funding within H2020 moved to EIC

In addition to these new instruments, four already existing components within Horizon 2020 will be moved to the EIC program and will continue to fund innovative projects of ambitious entrepreneurs and researchers.

  • SME Instrument | For internationally orientated SMEs with radical and disruptive ideas which have the ambition to substantially grow. Entrepreneurs need to have a strong business case and need to offer a sellable product/service.
  • Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) | Focuses on complementary consortia of academic and industrial partners. With FTI, projects get financial support to scale-up and/or produce a product, service or process.
  • FET Open | Funds interdisciplinary collaboration projects which focus on the development of futuristic, radical technologies that will change the world for good.
  • Innovation Prizes | Presents prizes for ground-breaking, interdisciplinary and high-impact solutions, to tackle specific problems in society.

Tips from our funding experts

Are you an innovative entrepreneur or ambitious researcher and would you like to use one of the funding instruments described above?

  1. We recommend that you start early with the inventory of your funding needs. This might sound like a platitude, but in practice we have too often experienced rough estimates of funding needs, which are mostly insufficiently substantiated. Unsubstantiated projects nearly never make the cut.
  2. Moreover, we highly recommend drawing up an operation and liquidity budget for the project. By getting insight into the expected costs and sales, investors and/or financiers will realise that the project is thought out properly. This makes the funding process botch quicker and more fruitful. If you are not specialised in setting up these kinds of budgets, the funding experts of Hezelburcht can offer adequate support.
  3. In addition to the planning of funding, the planning of the actual writing of the grant application requires a timely approach. Please do not hesitate to contact Hezelburcht for more information or help with the application and/or coordination of the project.

The call text and procedure of the new financing instruments, blended finance and crowdfunding will be established in 2018. It is expected that the instrument will start in the first quarter of 2019. However, the budget for both 2019 and 2020 is not known yet. We will keep you informed.

Co-author: Mickey Mullers


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