The European Commission announced this week that it has awarded over €278 million to 75 startups and SMEs through its accelerator pilot. The European Innovation Council (EIC) was founded in June to help entrepreneurs, small businesses, innovators and scientists scale their organisations internationally. To this end, the EIC launched an accelerator pilot, and this is its largest funding round so far. This is also the first time the Commission has offered blended finance, both grant and equity, which allows for larger funding amounts (up to €17.5 million per company). Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The future European Innovation Council will turn far more of Europe’s world class science and startups to global technology leaders. I am glad that this first offer of combined grant and equity financing saw such a high demand from Europe’s startups and SMEs. 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.” The selected companies hail from 15 member states and five associated countries, with France and Israel hosting the maximum number of blended finance projects (six each) and with Switzerland and Germany hosting the maximum number of grant-only projects (9 and 6 respectively). In addition to financial support, the startups and SMEs in the EIC Accelerator Pilot will have access to coaching, networking and business services. Necessary due for the equity investments will take place early next year. In the future, the EIC Fund will bring in co-investments and follow-up investments by private investors and others.
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