- The European Innovation Council (EIC) will receive an extra £131M (€150M) for startups funding.
- The EIC program is still at a piloting stage but is set to become a fully-fledged fund in 2021.
- Most potential investors were particularly interested in Covid-19 tech to help boost the healthcare system.
The European Innovation Council (EIC) is set to receive an additional £131M (€150M) following a surge in applications in the last couple of weeks. Over 1,000 small and mid-sized companies and startups tendered applications fronting possible ideas for dealing with Coronavirus. The usual number of applications for EIC calls also more than doubled.
The EIC task force director Jean-David Malo in a statement said: “We are seeing a lot of appetite and demand, it’s part of our DNA to be agile.”
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While the project is still at a piloting stage, sources indicate that plans are underway to see the program become fully funded from next year, with billions of pounds expected to be pumped into promising tech startups to nurture made-in-Europe multi-billion-pound unicorns.
Apart from EIC’s conventional grants, the body will also be looking to make direct equity investments in viable tech-based firms.
The council has been at the forefront of the fight against the negative impact of Covid-19 on the economy. Yesterday alone, EIC picked a total of 20 startups to pitch products that are critical in supporting health systems to fight the deadly virus. The event was graced by over 15 EU states, 50 health procurement bodies, Columbia and the UK, to listen to what each of the companies had to offer.
The pitches had been going on for over a week and by Thursday, the EIC announced more than 100 winning pitches, including one involving a sewer surveillance system capable of tracking the virus spread in waste water.
Demand for Covid-19 tech
Procurers in the health sector expressed concern over the need to have better protection equipment, faster testing tech, and an efficient means of managing the supply chain. The University Hospital Leuven in Belgium clinical biologist Johan Van Eldere said there was an urgent need to improve the supply chain of personal protective equipment.
“We are struggling to get necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and we are buying everything we can get our hands-on,” Eldere said.
A University Hospital Halle in Germany official also registered similar concerns.
“On the demand side, there is no general database for all hospitals. We don’t have a national health service. Every hospital is working on its own when it comes to databases. We need something that makes it easy to take [an] Excel [spreadsheet] and to share it,” stated the representative university.
Yesterday’s gathering ended with members scheduling one-on-one meetings to discuss possible procurement opportunities.