The innovation arena got a major new player when the European Innovation Council (EIC) was launched in March 2021 under Horizon Europe. Being designed to identify, develop and foster scaling up Europe’s breakthrough technologies the EIC has delivered first tangible results.

The EIC impact report documents the results and impact of the EIC pilot phase up to 2020. During that period, the EIC supported 5500 start-ups and SMEs which have:

  • Crowded in EUR 9.6 billion in follow on investments, primarily from Venture Capital, but also from corporates, national promotional banks and others.
  • Reached a valuation of around EUR 50 billion, including 91 “centaurs” (company valuation over €100m) and 2 “unicorns” (company valuation over EUR 1 billion).
  • An increasing number of women-led start-ups: of those awarded funding in 2020, over 20 percent have a female CEO, a doubling of the previous level.

The EIC Fund entered full operations in the first six months of 2021, which means investment decisions taken on 137 companies worth EUR 600 million. The first 24 direct equity investments of the Fund attracted co-investments by others funds worth € 395 million, which equals 2.7 times of the EIC Fund investment. EIC supported research projects have generated so far over 800 innovations. The majority of these projects include SMEs or other commercial partners.

The 218 start-ups awarded EIC funding in 2020, include 72 developing innovative solutions for COVID, at least 64 for Green Deal and at least 40 for digital technologies.

European Innovation Council impact report 2021: key numbers from the EIC performance (


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