The future of the EIC Accelerator
The European Innovation Council (EIC) was launched to support breakthrough technologies and game changing innovations, within the third pillar of Horizon Europe. Through “blended finance” the EIC combines grant and equity in a holistic support package. In this way, the EIC was set up to go through with risky investments with swift funding, since those types of investments are lacking in Europe. Now, the European Commission is looking to restructure the successful formula from the pilot.
The Commission wants to transfer the ownership of the EIC fund to an external investment fund manager. The reasoning behind this move to indirect management is based on a reduction of risk and liabilities for the Commission.
The interim solution, enacted through a Commission Decision on 29 September, determines the new governance structure in the EIC. In this new structure, the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA) will continue to manage the grant component, whereas the European Investment Bank (EIB) will conduct due diligence and issue an advisory opinion on the equity component that will support the final investment decision by the investment fund AlterDomus. One of the new elements in the interim solution is that the Single Award Decision is delegated from the College of Commissioners to DG RTD; this is expected to significantly reduce the approval time in the EIC Accelerator.
The proposed long-term solution will mirror the interim solution to a great extent with a few notable changes: (i) end of direct management by the Commission; and (ii), EIB will replace DG RTD in key management structures in the EIC and will have a dual role as both investor of record and advisor. The external fund manager will continue to make the investment decisions for the equity component in the long-term solution, whereas EISMEA will continue to manage the grant component.
The European Parliament represented by MEP Ehler is calling on the Commission "to sit down with the EIC board and legislators to find a long-term management model that ensures the Accelerator runs smoothly". Scince Business writes "unless these doubts are addressed, Ehler said he will continue to push for the Accelerator’s proposed €811 million funding for 2023 to be frozen".
NorCore took part in an informal meeting with a representative from the European Parliament to discuss the development. Several Norwegian companies, approved for EIC blended finance in 2021, are affected due to delays related to this restructure.