EDYS24 Registrations are now open

EDYS24 Registrations are now open
Learn more and apply

16 May 2024

Building Tomorrow - EU Programs for Empowering Startup Ventures | EFIVOS Articles


Author: Teodora Akinola

Within the dynamic realm of commerce and novel ideas, startup enterprises assume a critical function in propelling advancements and molding forthcoming developments. The European Union (EU), in recognition of the significance of fostering innovation and cultivating an entrepreneurial mentality, has established a comprehensive framework of programs and initiatives with the objective of empowering entrepreneurs throughout Europe. 

The European Union is a leader in this pursuit due to its dedication to furnishing entrepreneurs with the essential resources, mentorship, and financing required to convert groundbreaking concepts into successful enterprises. The EU presents a wide range of programs that are specifically designed to address the distinct requirements of fledgling ventures, encompassing market entry, scalability, and innovative research and development.

The EU is dedicated to creating a dynamic entrepreneurial environment that helps ambitious entrepreneurs to fulfill their vision and build a better tomorrow as companies generate economic development, innovation, and jobs. Entrepreneurs may learn more about the EU's assistance for startups and take advantage of their chances in the article.

 Horizon Europe: Promoting Research and Innovation

Horizon Europe, the biggest transnational research and innovation initiative, leads EU startup funding.

Horizon Europe gives businesses unprecedented access to resources, experience, and assistance to succeed in today's competitive environment with a budget of €95 billion. Horizon Europe accelerates innovation and economic growth by investing in cutting-edge research and promoting international collaboration, making Europe a global leader in R&D.

 Horizon Europe's EIC Accelerator is a flagship funding tool. The EIC Accelerator provides grants, equity investments, and business mentoring to high-potential entrepreneurs and smes to grow their innovative ideas and reach new markets. The EIC Accelerator helps entrepreneurs overcome market entrance obstacles and expand sustainably by offering financial and strategic support.

Horizon Europe's EIC Pathfinder program supports early-stage, high-risk research and innovation initiatives complementing the EIC Accelerator. The EIC Pathfinder awards consortia of researchers, entrepreneurs, and industry partners to turn visionary ideas into practical solutions that meet social needs and advance technology. The EIC Pathfinder encourages experimentation and revolutionary change via pioneering research and disruptive innovation.

Horizon Europe is a lighthouse for companies using science and innovation to make a difference. Horizon Europe helps companies fulfill their vision, make technical breakthroughs, and affect European and global innovation by offering money, knowledge, and cooperation possibilities. Startups use Horizon Europe funding to boost economic growth, competitiveness, and sustainable development across the EU.

European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF): Driving Regional Development

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are crucial to achieving the EU's cohesion goals and inclusive growth among member states. The ESIF, a cornerstone of EU cohesion strategy, funds needy regions to promote economic and social convergence. Startups have access to ESIF funding sources to promote entrepreneurship and regional development.

These initiatives include the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund. These grants help firms start and grow in developing countries. The ERDF and ESF help entrepreneurs expand and capitalize on local possibilities by providing financial and technical support.

The ERDF funds startup infrastructure initiatives including business parks, incubators, and innovation hubs. These investments provide the physical and technological infrastructure needed to encourage entrepreneurship and attract investment to economically disadvantaged areas. Startups may create and develop new goods and services that boost competitiveness and growth with ERDF R&D support.

Startups benefit from ESF investments in human capital and skills development. The ESF gives budding entrepreneurs the information, skills, and resources they need to thrive in the contemporary economy through training, entrepreneurship courses, and mentorship. The ESF encourages entrepreneurship and innovation by investing in human capital, allowing people to reach their full potential and boost regional economy.

The ESIF boosts economic growth and social inclusion by giving businesses the funding and assistance they need to succeed in varied regional contexts. Startups can use ESIF resources to alter less developed EU areas through job creation, innovation, and sustainable growth.


COSME: Facilitating Access to Finance

Startups seeking financing benefit from COSME, the EU's SME competitiveness programme. COSME guarantees and equity investments through the European Investment Fund (EIF) increase financial availability for smes, particularly startups. Additionally, the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) matches entrepreneurs with European investors and financiers. COSME helps entrepreneurs overcome financial constraints and develop faster by providing money.

Besides financial support, COSME provides a variety of services and tools to help companies compete and survive. COSME's Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) centers provide entrepreneurs business advising, market research, and networking services. These services assist firms navigate overseas marketplaces, find expansion possibilities, and form strategic collaborations.

By helping women, youth, and minorities, COSME promotes inclusive entrepreneurship. The program supports women, young, and social entrepreneur firms through the European Social Fund for Entrepreneurship and the COSME Equity Facility for Social Enterprises. COSME promotes diversity in entrepreneurship and lowers barriers to entry to create a more inclusive and fair business environment.

COSME is useful for startups looking to expand. The program helps entrepreneurs overcome obstacles, capture opportunities, and reach their full potential by offering money, business assistance, and teamwork. COSME continues to help entrepreneurs across the EU as they drive innovation and economic growth.


 European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI): Promoting Investments

As part of the Investment Plan for Europe, also known as the Juncker Plan, seeks to attract private investment in important EU projects. Innovative startups with great growth potential might benefit from EFSI support. The EFSI also promotes public-private partnership to fill market gaps and invest in new enterprises. The EFSI offers entrepreneurs a variety of financing instruments adapted to their requirements through its relationship with the EIB and EIF. Venture capital, mezzanine finance, and risk-sharing instruments help firms scale and flourish.

The EFSI also supports sustainable economic development and job creation programs to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. The EFSI helps businesses to solve social problems by concentrating on sustainable energy, digital technology, and healthcare.

The EFSI encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, investing in high-growth enterprises and promoting economic growth. The EFSI helps companies follow their ideas, create employment, and expand sustainably by providing financing, experience, and resources. Startups drive Europe's economic recovery and competitiveness, and the EFSI is committed to their success and a happy future for everybody.

 European Innovation Council (EIC): Promoting Innovative Disruption

The EIC, a Horizon Europe flagship, fosters disruptive innovation and technology. Startups can get up to €2.5 million in non-dilutive finance, business mentoring, and networking through the EIC Accelerator. Startup, research, and industry consortiums receive financing from the EIC Pathfinder for pioneering research and emerging technology initiatives. By encouraging innovation, the EIC helps startups innovate and evolve.

From flagship initiatives like Horizon Europe, which fuels cutting-edge research and innovation, to dedicated platforms like the European Innovation Council (EIC), which supports high-potential startups, the EU offers a variety of funding mechanisms to meet entrepreneurs' diverse needs at every stage.

These investment possibilities give vital financial support, coaching, and networking to help entrepreneurs navigate market entrance, scalability, and sustainability. EU financing schemes help entrepreneurs turn big ideas into successful businesses by providing finance, knowledge, and networks.

Policymakers, industry stakeholders, and the startup community must collaborate and innovate to improve and extend EU financing for entrepreneurs. The EU can improve its role as a worldwide hub for innovation and entrepreneurship by harnessing new technology, solving new issues, and embracing new trends.

EU startup financing possibilities are more than simply financial support; they reflect a common commitment to good change, progress, and a better future. The European Union will encourage entrepreneurs that use their ingenuity, perseverance, and vision to solve global problems and create new possibilities. 


Peñalosa, P., & Castaldi, C. (2024). Horizon Europe: a green window of opportunity for european peripheral regions? Review of Regional Research. 

Horizon Europe. Research and Innovation.

EIC Accelerator. European Innovation Council. 

EIC Pathfinder. European Innovation Council. 

European Commission. (2021). European Regional Development Fund. 

Tataj, D., & Verganti, R. (2017). The European Innovation Council: Strategic Reflections, 130–139. 

The European Fund for Strategic Investments. (n.d.). European Commission. 

The European Investment Project Portal (EIPP)(n.d.). Economy and Finance. 

COSME. (n.d.). Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. 

Karumazondo, J. J., Ross, D. A., Mangombe, A., Zvoushe, L. K., Jani, K., Mugarapanyama, D., Gumbo, J. T., Nyanungo, K. R., Nyamayaro, W., Murinda, E., Mhloyi, M., Ferrand, R. A., & Mackworth-Young, C. (2024). Innovative professional development for multisectoral policy making and programming for adolescent wellbeing. Journal of Adolescent Health

COSME Programme and the Enterprise Europe Network. (n.d.). 

This article is published under the framework of the EFIVOS project. EFIVOS is an initiative aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness of EU institutions, policies, and democratic procedures. This podcast has been funded through project 101081482 — EFIVOS in Europe — CERV-2022-CITIZENS-CIV.

​​The European Commission support for the production of this article does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflect the view only of the authors, and the Commission can not be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.