Brussels, Mar 19: Ahead of the 21-22 March European Council discussion on innovation, industry and competitiveness, the European Commission takes decisive steps to set up a European Innovation Council (EIC).
Global competition is intensifying and Europe needs to deepen its innovation and risk-taking capability to compete on a market increasingly defined by new technologies, according to an EC statement.
That is why the Juncker Commission is introducing a European Innovation Council to turn Europe's scientific discoveries into businesses that can scale up faster. Currently in its pilot phase, the European Innovation Council will become a full-fledged reality from 2021 under the next EU research and innovation programme Horizon Europe.
The Commission launched in 2017 the pilot phase of the European Innovation Council, introducing open competitions and face-to-face interviews to identify and fund Europe's most innovative start-ups and SMEs. Since then, 1276 highly innovative projects have already benefitted from an overall funding of over €730 million.
Today the Commission announces important steps that will ramp up the remaining two years of the pilot phase of the European Innovation Council : Over €2 billion of funding in 2019-2020: covering the innovation chain: “pathfinder” projects to support advanced technologies from the research base (opens tomorrow); and “accelerator” funding to support startups and SMEs develop and scale up innovations to the stage where they can attract private investment (open in June). Under the “accelerator” funding companies will be able to access blended financing (grants and equity) of up to €15 million.
The Commission will appoint 15 to 20 innovation leaders to an European Innovation Council Advisory Board to oversee the European Innovation Council pilot, prepare the future European Innovation Council, and champion the European Innovation Council globally. Innovators from across the ecosystem are invited to come forward by 10 May.
The Commission will recruit a first set of “programme managers” with leading expertise in new technologies to provide full-time, hands-on support for projects. The call for recruitment will be published shortly.
Also today, the Commission announces 68 additional startups and SMEs selected for an overall funding of €120 million under the existing European Innovation Council pilot. The companies are for instance developing a blockchain-based online payment technology, new energy efficient screens and a solution to fight traffic noise (breakdown of beneficiaries per country and sector).
Given the growing economic importance of breakthrough and disruptive innovation, and based on the early success of the European Innovation Council pilot, the Commission has proposed to dedicate €10 billion to the European Innovation Council under Horizon Europe, the EU research and innovation funding programme for 2021-2027. UNI