EU funding for Eco-innovative SMEs

Overview of 3 EU funding available for SMEs with innovations in the field of environment

You missed the EIC Accelerator “Green Deal” cut-off”? There are luckily other funding available for SMEs having developed innovations in the field of environment and who wish to bring their product to markets and to scale up. Nevertheless there are small differences between these funding streams which are shown in the table below.

Remember that:

  • Your project should be very innovative at a European Level.
  • All these funding streams are very competitive.
  • Double EU funding is not allowed. In particular, should you apply for both the EIC Accelerator and LIFE make sure that you indicate the EIC Accelerator application in your LIFE application because failing to do so could result in the rejection of your LIFE application.
  • Your local Enteprise Europe Network office can help you

Also check out

  • Our previous article about the opportunities through the EIT Raw Materials with an additional opportunity mentioned in our article about the EIT Crisis Response Initiative. See also
  • Our previous article with a more general explanation of the distinctions between LIFE and Horizon 2020.
  • NCPs CaRE EU Funding opportunities portal

Article republished with the kind authorization of NCP Brussels 

Programme Name LIFE Close to Market projects Horizon 2020 EIC Accelerator Eurostars
Next Deadline 14/07/2020 (concept note, full application in February 2021) 7/10/2020 3/09/2020
Eligible entities Open to any legal entities Only for for-profit SMEs R&D-performing SME as main partner

Universities or research organisations also eligible in support

Stage of development LIFE should not cover Research but can cover the innovation phase (pilot and demonstration phase) Objective is to bring the innovation to market
TRL 6 to 8 for the grant component
Equity possible for TRL higher than 8
Focus on R&D (TRL 4-7) but market introduction must be planned within 24 months of the project’s completion
Environmental focus Focus on Environment and Resource Efficiency, extra points for projects fitting priorities of the multi-annual work programme section 3.1. No, Open to all sectors (Green Deal cut-off was an exception) No, open to all sectors
Environmental Evaluation criteria Stronger focus on the environmental impact of the project, though the potential for commercialisation is also assessed. Focus on Excellent, Impact and Implementation, but broader impacts are assessed including the impact on the environment Focus on Excellent, Impact and Implementation
Partners LIFE allows for submitting the project with or without partners (international or local) but the EU added value is assessed. Applying with partners is not possible any more Need to find at least one partner in another country to cover 2 Eurostars countries. 

This brokerage event aims to help you find partners.

Cofunding rate 55% per project (Partners can decide their co-funding as they wish) 70% for the grant

It is also possible to apply for equity

Depend from your country
Time to grant About a year – start of Environment projects submitting for the 2020 call in Sept. 2021 5 months 4 to 7 months
Financial Capacity Requirement concerning financial guarantee requested for private entities existing since less than 2 years (cf. p18 of the evaluation guide). Funding for high risks high potential project. Financial Viability Check
Support Available during the project Dedicated support see this article Support for beneficiaries through the Enterprise Europe Network  Not specifically
Examples Cf. LIFE Project Database (select “SMEs” as beneficiary types)

For instance Smart In’Air

Cf. EASME Accelerator Data Hub for instance Envirolas cf. Eurostars website

For instance EFIRE

More information EASME Webpage LIFE

Check p.34 of the application guide for Environment and Ressource Efficiency

EASME Webpage EIC Accelerator Eurostars Website


Comments Specific measures in 2020 calls because of Covid19 A very competitive call Intergovernmental Funding programme, funding depends from your national/regional funding agency
National Contact Points Link Link (select “SME” for the function) Link