Bulgarian companies can benefit from free diagnosis of project ideas
The European Innovation Council (EIC) launched a pilot platform bringing together over 15,000 European, national and regional funding sources – Horizon 2020, LIFE, European Regional Development Fund, INTERREG and others.
What’s the purpose?
In contrast to the fragmented environment, implying a lengthy and too often complex process of identifying appropriate programs and procedures, “EIC AI” (https://accelerator.eismea.eu/login?ReturnUrl=%2F) represents a key step in changing the model, enabling Bulgarian and European companies to relatively easily find a financial mechanism that best meets their needs. At the heart of the platform is artificial intelligence, which makes it possible to carry out a detailed preliminary analysis of the technical and market readiness of the product, service or process being developed, within a strategic period (“minutes instead of days”).
The evaluation is synthesized in a report whose conclusions and recommendations can be used by the applicant in structuring the project proposal to increase the chances of success.
Who can benefit?
Access to the platform is free both for legal entities – scientific organizations, start-up companies, SMEs, etc. and for individuals who have an idea for a new product, service or process. Depending on the type of enterprise, the degree of innovation of the project solution, the requested financing and other key factors, an automatic selection of the potential opportunities at the European and national levels is made for each applicant.
Main functionalities of the platform
The platform consists of three modules: “Discovery”, “Diagnostic” and “Design”. While the first two can be used by a wide range of interested parties, the latter is primarily aimed at applicants under the European Innovation Council’s Accelerator Innovation Program (“EIC Accelerator”).
“Discovery”: The module brings together over 15,000 European, national and regional funding sources. Once the topic of the project has been introduced, for example, ICT, mobility, green energy, etc., the objective – research and development, investment in equipment and infrastructure, training, etc., the territorial scope and the type of support sought – grant, equity investment or loan, the platform provides a list of relevant programs and useful sources of information that the applicant can use to learn more about the requirements of the individual procedures.
“Diagnostic”: The next step involves the provision of basic information about the project idea – addressed the problem, degree of innovation, technological readiness level, target market, team, etc. The entered data allows the project proposal to be analysed in its entirety but also compared to existing competitive technologies (established on the market or in development) by using a database of scientific publications, patent registers and successful European projects. After finalising the analysis, the system generates a report assessing the technical and market readiness of the solution, as well as the structure and capacity of the project team. Although the obtained characteristic is indicative, it can be extremely useful for the applicants and serve as a guide for them – both in terms of the strengths and weaknesses of their idea and in the context of the market environment in which they will seek to realize the development answer.
“Design”: The final module is designed for applicants whose idea stands out as highly innovative and sufficiently meets the requirements of the Accelerator program. Built-in functionalities simplify the application process and assist potential beneficiaries in developing a high-quality business plan, which is subsequently evaluated by independent experts.
The accelerator is a highly competitive program designed for startups, small and medium-sized enterprises, mid-caps (up to 500 employees) or individuals who are considering registering a company. It supports the development and commercialisation of high-risk innovations – the need for significant funding over a long period before they start generating returns, which have the potential to create and/or transform markets in Europe and the world.
Proposed innovations may be from any field but must meet a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of at least 5 ie. technology validated in a relevant environment. Financing is in the form of a grant (up to 2.5 million euros), capital (up to 15 million euros) or mixed financing (grant and capital). The maximum funding intensity is 70% of eligible costs.
The application is made in two stages – project concept and full project review application. In case the short application is approved by the expert jury, the company/individual should prepare and present a complete project.
In addition to the Accelerator, entrepreneurs will be able to apply for the other two programs within the ESI – “Pathfinder” and “Transition”. “EIC Pathfinder” aims to support technologies at an earlier stage of development, and “EIC Transition” – to turn a promising laboratory technology into a mature and established innovation.