European Union offers innovators €314m to support COVID-19 recovery

Drawing from the European Innovation Council (EIC) and Horizon 2020, The European Union has awarded €314m to innovators that intend to aid Europe’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost €166m from the EIC and over €148m from Horizon 2020 will be granted to companies set to contribute to Europe’s COVID-19 recovery plan, bringing the total investment to €314m.

“The enormous talent and breakthrough ideas of innovative European companies give us hope. Our increased support to the European Innovation Council will unlock their potential so that we can better tackle the coronavirus and support our recovery. The EIC responded quickly to the coronavirus crisis and demonstrated the agility and impact of EU funding,” said Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

The EIC aims to support to COVID-19 based breakthroughs as part of the European effort to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. On 4 May, the Commission hosted a Coronavirus Global Response pledging event, raising €9.8bn so far. The Commission pledged €1.4bn during this pledging event, €1bn of which comes through Horizon 2020.

Innovation in the face of global disaster

The European Union has selected 36 companies to work on innovative projects, such as on expanding the creation of ventilation monitoring systems, bio-decontamination wipes and developing an antibody platform to treat severe cases of infection.

To support Europe’s COVID-19 recovery plan, companies will work across a myriad of sectors and projects to reduce industry cost and promote sustainability in Europe. These projects include the development of stronger and taller wind turbine towers made from wood modules, organic fertiliser production system, and a blockchain-based solution for sustainable recycling practices of manufacturers.

Due to funding limitations, many companies could not receive financial support from the European Union. These companies have received the newly introduced COVID-19 Seal of Excellence, in recognition of the value of their proposal. The COVID-19 Seal of Excellence was designed to help these companies attract support from other funding sources.

According to the European Union, a record number of start-ups and SMEs applied to the EIC Accelerator pilot in March, over 1400 of the proposed projects were relevant to the fight against COVID-19.

The increased number of applicants influenced decision makers to offer over an additional €148m from Horizon Europe, bringing the combined total to over €314m. The start-ups and SMEs selected for support come from 16 countries, including 12 EU Member States, the UK and 3 associated countries.

Funding background

The EIC supports innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and scientists with funding opportunities and support. Around €3bn of EIC funding distributed between 2018 and 2020 to fund some of the most talented innovators and help companies expand beyond European boarders.

On 18 March, the EIC closed their most recent window for funding applications. Since its introduction in mid-2019, the EIC Accelerator pilot has offered the option of direct equity investments of up to €15m and addition grant support of up to €2.5m.

The EIC will go on to become a full-fledged reality from 2021 under the next EU research and innovation programme Horizon Europe with a proposed €10bn budget. It will build on the structure of the EIC under the Horizon Europe proposal to fast track disruptive and market-creating innovation.

Following Horizon 2020’s success, Horizon Europe aims to keep the EU at the forefront of global research and innovation, as one of the most ambitious research and innovation programme ever created by the European Commission. Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Horizon 2020 is one of Europe’s biggest success stories. The new Horizon Europe programme aims even higher.”

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