Bpifrance has been participating in the implementation of the Access4SMEs project since 2016.
Funded by the European Union, it aims to strengthen cooperation between National Contact Points (NCPs), information and advisory networks concerning funding opportunities under the European Research and Innovation Programme (Horizon 2020). The aim is to develop and strengthen these networks to improve and standardise access to these funding for businesses.
Bpifrance and its partners will continue the project under the name "Access2EIC" until December 2020. This name change is linked to the new context of the European Innovation Council (EIC), which is the successor to the SME Instrument scheme to better support breakthrough innovation and companies with high growth potential with grant, equity and non-financial support.
The main actions planned under this new project are the following: analysis of novelties and winning projects, training and exchange of good practices between stakeholders, online (through Bpifrance's EuroQuity platform) and face-to-face matchmaking events, and mentoring missions to local financial intermediaries on European financial instruments in countries where they are under-used.
A first training session was organised on 29 November in Helsinki at the premises of our partners Business Finland in the presence of some 40 National Contact Points, the European Executive Agency for SMEs "EASME", the European Commission and European evaluators.
The event focused on one of the components of the EIC, the Accelerator, whose objective is to help start-ups and SMEs deploy their breakthrough technologies in the market until they reach a development phase getting attractive to private investment. This support takes the form of grants, from EUR 500k to EUR 2.5m, and also since October, equity contributions of up to EUR 15m.
The objective of this event was to strengthen the capacity of participants to better advise companies in the preparation of their proposals. The key points on the agenda were the following: feedbacks from the first EIC Accelerator cut off, identifying best practices in EIC Accelerator proposals, the point of view of evaluators, the new Access2EIC Annotated template to guide applicants.
On this occasion, Véronique Jacq, Head of Digital Venture Team at Bpifrance, gave her point of view as an investor alongside Innovation Norway on the financial information requested from candidate companies.