The European Commission this week launched a new initiative to help 100 deep tech startups become unicorns, as the Union looks to accelerate growth in green and digital technologies.
“We will identify one hundred of Europe’s future technology champions, engage them and support them on their way to expansion,” said EU Chief Technology Officer Margrethe Vestager announced the EIC Scale Up 100 initiative yesterday at a deep tech conference in Stockholm.
These “future technology champions” will be selected from a pool of start-ups already participating in national and EU-led innovation programs across the continent. Only the “best performing” startups will be awarded the contract, the EU executive said in a statement.
Startups are selected in areas that contribute to Europe’s green and digital transformation, such as climate, energy, digital and health. “Supporting scale-ups is not only our best chance to create native tech giants, but also a critical choice for digital and energy resilience,” Vestager said.
The European Innovation Council (EIC) will oversee the process. The advice, which Vestager likened to a “factory of European unicorns,” has already spawned 12 startups valued at $1 billion or more, including Dutch vertical farming startup Infarm and Swedish 3D bioprinting startup Cellink . The EIC has also spawned 112 “Centaur” companies – companies with annual recurring revenues in excess of $100 million.
EU Member States and countries associated with the bloc’s scientific research initiative, Horizon Europe, will be invited to nominate companies from their ecosystems, with their participation advancing to the selection process.
The selected startups will receive support from a group called the EIC Scaling Club, which includes 100 investors from VC, growth and government funds, 100 companies with innovation units and 100 independent mentors.
The goal of the initiative is to help startups grow 40% annually in valuation, new investments, partnerships and jobs, and 50% over two years for the top 20 performing companies on the same parameters.
“EIC Scale Up 100 will prove that Europe is the most attractive location for future global unicorns and their investors,” said Vestager.
The program falls under the New European Innovation Agenda launched last year, which aims to increase funding, foster deep technical capabilities and implement improved policy tools.