EU awards €278m to help start-ups, SMEs

As a major novelty, 39 of these companies are set to receive both a grant and a direct equity investment

Photo: EPA Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel

The European Commission has selected 75 promising start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the largest funding round so far of the pilot phase of the European Innovation Council (EIC), worth more than €278m. The start-ups and SMEs selected for the EIC Pilot support in this round span across 15 EU Member States and 5 associated countries.

The selected companies are embarking into major innovations, such as creating the first global Internet of Things network using low-cost low-orbit satellites, producing sustainable fuel using organic material, or developing technologies powered by AI to transform the lives of patients with severe brain injuries.

As a major novelty, 39 of these companies are set to receive both a grant and a direct equity investment. Among the EU Member States France will host the maximum number of blended finance projects (6) and Germany will host the maximum number of grant-only projects (6).

“The future European Innovation Council will turn far more of Europe's world class science and start-ups to global technology leaders," Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, commented.

"This confirms that the European Innovation Council is filling a gap in funding, and that it is right to set it up as a fully-fledged initiative under the next EU budget,” she added.

The new type of “blended finance” of a grant and a direct equity investment will allow a much higher level of funding (up to €17.5m per company) to accelerate growth and help companies market ground-breaking innovations.

The Commission has also signed an agreement with the European Investment Bank Group to set up a dedicated EIC Fund to manage the equity investment. 

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