Action pour le climat

First Innovation Fund call for small-scale projects: 232 applications for the EUR 100 million EU funding for small clean tech projects


In response to the first Innovation Fund call for small-scale projects with capital expenditure between EUR 2.5 and EUR 7.5 million, the European Commission received 232 applications for innovative clean tech projects in renewable energy, energy-intensive industries, energy storage, and carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS).

The number of applications per sector(1) is:

  • about 125 for energy-intensive industries, including CCUS, out of which around a third in hydrogen and around a sixth in bio-refineries
  • about 60 for renewable electricity and heat, out of which almost half in solar energy
  • about 50 for energy storage

Applications come from projects to be implemented in all Member States, Iceland and Norway and the proposed projects have requested a total of more than EUR 1 billion, 10 times more the available budget.

Compared to the applications to the first large-scale call, this call attracted fewer applications from energy-intensive industries and carbon capture, use and storage, but more applications from the renewables and energy storage sector.

The funding of projects under this call will help boost to the EU’s green recovery, deliver on the EU climate goals under the European Green Deal and reinforce European technological leadership on a global scale.

Mauro Petriccione, Director-General for DG Climate Action, said: ‘After the great interest in the Innovation Fund large-scale call, we are continuing on the same path with the call for small-scale projects. The applications show the potential for clean tech innovation from all sectors where companies of all sizes, from start-ups to global corporations, are looking to deploy low-carbon innovative solutions across Europe. This confirms the impressive interest of businesses in investing in the green recovery and shows that the transition to climate neutrality is very high on the boardroom agendas, whether in large established firms or in smaller specialised companies and start-ups’.

The emphasis of the call was on innovative yet mature technologies deployed at smaller scale. It focused on truly innovative projects that are ready for commercial deployment, for instance delivering installations to a customer in a new market segment, as well as products that substitute carbon-intensive ones, net carbon removal innovations and direct air capture.

Next steps:

The first call for small-scale projects closed on 10 March 2021. The next step is to check the admissibility and eligibility of all submissions. Proposals that fulfil the admissibility and eligibility conditions will be evaluated by external evaluators against the award criteria.

Applicants will be informed about the results of the evaluation in August 2021 and the successful ones will be invited to start the grant preparation process. The grants will be awarded in the end of 2021. Rejected proposals that have the potential to improve their maturity may be invited for project development assistance provided by the European Investment Bank.

Further calls for proposals, one for large-scale and one for small-scale projects, are planned to be launched later in 2021.


Funded by revenues from the auction of emission allowances from the EU’s Emissions Trading System, the Innovation Fund aims to create the right financial incentives for companies and public authorities to invest now in the next generation of low-carbon technologies and give EU companies a first-mover advantage to become global technology leaders.

The Innovation Fund will be implemented by the Executive Agency for Networks and Innovation (INEA), while the European Investment Bank will provide project development assistance to promising projects that are not yet market ready.

More Information:

(1) Projects can be cross-sectoral, i.e. implement an innovative clean tech solution in several sectors, but still need to be classified under one sector, so in practice there may be more applications of carbon capture and storage or hydrogen. The sector classification is based on the applications as submitted.