European Commission calls on startups & SMEs to help with coronavirus outbreak

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

European Commission to fast track grants for start ups who can help coronavirus outbreak. Photo: European Commission
European Commission to fast track grants for start ups who can help coronavirus outbreak. Photo: European Commission

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The European Commission is calling on startups and SMEs with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing and monitoring the coronavirus outbreak to apply for the next round of funding from the European Innovation Council (EIC).

The deadline for applications to the EIC Accelerator is at 5pm ​today (March 18). 

Fast track

The EIC Accelerator supports entrepreneurs and small companies with funding and acceleration services that support the growth of a business.

With a budget of €164m, the Commission is looking to fast-track the grants and finance (combining grant and equity investment) to coronavirus relevant innovations.

“Are you an innovative, high-flying small or medium-sized business with European and global ambitions? Have you got an idea for an innovation that targets new markets and could boost the growth of your company? Are you looking for substantial funding to support you in the last stages of development?”​ asks the Commission. 

The EIC Accelerator pilot (SME Instrument) supports high-risk, high-potential small and medium-sized enterprises to develop and bring to market new products, services and business models that could drive economic growth​.

It is a pilot is for innovators with ground-breaking concepts that could shape new markets or disrupt existing ones in Europe and worldwide.​”

Select companies will receive business coaching to further develop their ideas, mentoring, networking with other EIC Accelerator pilot clients, co-investors and follow-up investors across Europe. 

As an SME Instrument client, applicants gain visibility to boost their chances of success in European and international markets.

EU Member States

According to the Commission, Europe 'needs more radical, market-creating innovations to improve productivity and international competitiveness and generate new jobs and higher standards of living’. 

The pilot is open to young companies and start-ups from any sector established in an EU Member State or a Horizon 2020 associated country.

Grant-only funding is provided (funding rate 70%) of between €0.5m and €2.5m.

Under the blended finance option, the grant component is limited to €2.5m combined with an equity component of up to €15m. Candidates can request a higher or lower amount when applying.

The EIC Accelerator pilot is a mono-beneficiary scheme. This approach has been taken so to pave the way towards a fully-fledged EIC Accelerator under Horizon Europe (where it is proposed to target individual entrepreneurs).

The EIC is already supporting a number of startups and SMEs with Coronavirus relevant innovations, awarded funding in previous rounds. This includes the EpiShuttle project​ for specialised isolation units and the m-TAP project​ for filtration technology to remove viral.

Infectious disease outbreaks are responsible for thousands of deaths globally. The travelling patterns of modern society further increase the health, economic and security risks associated with such outbreaks. 

Specialised Isolation Units (SIU) were developed by EpiGuard, comprising a group of medical doctors who laboured to contain Ebola infection. They came up with EpiShuttle  after three years of research – a one-person, hard-top (polycarbonate), reusable SIU. 

Under the EpiShuttle 2.0 initiative, EpiGuard combines modern gas disinfection with EpiShuttle to make its technology cost-effective and applicable for the wider global market worth billions of euros.

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