The Commission launches its new innovation program to boost the startup ecosystem in the EU

The Commission published on Tuesday (5 July) its new European innovation agenda, which sets out five main lines through which it will seek to stimulate investment in cutting-edge technologies and innovation within the EU.

Announced by Research and Innovation Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, the five areas include Talent Attraction, Policy Development and Addressing the Development Gap, and aim to foster a more supportive environment. comprehensive for startups in Europe.

“Innovation is a priority for the EU, so let’s be bold”said Ms. Gabriel. “We need to enable startups to cross the ‘valley of death’ in terms of funding so that they can grow and become leaders in their field. »

According to one stripe studypublished this week, startups generally consider the European innovation environment attractive due to factors such as availability of talent and geographic proximity to markets.

However, in terms of ease of operation, many consider that EU regulations cause unnecessary friction and impose significant administrative and compliance burdens on businesses, with 53% of respondents citing the time spent on this as the most great threat to their business.

The “scale-ups”

The first pillar of the plan, focused on financing “scale-ups” (startups that are already well established), aims to mobilize resources for startups deep tech who are looking to grow. While Europe is the fastest growing region in terms of private capital investment, the plan notes that the volume of early-stage technology companies and their funding are significantly lower than those of the United States and China.

The main EU body responsible for funding startups, the European Innovation Council (EIC), was launched as part of the Horizon Europe program last year, but has suffered numerous problems.

In particular, companies have experienced significant delays in receiving the funds granted to them. As a result, the troubled organization is now the subject of a parliamentary inquiry launched last month by Conservative MEP Christian Ehler.

The Commission is proposing several measures to free up additional capital to bridge the expansion gap between Europe and other regions.

These include the creation of a franchise for the reduction of debt-promoting tax incentives (DEBRA) on corporation tax, which the EU executive says would widen the availability and lower the cost of new equity for businesses, especially SMEs.

Before the end of the year, the Commission will also propose a listing law aimed at reducing listing requirements for certain companies in order to reduce costs and increase legal certainty for issuers.


The second action aims to create spaces for innovation and experimentation, in particular by creating regulatory sandboxes and test beds allowing innovators to develop disruptive technologies in a more wide range of sectors. For example, a new open innovation test bed in the field of renewable hydrogen will be launched by the Commission next year.

A new rule proposed in the framework for state aid for research, development and innovation would also allow EU countries to grant aid for the creation and improvement of innovation infrastructures, such as test and experimentation facilities.

Innovation ecosystems

As part of this plan, the Commission will also take steps to develop a pan-European innovation ecosystem comprising interconnected regional systems working on several projects related to deep tech.

Interregional collaboration between the most and least innovative areas will be partly financially supported by the EU, thanks to funding from Horizon Europe, which will lead to the designation of “regional valleys of innovation”.

The Commission will also create an AI-based platform, “Innospace”, for sharing knowledge, contacts and research results. A number of deep tech start-ups already working with the EIC or other EU programs will benefit from enhanced support to further develop their work.

Target new talent

The fourth action area of ​​the plan aims to cultivate, develop and retain the talents of the deep tech in Europe, primarily through the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which will expand its programs to target one million talents in EU Member States by 2025.

The EIT, in collaboration with the EIC, will also launch an innovation internship program next year, through which researchers and students can work in start-ups benefiting from EIC funding. Targeted programs will also seek to boost the participation of women in the sector.

These programs will build on the existing skills targets set by the Commission as part of the ‘Digital Decade’ objectives, aiming for 80% of the EU population to have basic digital skills and 20 million information and communication technologies (ICT) specialists have been trained by 2030. Concerns have however been expressed that the EU risks not achieving these objectives without a substantial and rapid scaling up digital development.

Policy development

The fifth and last pillar of the strategy concerns the creation of a policy framework more favorable to innovation.

Among the proposals made in this area are plans to develop common definitions and a stronger evidence base for policy and to strengthen the role of the European Innovation Council forum to facilitate the sharing of best practices and coordination policy innovation across the EU.

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The Commission launches its new innovation program to boost the startup ecosystem in the EU

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