Assessing Eligibility for Horizon Europe and the EIC Accelerator: A Crucial Step for SMEs


For startups and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) eyeing the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) Accelerator and Horizon Europe programs, assessing eligibility is a crucial initial step. Eligibility criteria, including qualifying as an SME and being incorporated in a country associated with Horizon Europe, are fundamental prerequisites that applicants must meet to be considered for funding opportunities like the EIC Accelerator.

Understanding the Eligibility Criteria

The EIC Accelerator, a significant part of the Horizon Europe framework, offers substantial funding, including blended financing, equity, and grants. However, to tap into these opportunities, businesses must first navigate the eligibility maze. The primary criteria include being classified as an SME according to the European Commission’s definition and being legally established in an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country.

The Importance of SME Status

Qualifying as an SME is more than just a size metric. It encompasses a broader understanding of the company’s structure and economic health. This classification ensures that the funding is directed towards organizations that genuinely need it and can utilize it for growth and innovation, aligning with the EU’s overarching goals of supporting smaller, innovative businesses.

The Need for Incorporation in Associated Countries

Incorporation within an EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country is a prerequisite that ensures alignment with EU policies and regulations. It fosters a sense of economic cohesion and ensures that the benefits of such funding contribute to the broader European innovation ecosystem.

The Role of Consultants and Professional Writers

Given the intricacies of the eligibility criteria and the complex nature of the application process, including the official proposal template and Technology Readiness Level (TRL) assessments, many organizations turn to professional writers, freelancers, and consultants. These experts can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the eligibility requirements, ensuring that all prerequisites are met before embarking on the detailed application process.


Assessing and ensuring eligibility under the guidelines of Horizon Europe and the EIC Accelerator is a vital first step for SMEs. It sets the foundation for a successful application, aligning the startup’s goals with the funding program’s objectives. SMEs must approach this step with diligence and, if necessary, seek expert guidance to navigate the complexities of the process. Meeting these foundational criteria paves the way for startups and SMEs to explore the vast opportunities offered by the EIC Accelerator and Horizon Europe, driving forward innovation and growth.

Rasph - EIC Accelerator Consulting