New vision reveals policies for the European Innovation Council

15 May 2020

The Advisory Board for the European Innovation Council (EIC) has published the vision for the coming activities of the Council and its role in the European research and innovation system. The European Innovation Council is one of the most important new features in Horizon Europe, EU’s next research and innovation framework programme. The EIC grants funding for creating European research-based business and expanding it globally.

The EIC Advisory Board states in its vision that Europe must direct its investments towards supporting game-changing innovations to create a sustainable and human-centric digital future.

The vision emphasises that the EIC must have a significant enough budget to achieve the objectives and to attract private investors to join in funding the projects. The Advisory Board finds a minimum budget of 10 billion euros to be sufficient for the coming Horizon term. This was also the European Commission’s proposal. According to the vision, the EIC must support risk-taking and allow for failures in order to enable radical innovations.

The EIC Advisory Board behind the vision consists of European innovation experts, who advise the European Commission in the EIC’s strategic and operative decision-making. Mark Ferguson, an entrepreneur and a scientist from Ireland, chairs the 22-member Board. Marja Makarow, the director of Biocenter Finland and the former Vice President for Research at the Academy of Finland, is Finland’s representative.

The fully-fledged EIC will begin its operation as part of the coming Horizon Europe programme in 2021. However, there has been pilot funding available in the Horizon 2020 programme. The EIC is envisioned to become the hallmark of excellence for innovation similar to the European Research Council (ERC).

The EIC has two funding opportunities. The Pathfinder Pilot promotes radically new future technologies in the form of interdisciplinary research projects, which is a continuation for the EU’s former FET (Future and Emerging Technology) funding. The Accelerator Pilot supports start-ups and SMEs in developing and upscaling their breakthrough innovations and becoming desirable investments also to private investors.

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