EU sets up €20 million support for Ukrainian startups through European Innovation Council

The European Commission has launched an ambitious €20 million action to support the Ukrainian innovation community. Through a targeted amendment of the 2022 European Innovation Council (EIC) work programme, the new initiative will support at least 200 Ukrainian deep tech start-ups with up to €60,000 each. In addition, the EIC will offer non-financial support, such as business advisory services and matchmaking.

This will enhance the capacity of Ukrainian innovators to interact with the European innovation ecosystem, enter new markets and benefit from the European financing instruments.

“While fighting Russian military aggression it is vital for Ukraine to look forward. The country has a vivid start-up scene and great potential for innovative businesses. It is very important to preserve this economic capacity and enable Ukrainian tech innovators to grow and integrate further into the European innovation ecosystem. We want them to expand their operations to the European markets and beyond.” — Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

“We aim to mobilise all possible resources and provide support to Ukraine. Today, we are calling on the European innovation actors such as start-up associations, enterprise support centres, incubators and accelerators to join us in supporting the Ukrainian deep tech community to make it stronger, more resilient and competitive.” — Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age

“Prior to Russia’s invasion, Ukraine had a vibrant tech start-up scene, with over 1600 start-ups. This new action aims to safeguard this progress, reinforce links to the European innovation ecosystem, and ensure Ukrainian start-ups are well placed to become a critical driver for rebuilding the Ukrainian economy.” — Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

The €20 million support will be disbursed through a competitive call for proposals for a pan-European network of start-up associations, supporting Ukrainian innovation stakeholders. Synergies with relevant EU initiatives, such as the Enterprise Europe Network will be ensured. With this call, opening on 23 June, the European Innovation Council (EIC) aspires to ensure the business continuity of the Ukrainian tech companies and foster their growth. The action can help prepare Ukrainian start-ups to compete for future EIC funding opportunities. The EIC can fund start-ups up to €17.5 million in grants and equity investment and can crowd-in further private investments up to three times the amount invested by public funds.

In addition, following Ukraine’s ratification, the agreement associating Ukraine to the Horizon Europe and Euratom Research and Training Programmes entered into force today. The agreement was signed on 12 October 2021 on the occasion of the EU-Ukraine Summit. Now European and Ukrainian researchers and innovators, universities, businesses, including small and medium-sized ones (SMEs), have all the opportunities to work together on equal terms to reach joint goals and address critical challenges. In view of the ongoing Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the EU’s commitment to offer tangible means of support to the Ukrainian research and innovation community, Ukraine will participate in Horizon Europe and Euratom Programmes without having to contribute financially for years 2021 and 2022. Its waived contribution was estimated at around €20 million.

This support is complementary to the ongoing ‘European Research Area for Ukraine’ (ERA4Ukraine) Horizon4Ukraine and ERC for Ukraineinitiatives, as well as the dedicated fellowship scheme of €25 million under the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions (MSCA) for displaced researchers of Ukraine.


In February 2022, the Commission adopted the annual work programme of the EIC, opening funding opportunities worth over €1.7 billion in 2022. Launched in March 2021 as a major novelty under the Horizon Europe programme, the EIC has an overall budget of over €10 billion between 2021 and 2027.

To mobilise all possible resources and provide support that can help Ukraine in these difficult times, the EIC work programme has been amended to launch an additional call for proposals targeting Ukraine’s deep-tech community, which has a strong potential for creating breakthrough innovations. In the past years, the Ukrainian start-up scene has been growing steadily and increasing its contribution to the Ukrainian economic growth. This action should strengthen the Ukrainian tech ecosystems and supporting innovative solutions for rebuilding the Ukrainian economy and infrastructure after the war.

Relations between the EU and Ukraine in the field of research and innovation began some 20 years ago.

  • In 2002, the European Community and Ukraine signed an Agreement on cooperation in Science and Technology.
  • In 2015, Ukraine became fully associated to Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme (2014-2020), with 170 Ukrainian entities receiving close to €46 million in EU funding and showing innovation leadership and excellence in researchers’ mobility, as well as in transport and energy.
  • In 2016, Ukraine and the EU also concluded an agreement on the association of the country to the Euratom Research and Training Programme. The Euratom Research and Training Programme aims at improving the levels of nuclear safety and radiation protection.

On 10 May 2022, the Commission announced the launch of the new MSCA4Ukraine scheme, part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. With a total budget of €25 million, the new scheme will enable scientists from Ukraine to continue their work in Europe and countries associated to Horizon Europe, helping to safeguard Ukraine’s research and innovation system, and the freedom of scientific research at large.

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Topics: Finance, Grants, International, Policy making, Press releases, Startups
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