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European Innovation Council Launch event, Source: European Union

The European Innovation Council is officially launched

The European Innovation Council is officially launched

The iCapital Award starts accepting applications on 18 March, with a new category

Today, 18 March, saw the official launch of the European Innovation Council (EIC) - the most ambitious innovation initiative that Europe has taken until now. The Council is a key novelty of the new Horizon Europe programme, with a budget of 10 billion euros for the programming period of 2021-2027.

The iCapital contest returns with more strength

The EIC builds on a successful pilot programme under Horizon 2020 – the European Union’s research and innovation framework programme, that operated during the 2014-2020 programming period. For the past four years, the Council has provided financial support to over 5000 SMEs and start-ups, as well as over 330 research projects with a budget of 3.5 billion euros.

The Council, however, is a novelty on a global scale, believe from the Commission, as it combines research on emerging technologies with an accelerator programme and a dedicated equity fund - the European Innovation Council Fund. With a budget of 3 billion euros, the Fund is meant to scale up innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

The official opening of the EIC coincides with the publication of its first annual work programme presenting the funding opportunities which are to be offered throughout the year, with a total worth of 1.5 billion euros.

On top of the calls for project proposals, there will be two prizes -  for Women Innovators and the European Capital of Innovation (iCapital). The popular innovation contest for cities returns with a new category - The European Rising Innovative City that targets towns and cities with a population of more than 50,000 and less than 250,000 inhabitants.

Also, 495 million euros will be earmarked for breakthrough innovations for the European Green Deal and for strategic Digital and Health Technologies.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, commented on the occasion of the launch: “The European Innovation Council is Europe's most ambitious initiative to support the breakthroughs Europe needs to recover from the economic crisis and accelerate the transition to a green and digital economy. By investing in visionary research and innovative companies, it will reinforce European technological sovereignty, scale up hundreds of Europe's most promising start-ups, and pave the way for the upcoming European Innovation Area.”

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