The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) is supporting 24 start-ups whose projects have been selected in the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator 2021 calls for proposals. As Switzerland is currently not associated to Horizon Europe, the start-ups will receive a ‘SERI-funded EIC Accelerator Grant’ from the federal government. This direct funding will strengthen Switzerland’s role as a hub for innovation and help bring innovative solutions to societal challenges to the market.
Switzerland is currently considered a non-associated third country in the Horizon Package 2021–2027 (Horizon Europe, Euratom programme, Digital Europe Programme and the ITER research infrastructure). As a result, positively evaluated projects are not funded by the European Commission, but directly by the EAER/SERI.
This also applies to the Accelerator funding instrument of the European Innovation Council (EIC). In the 2021 calls, 24 project applications from Swiss start-ups were positively evaluated in the European Commission’s highly competitive selection process. These start-ups are developing solutions for societal challenges, for example:
- photovoltaics on cultivated land to optimise food production,
- software for energy-conscious and autonomous driving,
- optical and magnetic stimulation for healing chronic wounds,
- early detection of stored grain pest infestation using highly sensitive optical sensors.
- The majority of the projects already kicked off at the beginning of 2022. The EAER/SERI funding will boost the growth of the companies and accelerate their market entry.
Currently, Swiss start-ups cannot participate in the 2022 EIC Accelerator calls for proposals. The Federal Council therefore adopted transitional measures on March 4, 2022. Innosuisse will publish the corresponding ‘Swiss Accelerator’ call for proposals on April 1, 2022.
EIC Accelerator in Horizon Europe
The EIC Accelerator is the main instrument for start-up funding in the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe. This programme runs from 2021 to 2027 and, with a budget of over EUR 95 billion, it is the world’s largest research and innovation funding programme. Switzerland was associated to the predecessor programme Horizon 2020. The Federal Council is seeking the same status for Horizon Europe and related programmes and initiatives (Euratom programme, ITER and Digital Europe Programme).