In the past year, the Commission has invested EUR 226 million through the European Innovation Council pilot and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology to support innovative start-ups, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and projects to develop solutions in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing crisis. Many of these companies and projects have already generated promising results.
Innovations such as reusable, self-cleaning masks, an antibody platform to treat severe cases of infection and devices that can monitor patients remotely have addressed the immediate impact the pandemic has had on society.
The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges that require innovative ideas. The rapid investments to innovative start-ups and projects through the European Innovation Council and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology have unlocked a range of breakthrough ideas to tackle the crisis and to speed up European and global recovery.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
The support from the European Innovation Council pilot and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology is part of the Commission’s pledge to the Coronavirus Global Response, the global action for universal access to affordable coronavirus vaccination, treatment and testing launched by President Ursula von der Leyen. The Commission has pledged EUR 1.4 billion to the global call for action, of which EUR 1 billion comes from Horizon 2020 to help develop vaccines, new treatments and diagnostic tools.
European Institute for Innovation and Technology
The EU allocated EUR 60 million to 62 innovative projects and 145 start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs, through the EIT Crisis Response Initiative. This investment was mobilised by Europe’s largest innovation network to tackle the unprecedented social and economic challenges that the pandemic created. It resulted in concrete support for innovators and ventures working in health, climate change, digitalisation, food, sustainable energy, urban mobility, manufacturing and raw materials.
European Innovation Council
In mid-2020, the EU quickly allocated EUR 166 million to 36 start-ups and SMEs through the European Innovation Council, for the development of innovative solutions to tackle the outbreak, including equity investments through the new European Innovation Council Fund (EIC Fund). In addition, the European Innovation Council coordinated the #EUvsVirus Hackathon, which connected over 30 000 participants representing civil society, innovators, partners and investors across Europe resulting in 120 innovative solutions to coronavirus-related challenges. The winners were invited to a “Matchathon” in May 2020 to help mobilise financing from businesses, investors, accelerators, and venture capitalists and generated 2 235 new partnerships.
The European Innovation Council in cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB) pledged additional financing of around EUR 400 million to COVID-19 actions under the InnovFin Infectious Diseases Financial Facility. Nearly EUR 200 million of this amount have already been mobilised.
One year on: How European support is helping innovators develop solutions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic
On Wednesday 10 March, the European Innovation Council and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology organised an online event opened by Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. Rewatch the event 'One year on: How European support is helping innovators develop solutions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic' at the link below:
The Commission has been at the forefront of supporting research and innovation to fight the coronavirus outbreak and coordinating European and global research efforts, including preparedness for pandemics. It has pledged EUR 1.4 billion in total, of which EUR 1 billion comes from Horizon 2020 and is directed towards the development of vaccines, new treatments and diagnostic tools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. So far, over EUR 818 million have been mobilised. These efforts build on several past and ongoing research actions related to coronaviruses and outbreaks that address epidemiology, preparedness and response to outbreaks, the development of diagnostics, treatments and vaccines, as well as the infrastructures and resources that enable this research.
As mentioned above the Commission also reinforced access to risk finance for InnovFin Infectious Diseases Financial Facility funded under Horizon 2020 and implemented by the European Investment Bank, with a pledge of EUR 400 million. This enabled the European Investment Bank to support more key players developing innovative vaccines candidates, drugs, medical and diagnostic devices and novel critical research and innovation infrastructures, including production facilities. Notably, the European Investment Bank and BioNTech signed a EUR 100 million financing agreement for the development and large-scale production of vaccines, which helped accelerate the development of the first coronavirus vaccine placed on the market. Furthermore, the European Investment Bank and CureVac signed a EUR 75 million financing agreement to accelerate the development and large-scale production of the company’s coronavirus vaccine candidate.