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Scaling medtech innovations and global market introduction: 4 key insights on the EIC Accelerator

January 28 2020

The biggest strategic challenge for medtech and eHealth companies is scaling up and ensuring uptake of their innovative products in care settings across Europe and the world. This critical phase can be expedited by learning from the experiences of others and by the European Innovation Council (EIC) Programme that supports innovators with dilutive and non-dilutive funding and acceleration services. In this item, we share medtech and eHealth specific key insights on where and how to leverage the EIC and its Accelerator Programme.

1) High risk, high gain SMEs 
The EIC and its Accelerator Programme aim to bring breakthrough concepts of small and medium-sized companies to the market, faster and bigger.  The programme focuses on concepts of the industrial leaders of the future that could shape new or disrupt existing markets. While the EIC Accelerator Programme is not specifically aimed at the medtech sector, this type of companies make a good case because of their inherent high risk, high gain profile and prominent scaling challenges. 

2) What can the instrument be used for?
The instrument aims to help companies generate fertile ground for the wide introduction and uptake of their products. The programme can be used to fund scale-up and validation activities such as large-scale manufacturing, advanced clinical trials, large-scale validation, addressing regulatory barriers, and tackling other aspects in the last stages of development. 
Within the EIC Accelerator you can apply for grants between €0.5 to €2.5M. The funding rate of 70% requires that 30% of the budget is provided by the applicant SME.
There is also a blended finance option where you can apply for up to €15M in dilutive financing. The 2020 total budget for this program is €600.99 million.

3) First check whether applying is worth for your company 
The competition for this instrument is extremely high: only 60-100 of 1800-2100 applications are granted each deadline (4x per year). It is therefore important to first carefully consider whether the EIC Accelerator is a good fit for your company.

  • Criteria: Will you be able to deliver and score high on all the following evaluation criteria? 
    • Impact: soundness and ROI of your scaling strategy
      Do you have a smart scaling strategy? Do you understand the (local) incentives of your end users and payers? Does your business model and pricing strategy fit global and local market dynamics? Do you have a clear and feasible scaling and commercialisation plan? Will you be able to convey a realistic and sound return on investment in the next 5-7 years? Do you have freedom-to-operate and strong underlying IP? If you are not sure or if you see specific gaps in your scaling strategy, make sure to get in touch for an evaluation and refinement of your plans.
    • Excellence: degree of novelty, degree of high-risk high gain 
      How will your project affect Europe and the market you are targeting, in terms of innovation capacity, competitiveness and citizen’s health? 
    • Quality and efficiency of implementation.
      What are the commercial and technical risks of your project and strategy? Do you have the right team to bring this innovation to the market? Why do you need public funding to develop your innovation? Do you have a realistic plan to make this a successful project?
  • Fit: Does the instrument fit well with your future cash / funding needs? 
    Compare your expenses and capital needs carefully with the expected throughput time of the program and the terms of payment. Projects should run for 12-24 months, ideally.
  • TRL: Are you at Technology Readiness Level 6 or beyond?
    Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) are indicators of the maturity level of particular technologies. This measurement system used by the European Commission provides a common understanding of technology status and addresses the entire innovation chain. There are nine technology readiness levels; TRL 1 being the lowest and TRL 9 the highest. Based on your technology readiness level (TRL) you may apply to either the grant, the equity or both. You can apply for a grant from TRL 6 to 8 and for equity when you are beyond TRL 8. Make sure to understand that in certain sectors and product categories, TRL 6 may not be sufficiently competitive.
  • Equity vs grants: Should you apply for equity or grant?
    Carefully consider whether the timing for equity finance is right (valuation!) and whether your other investors are up for it (dilution!).  Raising equity instead of grants does require certain trade-offs and can have major impact on your long-term prospects. 
  • Timing: When will you reserve the time for your application?
    Take considerable time for the application to be really successful; typically this takes 2-3 months.
  • Pitching in Brussel: are you available? 
    Make sure you are available (and eligible) to present your application in Brussels should you be invited. The dates for these pitches are pre-set. 

4) Suitability for life sciences and/or biotech products?
The same scaling up challenges and solutions apply to biotech and life sciences as for medtech and eHealth products. Therefore, the EIC Accelerator is also suitable for biotech and life science innovations, with the exception of therapeutics. In general, the EIC Accelerator has not proven particularly relevant for therapeutic development. Whereas drugs in preclinical stages (i.e. prior to first-in-human studies) are eligible for application, these tend to be evaluated as too risky by reviewers. In later stages (àfter first-in-human studies) the funding amount is insufficient for therapeutics. The advent of equity financing through EIC this year may change perspectives per case; make sure to get in touch for the latest insights.

What can ttopstart do for you?
ttopstart can support you by evaluation and refinement of your scaling strategy, checking eligibility and assessing your competitiveness. If you are competitive, we can help co-develop the application, challenge your assumptions and approaches, refine your business strategy through cross-sectoral and product life cycle insights. If you are not competitive or eligible yet, we can support you in your maturation towards the profile needed for EIC Accelerator, potentially through other grants, refined business strategies and corporate finance services

Application deadline: 
7 October 2020 17:00 CET

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