What the EIC grant means to the co-founders of the company
As broadly announced this week, we are among the latest batch of companies to receive the EIC Accelerator Blended finance – with a €2,4M grant and up to €12M in investments from the European Innovation Council and the European Investment Grant.
It is the flagship startup funding program from the EIC, and it is incredibly competitive, with around 2% of applicants historically being successful. In our round, around 1000 companies made it through Step 1 and were invited to submit a full application in Step 2. About 250 companies were subsequently invited to the interview round of Step 3, and finally we were among the 78 companies offered funding.
For the three co-founders, this achievement is immense – and very meaningful. We wanted to shed some light on what it all means to us.
Firstly – and obviously – it means that we have secured stable operations of the company for the two year period which the grant money is for. It also means a radical boost in our ability to close our next larger funding round to scale our growth, with the EIB as a co-investor with up to €12M.
It means of course great validation of our hard work, the products developed, the company we’ve built, the team around us, our client relationships and the large ambitious impact vision we’ve always strived towards.
It means a great validation also of both the quality and the importance of the research work we have put into the last seven years. It has not always been obvious to the people around us with opinions why we should have such a large research team in such a small, low-funded company. But here we are, at the forefront of AI, more specifically NLP for Science, and all the hard work is paying off.
It means that the company in some sense finally has a home. We started out as co-founders in separate countries; we would never all live in the same place. We hired the best talent where we could find them. And again and again, we met the uncomfortable reality: The European Union is not quite made for that. We weren’t quite Norwegian enough for some Norwegian funding programs; not London-based enough for some UK VCs; not quite close enough for American investors with their post code mentality. Yet we insisted: we are cross-European. We are European. The EIC sees beyond a collection of national markets with national interests. So this funding, to us, validates that we do have a home, and it’s Europe. All of it.
It means that from a global perspective, we are in fact a unique European player who can and will have a role to play in the race for safe, ethical, science backed and factual AI development and application – and a viable competitor to companies in large countries.
It means that when we set out to start this company, it was with a clear impact vision and massive visionary ambitions. We set out to build the world’s first interdisciplinary AI Researcher, and we are still on that path. With the funding from the EIC Accelerator, we finally can match that ambition with the resources it requires.
Some time in 2022, when we had hit quite a rough patch – but we had decided to keep pushing forward, still believing that success was within reach – one of our investors sent us this quote:
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.Calvin Coolidge
So receiving the EIC Accelerator means most of all that our insistence, persistence, and at times stubbornness (bordering on insanity?) – all in the name of making a positive impact on the world of science – was worth it.
// Victor, Jacobo and Anita.