In addition to the presentations about the new funding opportunities and practical information on calls for proposals, the event included a panel discussions on plans and expectations regarding the EIC attended by EC representatives, Ádám Szigeti, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology and Dr István Szabó, Deputy President of the NRDI Office.
Through its new funding schemes, the European Innovation Council (EIC) supports breakthrough innovation with great business potential and growth prospects with over EUR 2 billion in the following two years.
- The Pathfinder programme provides up to EUR 4 million funding to international consortia for proof-of-concept and early-stage development projects. Research projects may focus either on a priority EU topic (Human-centric AI, Implantable autonomous devices and materials, Breakthrough zero-emissions energy generation for full decarbonisation etc.) or on a freely chosen topic.
- The Accelerator programme offers EUR 1.3 billion in total to ramp up the near-market innovation projects of SMEs in any thematic field. Close-to-market innovation projects with high growth prospects may receive up to EUR 2.5 million in non-refundable funding at 70% funding intensity. Projects involving market introduction and scale-up activities can apply for blended finance (combining grant and equity). In addition to the grants, the programme also facilitates business success with services, such as coaching, mentoring, networking, investor meetings and participation in exhibitions outside Europe).
These pilots are partly built on the SME Instrument of the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework programme, which enjoys great popularity among Hungarian SMEs wishing to expand into the international market. Although there is fierce international competition for the funds and only the most promising projects can win, Hungarian companies are among the top performers (along with the Poles) in the Eastern European region, with over HUF 9 billion of awarded funding in total. The significance of the call is clearly indicated by the spectacular increase in the annual budget, rising from EUR 253 million in 2014 to EUR 689 million in 2019.
“As part of its portfolio of services, the NRDI Office provides information to potential applicants about all funding opportunities, including EIC grants, through its experts specialising in the individual areas of the Horizon 2020 programme,” Dr István Szabó highlighted at the panel discussion. H2020 National Contact Points not only provide up-to-date information but also free advice and consultation to applicants.