42 start-ups involved in the science and technology industries are set to receive a welcome investment boost from the EU’s European Innovation Council (EIC) as part of a drive to boost Europe’s international standing in these fields.
The EIC will be investing a hefty €178 million in total, taking stakes of 10% – 25% for each company. This is significant news for anyone with knowledge of the EU’s role in funding ground-breaking science and innovation. Traditionally, the union’s funding bodies such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments have limited their offerings to loans, grants or guarantees rather than direct investments. In other words, they have taken a backseat in deciding how allocated funding is actually invested.
The recent decision to switch to equity investments is borne of the fact that Europe has failed to translate its pioneering scientific endeavours into commercial accomplishments in recent years. Faced with a tough economic environment, start-up companies have been finding it difficult to secure the venture capital needed to grow and thrive.
It is anticipated that the EIC’s direct investments will change this stagnant commercial environment, helping to attract investment and mitigate the risks that inhere within any new business venture.
2021 is a big year for the EIC as Horizon Europe – its billion-euro research programme – gets up and running. As part of the programme, the organisation expects to make more direct investments in promising science and technology firms through to 2027.
How start-ups can secure funding
Start-ups can apply for a simple grant or a blended option of support, grant and equity. It should be noted, however, that while the pool of money available for budding start-ups is generous, the selection process is set to be very competitive.
The first step involves making an initial application to the EIC, who will go on to identify the most promising start-ups from the funding round. CEOs who make it past this initial step will then be invited to an interview panel of six experts in the fields of technology, law and investment.
The panel will pass their recommendations over to the EIC regarding which start-ups are worthy of funding and another panel – this time made up of investment experts – will recommend how much money each of the selected businesses deserve. The EIC will then confirm their decisions based on the advice of experts.
If you’re heading a start-up and are looking to take advantage of the EU’s new investment drive, you should note that the grant process is set to change as Horizon Europe gets up and running. The precise nature of the changes is still being negotiated, but rest assured that the future for promising new scientific ventures is looking bright.
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