Innovation and Networks Executive Agency

Innovation Fund

Since 15 June 2020, INEA is managing a part of Innovation Fund programme via grants.

The Innovation Fund (IF) contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction by focusing on:

  • Innovative low-carbon technologies and processes in energy intensive industries (steel, cement, glass, chemicals, paper, etc.), including products substituting carbon intensive ones
  • Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU)
  • Construction and operation of carbon capture and storage (CCS)
  • Innovative renewable energy generation
  • Energy storage

Revenues for the Innovation Fund are being provided by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the world's largest carbon pricing system, from the auctioning of 450 million allowances from 2020 to 2030. The IF will also benefit from 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, the EU ETS offers the main long-term incentive for the above technologies to be deployed.

The IF is a key funding instrument for delivering the EU's economy-wide commitments under the Paris Agreement and supporting the European Commission's strategic vision of a 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.

Please see the reference documents here.

Objectives

The Innovation Fund will contribute to greenhouse gas reduction by:

  • helping create the right financial incentives for new investments in the next generation of technologies needed for the EU's low-carbon transition
  • boosting growth and competitiveness by empowering companies with a first-mover advantage to become global clean technology leaders
  • supporting innovative low-carbon technologies in all Member States in taking off and reaching the market.

It is designed to take into account the lessons learned from its predecessor, the NER300 programme. It is bigger and better in several ways:

  • Open to projects from energy intensive-industries
  • Improves the risk-sharing for projects: its grants cover up to 60% of the additional capital and operational costs of innovation
  • Provides support in a more flexible way, following the cashflow needs of the project through pre-defined milestones
  • Simpler selection process
  • Stronger synergies with other EU funding programmes
  • Streamlined governance and simplified decision-making

What is funded?

The IF focuses on highly innovative technologies and big flagship projects with European value added that can bring 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.

The Fund 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) in EU Member States, Iceland and Norway.

At the same time, the projects need to be sufficiently mature in terms of planning, business model and financial and legal structure.

The Fund also supports cross-cutting projects for innovative low-carbon solutions that lead to emission reductions in multiple sectors, for example through industrial symbiosis.

It is also open to small-scale projects where total capital costs are under €7.5 million and for which there will be specific calls for proposals.