Announcing the first equity investment through the European Innovation Council Fund

The European Commission has announced the first round of direct equity investment for science and development, worth €178m, through the new European Innovation Council Fund.

42 innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) will together receive equity investment for science and development to scale up breakthrough innovations in health, circular economy, advanced manufacturing, and other areas.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said: “Europe has many innovative, talented startups, but too often these companies remain small or relocate elsewhere. This new form of financing – combining grants and equity – is unique to the European Innovation Council. It will bridge the funding gap for highly innovative companies, unlock additional private investments and enable them scale up in Europe.”

The equity investments, ranging from €500 to €15m per beneficiary, complement the grant financing, which has already been provided through the European Innovation Council Accelerator Pilot to enable companies to scale up faster. This is the first time the Commission has made direct equity or quasi-equity investments, namely equity investment blended with a grant, in startup companies, with ownership stakes expected to range from 10% to 25%.

Under the European Innovation Council, a total of 293 companies have already been selected for funding worth over €563m in grants since December 2019. Among those, 159 companies have been selected to additionally receive the new equity investments from the fund. The 42 companies announced today are the first of this group to successfully pass the evaluation and due diligence process. The other 117 companies are in the pipeline to receive investments pending the outcome of the relevant process.

The first EU company to receive funding

The French company CorWave was the very first to receive a direct equity investment. CorWave’s mission is to bring a new standard of care to patients with life-threatening heart failure. The €15m EIC Fund investment has played a critical role by mobilising additional investors to unite behind the French SME, which led to a €35m of investments in the fourth stage of startup financing for CorWave.

This sizeable venture will enable CorWave to successfully bring to the market and scale up its innovative medical solution ‘Left Ventricular Assist Device’ (LVAD), which will significantly improve the lives of those with advanced heart failure, reducing severe complications and the need for rehospitalisation, while at the same time improving their quality of life. CorWave’s high-growth potential will also translate into high-quality jobs in the EU.

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