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EIC Accelerator: common characteristics of the EIC winners

By Sara Gavidia

Some people are born with a thirst for challenges that make them strive for ambitious goals. These people are actually the ones who bring progress and innovation to the world, the so-called entrepreneurs. They usually have ambitious goals and search for worthy challenges that can boost their businesses, so they may look for accelerator programs. And when it comes to business challenges to support companies, there is nothing like the EIC Accelerator.

What is the EIC Accelerator?

The EIC Accelerator is the main instrument promoted by the European Commission whose aim is to boost tech startups that belong to Horizon Europe associated countries or to the European Union. Its focus is on high-risk high-impact projects, and it provides grants, convertible loans and equity investments. Nonetheless, its process is highly selective, for the success rates range from 2-6 % across Europe.

Consequently, companies willing to apply for this Accelerator program may wonder what they need to have to succeed. Unfortunately, there is not an infallible formula nor a closed answer, but some reliable data about the common characteristics of the EIC winners that may shed some light on this matter.

Common characteristics of the EIC winners

Figure 1

There are plenty of fields where companies can develop their business models. Within the industry focus of the EIC, we find some of them such as agriculture, tourism, health, ICT, food, manufacturing, or chemical industry; however, only three of them are the most successful ones.

Most awarded industries

According to the EIC impact report, the following industries and subareas are the most awarded ones: digital (AI, Cloud, Big Data, ML), green (precision farming, sustainable food, nutraceuticals, secure food chain), and health (patient care & telemedicine).

This information may not come as a surprise since Information Technology is currently one of the most powerful industries in the whole world, the green industry is also becoming more and more important, and health is simply indispensable. Nevertheless, it might be useful to know which subareas are currently on top- and which aren’t. In the list of the awarded subareas but with a lower rate of success, we find industry 4.0, technologies to reduce air pollution, and cell biology and microbiology.

Size and age of companies

In addition, it is important to highlight that most of the companies supported by the EIC are young ( they are less than five years old), and small. From 2014 to 2020 most of the winners were micro-enterprises (1-9 employees), but in 2021 most of them were small enterprises (1-49 employees). However, they all showed a high growth potential, which is essential to be selected. 

Stage of the companies

Figure 2

Another characteristic that has changed in the last year is the stage of the companies. From 2016-2020 most of the total funding raised by EIC winners belonged to Series A investments (4-15M€), but in 2021 most funding corresponded to Series C investments (40-100M€). Since 2019, EIC winners are also closing megarounds (rounds of +100M€).

Overall, these are the main characteristics of the EIC winners from previous years. It is true that it may eventually change, but so far the tendency is quite clear. It is important to highlight that applicants should not feel discouraged because of the low number of awarded companies, but be as prepared as possible to demonstrate that their technology deserves to be one of them.

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