Promoting innovative cleantech: 72 applications for the Innovation Fund’s 3rd small-scale call

The third call for small-scale projects launched under the Innovation Fund and with a grant budget of 100 million closed on 19 September 2023. The call was open to projects working on industrial decarbonisation solutions in the 27 EU Member States, Iceland and Norway that will further boost the deployment of pioneering innovative low-carbon technologies.

Projects from 23 eligible countries applied for Innovation Fund support under this call, demonstrating the wide geographical interest in cleantech and EU green industry financing. Sectors covered by the project proposals include chemicals, glass, hydrogen, solar energy, manufacturing of components for renewable energy and energy storage, but also non-ferrous metals and hydro/ocean energy.

This third call for small-scale projects proved extremely popular among applicants, with the total request for EU support amounting to €289 million. This is almost three times the €100 million budget available for this call, which is generated by revenues from the auctioning of emission allowances from the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). For the projects that are selected, the Innovation Fund will finance up to 60% of their total capital expenditure (between €2.5 and €7.5 million). By doing so, the risks for companies wanting to develop and commercialise innovative clean technologies in Europe are lowered.

Next steps

Admissibility and eligibility checks are currently being processed. Independent experts will then evaluate applications against the following award criteria:

  • potential to avoid greenhouse gas emissions
  • degree of innovation
  • project maturity
  • scalability potential
  • cost-efficiency

Evaluation results will be published in early 2024, and successful project promoters will be invited to prepare their grant agreements. Financing will be awarded in the 2nd quarter of 2024. Unsuccessful proposals that have the potential to improve their maturity and were evaluated as promising may be invited to receive Project Development Assistance from the European Investment Bank.

On 23 November 2023, new call for projects of all scales will be opened, with an increased budget of €4 billion to further support the Net-Zero Industry Act and European Green Deal’s objectives. A new auction scheme for hydrogen producers with a budget of €800 million will also be opened on the same date.


With a revenue of €40 billion from 2020 to 2030 from the EU ETS, the Innovation Fund aims to create financial incentives for companies and public authorities to invest in cutting-edge low-carbon technologies and support Europe’s transition to climate neutrality.

In the previous two small-scale calls, 46 projects received €169 million. 30 projects received altogether a total grant of €109 million after the 1st call, while 16 projects were awarded a total grant of around €60 million under the 2nd call.

The Innovation Fund is implemented by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA).

Source: European Commission | Climate Action (