Since the start of the war in Ukraine one year ago on 24 February 2022, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) has strongly cooperated with its parent Directorate Generals to put in place concrete actions in support to Ukrainian companies, entrepreneurs and citizens, contributing to the overarching efforts made by the European Commission for the 'EU solidarity with Ukraine'. Cornerstones of the EISMEA efforts are the European Innovation Council (EIC) and the Single Market Programme (SMP).
European Innovation Council
A large call targeting Ukrainian companies and an increase in Ukrainian applicants are the most notable actions under the European Innovation Council (EIC) funding scheme under Horizon Europe, together with specific actions to raise awareness of EIC funding opportunities for Ukrainian innovators.
EIC €20 million call for Ukrainian tech start-ups and SMEs
A €20 million initiative specifically targeted to Ukrainian tech start-ups and SMEs with the aim of creating a pan-European network, managed by a consortium of associations from different Members States together with Ukrainian partners, was launched in 2022 with the specific objectives of:
- supporting start-ups in Ukraine, relocated from Ukraine or relocated back to Ukraine;
- providing direct financial support (up to €60k innovation grants) to at least 200 Ukrainian tech startups/SMEs; and
- providing support services (expertise, access to markets, access to networks, etc.)
By the deadline (7 September 2023), 12 eligible proposals were submitted and were evaluated in the last quarter of 2022. Results of the call will be announced at the beginning of March 2023.
Ukrainian participation in EIC calls
In addition to this call targeting Ukrainian companies specifically, many Ukrainian organisations applied and received funding from the EIC in 2021 and 2022. For the three-steps application process under the EIC Accelerator, where the last step (interview) is still ongoing, EISMEA received 31 applications in step 1 (short application) and 7 applications from 5 applicants in step 2 (full application) from Ukrainian organisations. In the framework of the EIC Pathfinder scheme, out of the 45 applications with Ukrainian participants received, 4 projects were selected for funding; and out of the 7 applications received for the first call of the Hop on facility, one Ukrainian research institute was invited to join an ongoing EIC Pathfinder project.
Raising awareness of EIC funding opportunities to Ukraine Innovators
Last 21 April 2022, the EIC together with the Ukrainian Start-up Fund and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine organised a joint workshop entitled “The European Unicorn Factory: Funding Opportunities for Ukrainian Innovators”.
Full recording of the workshop is available.
Another concrete action to secure Ukrainian awareness about and participation in the EIC has been the appointment of Ukraine-based entrepreneur Sergey Sereda, who is the co-founder and managing partner of an EIC Accelerator-supported company from Ukraine, as EIC Ambassador in September 2022.
Single Market Programme – SME Pillar
In parallel to the EIC, several initiatives have also been promoted by SME Pillar actions under the Single Market Programme managed by EISMEA. In particular, by the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) and the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE).
Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)
The Enterprise Europe Network, the world's largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with international ambitions funded by the European Commission, has also spearheaded several actions in support to Ukraine.
In October 2022, the renewed EEN Ukraine consortium was set up. The Ukrainian Enterprise Europe Network Partners are at the service of local companies and ready to provide European clients with all the help and advice they need to do business in Ukraine.
The European Commission and the Enterprise Europe Network have also launched a dedicated Task Force on Ukraine at the start of the military conflict with a dual purpose: on the one hand, to coordinate efforts to help businesses facing supply chain disruptions and, on the other, to support colleagues from the Ukrainian Partners. The Task Force has been meeting regularly to gain insights about the situation and to discuss new ideas on how to support our Ukrainian citizens and businesses.
Other relevant actions that were developed by the Network are:
the Supply Chain Resilience Platform, in collaboration with the European Clusters Collaboration Platform, which supports companies retain, restructure or replace existing supply chains, as well as source raw materials, parts, components and (semi-)finished goods or services they need to keep production going;
the Solidarity Lanes Platform, a matchmaking platform bringing EU and Ukrainian businesses together quickly so that they may find pragmatic solutions to the export of agricultural produce from Ukraine.
Finally, at the beginning of February 2023, the Network organised a webinar on Investing and doing business in Ukraine targeting Network advisers and cluster managers supporting business clients from all sectors of the economy. The webinar addressed the main challenges and opportunities for doing business in Ukraine and closed with the plea to continue solidarity and start investing more in Ukraine. You can watch the full recording of the webinar.
For more information on all actions put in place by the Enterprise Europe Network, you can consult the dedicated page on the Network's website.
European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP)
The European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) is a vibrant online community helping cluster organisations across Europe and beyond to connect, communicate and collaborate.
In the raise of the conflict, the ECCP established the EU Clusters Support Ukraine Forum to enhance the ability of European industry to contribute to the delivery of humanitarian aid for Ukraine and to support Ukrainian refugees in Member State countries.
In addition, within the framework of the Clusters meet Regions service, the ECCP is organising on 29-30 March 2023 the event “European Clusters integrating Ukrainian Clusters and Companies into the EU value chains” in Kosice (Slovakia) and online. The event will bring together over 200 representatives of EU and Ukrainian clusters and companies, as well as national and regional public authorities and business support organisations from Slovakia and other EU regions, researchers, civil society members, financial intermediaries, innovation agencies, industrial associations, investors, and other related actors. Participants will have the opportunity to build EU-Ukraine business relations, and to find partners to trade and invest with. Registrations for the event are now open, until 28 March.
Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE)
Finally, the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) programme has reached out immediately to Ukrainian Intermediary Organisations (EYE project beneficiaries) and entrepreneurs to support them. Immediate emergency measures were taken and implemented by the entire network to support the functioning of the organisations and match Ukrainian entrepreneurs with their hosts outside of Ukraine and allow them to continue realising their ambitions to start and grow their companies. In addition, Ukrainian entrepreneurs who are already on business exchanges abroad have been offered an extension of their stays.
Flexing the programme rules, and in order to facilitate integration of Ukrainian refugees in their (temporary) host country, and to tap into their entrepreneurial potential, the EYE programme also allows them to be matched to host entrepreneurs in their host country and to receive a monthly allowance. This is a solid deviation from the usual EYE programme rule, which is to match entrepreneurs cross-border.
The EYE programme Intermediary Organisations have shown full commitment to welcoming Ukrainians and offering them numerous support, also connecting with humanitarian and other organisations, thus well beyond their usual radar. As a result, the programme has offered one successful young entrepreneur to pitch as successful new entrepreneur at the EYE Innovator Award 2023 on 7 March.
Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC)
Beyond the above, the Intelligent Cities Challenge mobilised cities to help in various respects. For instance, cities helped identifying and sharing good practices to help support displaced persons, identifying potential gaps for policy actions and peer learning among cities. A specific call for donations "Keeping Ukraine's Energy Infrastructure Running through the Winter" was organised. The activities' report is available at: ICC_Ukranine report_final (intelligentcitieschallenge.eu)
Following adoption of the SMP Work Programme 2023 on 22.02.2023, two specific actions in support of Ukrainian SMEs and entrepreneurs will be launched shortly. They will feature under the funding section SMP of the EISMEA web. They target at selecting international consortia with the involvement of Ukrainian applicants to help boost Ukrainians benefit from the Single Market, e.g. innovation services, specific trainings, exchanges with experienced entrepreneurs etc.
- Publication date
- 24 February 2023
- European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency