Pillar 3 - Innovative Europe

This pillar will focus on scaling up breakthrough and market-creating innovation through a new European Innovation Council (EIC) as well as activities aimed at enhancing and developing the overall European innovation landscape. It will also include support to the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

What will be funded under Pillar III?

Pillar III aims to foster all forms of innovation, including breakthrough innovation, and market deployment of innovative solutions.

The European Innovation Council will build on the success of the Enhanced EIC pilot in Horizon 2020 and will serve as a ‘one-stop shop’ for European innovators. It will channel funding through two main instruments:

  • Accelerator – this instrument will bridge the financing gap between late stages of innovation activities and market take-up to effectively deploy breakthrough market-creating innovation and scale up companies.
  • Pathfinder – building on the success of the FET Open scheme this instrument will support future and emerging breakthrough technologies.

At the end of June 2020, the EIC Advisory Board published a report entitled "A Vision and Roadmap for Impact" which presents a roadmap for establishing the fully-fledged European Innovation Council in Horizon Europe. The document sets out the steps the Commission should take to fully establish the EIC and makes a number recommendations, which are in-line with the Commission's proposal to establish the EIC as a more formal structure under Horizon Europe.

European Innovation Ecosystems will connect with regional and national innovation actors and support the implementation of joint cross-border innovation programmes by Member States and Associated Countries, enhancing soft skills for innovation in addition to other types of research and innovation actions. Actions will complement the ERDF support for innovation eco-systems and interregional partnerships around smart specialisation topics.

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) will continue to fund existing Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), whilst looking to establish new KICs in emerging priority areas, which will help to strengthen sustainable innovation ecosystems across Europe. The Institute will also foster the development of entrepreneurial skills and innovation via a ‘lifelong learning perspective’ and support the entrepreneurial transformation of European universities. Finally, the EIT will also bring new solutions for global societal challenges to the market, thus contributing to the objectives of the ‘Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness’ pillar.