The European Innovation Council has awarded more than €307 million to what it calls 64 game-changing ‘green deal’ start-ups and SMEs, including several bio-based firms, contributing to the objectives of the European Green Deal Strategy and the Recovery Plan for Europe.
Winning proposals range from innovative solutions for the automotive, aerospace and maritime sectors to advanced materials or Internet of Things technologies.
More than one third of the selected companies are led by women CEOs, which is a big increase (tripling) of the number in previous EIC funding rounds. This increase reflects a pilot measure introduced for the first time in EIC funding which guaranteed at least a quarter of companies invited to the final interviews would have female CEOs.
The 64 startups and SMEs selected are based in wide range of countries, including 17 EU member states – seven of which are countries catching up in their R&I performance – making this the most geographically diverse EIC call so far.
Some of the bio-based companies include Belgium-based bioplastics firm B4Plastics, Polish firm Biotrem, which makes take-away packaging from wheat bran, and Spanish nanotechnology, PLA firm Advanced & Functional Technologies.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The European Innovation Council supports visionary entrepreneurs who create transformative solutions to pressing societal and environmental challenges, supporting the Green Deal and the recovery plan for Europe.
“These startups and SME are set to scale up, creating jobs and growth and giving Europe the global lead in green technologies and solutions. I am also proud of the increased inclusiveness with the greater numbers of women innovators and geographic spread across Europe.”
The results demonstrate the high demand for EIC ‘blended finance’, which combines grant and equity (38 companies, representing €182.6 million in equity investments). Equity investments are through the recently established EIC Fund managing equity stakes on behalf of the European Commission. All selected companies also benefit from exclusive business acceleration services opportunities to support rapid growth and scale.
In addition, the EIC awarded 562 “Green Deal” Seals of Excellence to startups and SMEs to help these companies access funding from other sources.
The European Innovation Council was launched by the European Commission in 2017 to support the commercialisation of high-risk, high-impact technologies in the EU.