EU funding opportunities for SMEs in life science and health

Do you need funding for your SME? Are you aiming to commercialize your idea by founding a startup in the coming year? Or maybe you need to accelerate the development of your innovation to reach the market? Either way, EU funding might have open calls that will help you do just that! Of course, you can participate in large Horizon Europe calls in collaboration with academics, non-for-profits, large enterprises, and other SMEs, however, you may want to go for a smaller consortium or apply on your own.   

Pillar III – Innovative Europe: European Innovation Council (EIC)

European Innovation Council (EIC) under Horizon Europe (HE) programme allocates substantial funding for projects led by small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

EIC is Europe’s flagship innovation programme to identify, develop and scale up breakthrough technologies and game changing innovations. EIC has been established under the EU Horizon Europe programme. It has a budget of 10.1B€ to support game-changing innovations throughout the lifecycle from early-stage research to proof of concept, technology transfer, and financing and scale up of start-ups and SMEs. 

A unique feature of the EIC is that it provides funding for individual companies (mainly startups and SMEs) through both grants and investments. The investments currently take the form of direct equity or quasi-equity investments and are managed by the EIC Fund. EIC focuses on high-risk, high-reward innovation projects. SMEs with groundbreaking innovations can apply for grants and equity investments to support the development and scaling of their technologies and products. 

EIC calls are either Open calls which provides funding for projects in any field of science or technology, based on high-risk/high-gain science-towards-technology breakthrough interdisciplinary research. There are also pre-defined Challenges that are typically steered by an EIC Programme Manager. 

Different EIC instrument for different technology readiness levels

There are different funding instruments depending upon their technology readiness levels (TRLs) such as EIC Pathfinder, EIC Transition and EIC Accelerator (details below). Which of these you should apply for depend on the maturity level of your project? 

  • EIC Pathfinder should start at TRL 1-2 reaching TRL 3-4 by the end of the project
  • EIC Transition funds projects moving from TRL 3-5 to TRL 5/6
  • EIC Accelerator funds mature project that move toward commercialization (TRL 5-9).

EIC Pathfinder 

Support to research teams for further development of an emerging breakthrough technology. Applicants are typically visionary scientists and entrepreneurial researchers from universities, research organisations, start-ups, high-tech SMEs, or industrial stakeholders interested in technological research and innovation. Grants of up to 3 to 4 M€ support early-stage development of future technologies up to proof of concept. EIC Pathfinder projects can also receive additional funding for testing the innovation potential of their research outputs. 

Next deadline 16 October 2024

EIC Transition

EIC Transition Funds innovation activities that go beyond the experimental proof of principle in laboratory to support both, i) the maturation and validation of your novel technology in the lab and in relevant application environments, ii) the development of a business case and (business) model towards the innovation’s future commercialisation. 

EIC Transition projects should address both technology and market/business development, possibly including iterative learning processes based on early customer or user feedback. Grants up to 2.5M€ are available to validate and demonstrate technology in application-relevant environment and develop market readiness. Applications are restricted to previously funded EU projects.

Next deadline: 18 September 2024

EIC Accelerator

EIC Accelerator Funds high-risk start-ups and SMEs who are looking for private investors to develop and scale up innovations with the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing ones. You should have an innovative, game-changing product, service or business model that could create new markets or disrupt existing ones in Europe and even worldwide. EIC grant up to 2.5M€ and up to 15M€ of equity investments, coaching & mentoring, and networking is available.

The challenges for 2024 focus on Human Centric Generative AI, virtual worlds to support the realisation of Industry 5.0, enabling smart edge and quantum technology components, food from fermentation and algae, antibody-based therapeutics for viruses and renewable energy.

Next deadline: 3 October 2024

Eurostars & Sweden

A joint programme between the EU and EUREKA countries. It supports research-intensive SMEs in various sectors, including life sciences and biotechnology. In Sweden, Vinnova funds R&D costs for SMEs participating in the Eurostars programme and can cover up to 50% of project costs for SMEs. The maximum funding amount is a grant of 5 MSEK per project.

The consortium should be led by an innovative SME from a Eurostars country and be composed of at least two entities that are independent from one another and are from at least two participating countries with a minimum of one organisation from an EU or Horizon Europe Associated Country. The project duration is 36 months or less.

Next deadline: 12 September 2024

Your path to EU funding with Spinverse

Spinverse can help you in different ways if you are interested in EU funding not only in life science and health tech, but also within several other areas such as energy, manufacturing, smart cities & mobility, bioeconomy, ICT & electronics. Our services also include project management for those winning projects.  

  • Guidance in ideation & focus of the project scope to match the call needs.
  • Support in finding new partners with the right expertise to form a winning consortium.
  • Advice throughout the innovation value chain with call-specific details to enrich the value of the proposal.
  • Help to prepare a winning funding application.

Examples of life science projects with our customers: 

Take the first step towards securing your EU funding: Reach out to Spinverse today and let us help you unlock the potential of your project.

Rohit Sood,
Director and Team Leader for Health Tech, Ph.D. (Chem), MBA
+358 50 530 2863 (Finland)


Tina Verolin,
Senior Consultant, Health 
+46 73 509 7087 (Sweden)


More information:
EU Horizon Europe
EIC Fund