The Innovation Fund is one of the world’s largest funding programmes for demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies.
The Innovation Fund focuses on:
The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the world’s largest carbon pricing system, is providing the revenues for the Innovation Fund from the auctioning of 450 million allowances from 2020 to 2030, as well as any unspent funds from the NER300 programme.
As the successor of the NER300 programme, the Innovation Fund improves the risk-sharing for projects by giving more funding in a more flexible way through a simpler selection process and is also open to projects from energy-intensive industries.
For the period 2020-2030, the Fund may amount to about €10 billion, depending on the carbon price. In parallel to the Innovation Fund, the EU ETS provides the main long-term incentive for these technologies to be deployed.
The Innovation Fund is a key funding instruments for delivering the EU’s economy-wide commitments under the Paris Agreement and its objective to be climate neutral Europe by 2050, as recognised also in the European Green Deal Investment Plan.
The first call for proposals under the Innovation Fund contributes to the green recovery of the EU economy by helping businesses invest in clean energy and clean industry to boost economic growth, create local jobs and give a competitive advantage to EU industry.
The Innovation Fund will focus on highly innovative technologies and big flagship projects with European value added that can bring on significant emission reductions. It is about sharing the risk with project promoters to help with the demonstration of first-of-a-kind highly innovative projects.
It aims to finance a varied project pipeline achieving an optimal balance of a wide range of innovative technologies in all eligible sectors (energy intensive industries, renewable energy, energy storage, CCS and CCU) and Member States.
At the same time, the projects need to be sufficiently mature in terms of planning, business model and financial and legal structure.
The Fund will also support cross-cutting projects on innovative low-carbon solutions that lead to emission reductions in multiple sectors, for example through industrial symbiosis.
The Fund is also open to small-scale projects with total capital costs under €7.5 million which can benefit from simplified application and selection procedures.
The application process has two stages:
For small-scale projects, the application process will have only one stage.
Project proponents can apply by submitting their projects when there is an open call for proposals.
The first call for proposals for large-scale projects closed 29 October 2020.
For more information on the first call, check the large-scale projects tab.
There will be regular calls for proposals in the lifetime of the Innovation Fund.
Projects will be selected based on:
The detailed scoring and ranking methodology, as well as possible additional criteria for geographical and sectorial balance, are set in each call for proposals. For small-scale projects, the selection criteria can be simplified.
For the criteria of the first call for proposals for large-scale projects, check the Funding and Tenders Portal.
The Innovation Fund will support up to 60% of the additional capital and operational costs linked to innovation.
The grants will be disbursed in a flexible way based on project financing needs, taking into account the milestones achieved during the project lifetime.
Up to 40% of the grants can be given based on pre-defined milestones before the whole project is fully up and running.
The European Commission, assisted by the implementing bodies INEA and EIB is tasked with the overall management of the Innovation Fund. The final responsibility for the selection of projects that will be awarded the Innovation Fund grant or the PDA support lies with the Commission.
For the development of the Innovation Fund, the Commission is assisted by the Innovation Fund Expert group. Information on the group and its meetings is available in the Register of Commission Expert Groups, while its work in preparing the first call for proposals is available under the large-scale projects tab.
The Commission has designated the Executive Agency for Innovation and Networks as the implementing body of the Innovation Fund. It will:
INEA will report regularly to the Commission and provide feedback on general orientations for further development of the Innovation Fund.
The European Investment Bank is responsible for the provision and management of the Project Development Assistance (PDA) support. The EIB will also be in charge of the monetisation of the Innovation Fund allowances and the management of the Innovation Fund revenues. The EIB will report regularly to the Commission.
Member States actively participate in the implementation of the Innovation Fund. They are consulted on key decisions, including:
If requested by the Commission, Member States will also advise and assist the Commission in setting general orientations for the Innovation Fund, as well as in addressing problems in the implementation of a project. Regulatory and financial support from a government or local authority will be an important element to evaluate the maturity of projects.
Innovation Fund grants can be combined with funding from other support programmes, for example:
A paper provides more clarifications on the combination of Innovation Fund support with other public support.
The Innovation Fund grant is not considered to be State aid. To cover the remaining costs, a project applicant can combine the Innovation Fund grant with public support by a Member State.
The amount of public support for a project will depend on the cumulation thresholds of the applicable State aid rules, such as:
The above-mentioned State aid measures are currently under review and possibly subject to update.
In 2019, the Commission organised an Innovation Fund Tour of workshops hosted by sector associations and Member States to prepare the first call for proposals.
The Commission presented the new funding instrument and the essential elements to be developed for the first call, while companies came forward with their project ideas and discussed key sector-specific issues.
The list of projects presented at the workshops helped the Commission gather real life examples as test cases for various methodologies on the selection criteria.
For more information you can contact the Innovation Fund Team at DG Climate Action at CLIMA IF EXPERTGROUP.
The first call for large-scale project proposals closed 29 October 2020. The next step in the first call of the Innovation Fund is the admissibility and eligibility checks of all submissions. External evaluators will evaluate proposals that fulfil the admissibility and eligibility conditions against the award criteria.
Applicants will be informed about the results of the evaluation in the first quarter of 2021. The best ranked 70 projects will be invited to submit a full application for the second stage by 23 June 2021.
Rejected proposals that have the potential to improve their maturity may be invited for the project development assistance provided by the EIB. The information on the evaluation results from the second stage will be provided in the fourth quarter of 2021. Grants will be awarded at the end of 2021.
The first call for large-scale projects closed 29 October 2020. More calls will take place at a later stage in time.
You will find all information and documentation needed at the Funding and Tenders Portal, including the call text, application forms, Frequently Asked Questions and the helpdesk for additional questions.
You can start your submission on the funding and tenders opportunities portal.
More information is also available on INEA website.
The first call will fund clean energy and clean industry innovative investments to contribute to the green recovery of EU economy and maintain the momentum in EU journey to climate neutrality.
Key elements of the first call for proposals for large-scale projects:
|Launch of large-scale call||3 July 2020|
|Deadline for submission of applications to 1st stage||29 October 2020|
|Information on evaluation results and invitation for the 2nd stage or PDA||Q1 2021 (indicative)|
|Deadline for submission of applications to 2nd stage||Q2 2021 (indicative)|
|Information on 2nd stage evaluation results||Q4 2021 (indicative)|
|Award of the grants||End 2021 (indicative)|
The first call for large-scale projects was prepared throughout 2019 and 2020 with the active involvement of the Innovation Fund Expert Group.
On 5 June 2020, the Innovation Fund Expert Group had a live-streamed virtual meeting.
The following background documents informed the discussions:The following background documents informed the discussions:
These build on the discussion papers developed for the technical workshops in February and March and subsequent feedback received.
On 12 March, a web-streamed workshop addressed the project maturity, innovation and scalability selection criteria, due diligence, project development assistance and knowledge sharing under the Innovation Fund.
On 5-6 February 2020 a group of technical experts selected by the members of the Innovation Fund Expert Group (IFEG) met to discuss potential methodologies to estimate GHG emissions avoidance and relevant costs of innovative projects eligible for funding under the Innovation Fund, in the preparation for the first call for proposals expected for June 2020.
On 18 December 2019 the Innovation Fund Expert Group (IFEG) met to start the final preparation for the first call.
On 28 March 2019, the Innovation Fund Expert Group met to start the discussions on the preparation for the first call.
On 4 December 2018, the Innovation Fund Expert Group met to discuss the draft Delegated Regulation on the operation of the Innovation Fund.
On 8 June 2018, the Innovation Fund Expert Group met for the first time to discuss its role, the lessons learned from the NER 300 programme and the rules for financing, application, project selection and governance of the Innovation Fund.
The Innovation Fund is also open to small-scale projects with total capital costs below EUR 7.5 million. They can benefit from simplified one-stage application and selection procedures.
The Commission is working on the first call for small-scale projects to be launched in end of 2020.
Innovation Fund Expert Group in the Register of Commission Expert Groups