European Union

Highlights in 2018
Highlights in 2018


Mission Innovation impact case study

In October 2018, the European Commission and Breakthrough Energy announced their intention to create a €100 million joint pilot investment fund – Breakthrough Energy Ventures – Europe (BEV-E). This pilot fund will invest in and develop economically-viable breakthrough clean energy technologies and companies established in the EU. It will pioneer a new European public-private co-investment vehicle and its investments will target the five key areas that reflect the major energy- and greenhouse gas (GHG)-related challenges where efforts are essential to combat climate change: (1) electricity, (2) transportation, (3) agriculture, (4) manufacturing, and (5) buildings. It is expected to be operational by mid-2019.

Breakthrough Energy Coalition, spearheaded by Bill Gates, was launched simultaneously with MI. It is an international group of private investors, prominent companies, funds, institutional investors and banks that share a commitment to accelerate the commercialization of new clean energy technologies and building new tools to address climate change. Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) is the first investor-led fund created by Breakthrough Energy in December 2016 with more than US$1 billion in committed capital to build new, cutting-edge energy companies around the world.

Half of the equity of BEV-E will come from Breakthrough Energy and the other half from InnovFin – risk-sharing financial instruments funded through Horizon 2020, the EU’s current research and innovation program.

The public-private breakfast session at the 3rd MI Ministerial during which ‘bold ideas’ (developed by the World Economic Forum to boost private engagement in supporting and financing deep-tech energy innovations) were discussed, helped raise the value and need for such public-private co-investment vehicles.

In the pilot phase, the impacts are anticipated on numerous fronts:

  • new innovative solutions and technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and technology cost reach early commercialization
  • growth of early-stage companies in Europe delivering breakthrough energy innovations (i.e. job creating)
  • increased number of investors in Europe providing patient capital (risk-tolerant)

Update on clean energy innovation policies and strategies

The governance of the Energy Union (the main policy strategy for energy and climate of the European Union [EU]) entered into force, requiring EU member states to develop National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) [1]. These covered the five different dimensions of the Union, including research, innovation and competitiveness. The reinforced governance of the Energy Union will help monitor the Energy Union’s objectives.

The Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan, which is the main instrument to structure national and EU programmes around shared objectives and to strengthen cooperation among European countries in the sector of energy, has endorsed all its fourteen Implementation Plans. These Implementation Plans intend to trigger public and private investments in the key energy research and innovation priorities of the Energy Union. Following the launch of the EU Battery Alliance in 2017, the European Commission (EC) also adopted a Strategic Action Plan for Batteries.

Furthermore, the Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation (ACEI) strategy continued to be implemented as a dimension of the Energy Union policy. A second report was produced presenting the progress achieved in the 20 actions outlined in the strategy.

Lastly, the EC presented its strategic long-term vision for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, launching the debate on EU’s long-term climate ambition and strategy. Research, innovation and international cooperation feature among the top priorities of this proposal[2].

Major innovation initiatives in 2018/19

The 2018-2020 work programme of the Societal Challenge “Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy” of the Horizon 2020 (H2020) framework research programme was approved, securing about €1,900 million for research activities related to clean energy. This included a budget allocation of about €250 million towards research and innovation on electric batteries and about €400 million for research in thematic areas related to the Innovation Challenges of MI (additional budget on projects with relevance to clean energy will also be spent in other programme parts, e.g. European Research Council, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions).

The EC published its proposal for Horizon Europe, the €100 billion research and innovation programme running from 2021 to 2027 that will succeed Horizon 2020 and will continue supporting European clean energy innovation research. The EC proposed that 35% of research funding be dedicated to climate-related research and €15 billion for the Climate/Energy/Transport cluster.

The InnovFin Energy Demonstration Programme (EDP)[3] achieved significant momentum, with more than €140 million mobilised by the European Investment Bank as loans for four innovative flagship First-of-its-kind commercial-scale demonstration projects in strategic sectors for clean energy.

Major activities in support of the Innovation Challenges in 2018/19

The EU has increased its support to the Innovation Challenges (IC) by introducing as many as 15 new research initiatives relevant to ICs in its 2018-2020 Work Programme of Horizon 2020, such as:

  • 7 new calls relevant to five ICs (1, 2, 4, 5, and 7).
  • The inducement prize “RESponsible Island – Prize for a renewable geographic energy island” (relevant to IC2).
  • 6 new calls relevant to IC8 in the Work Programme of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
  • The project SUNRISE, relevant to IC5, under the Future Emerging Technology programme (budget: €1 million).
  • A second call for ACT[4] (relevant to IC3) was published on 4th June 2018. The budget for the Call is up to €30 million.

New collaborations

BABET-REAL5: New technology and strategy for a large and sustainable deployment of second generation biofuel in rural areas
Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay
The objective of the project is to develop an alternative solution for the production of 2G bioethanol to the current model requiring high capital investment and huge amounts of biomass. This solution will be competitive at smaller scale, processing 30,000 tons dry biomass per year. It will be applicable to many countries, rural areas, feedstocks.
Sectors: open to both public and private sector
Type of collaboration: research and development
Duration: 2016 to 2020
Funding amount: 6M€ total – EU contributes 5.5M€ and Mexico 0.4M€
Find out more

ACT-ERANET: 2nd call 2018-2019, 3rd call 2020 (Accelerating CCS Technologies)
Norway  (coordinator), France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom, United States
ACT is an international initiative to facilitate RD&D and innovation within CO2 capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS). The ambition is to fund world class RD&D innovation that can lead to safe and cost effective CCUS technology.
Sectors: calls open to both public and private sector
Type of collaboration: ACT is an ERA NET Cofund, which is a tool established by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation. The idea behind ERA NET Cofunds is that European countries should join forces when it comes to funding RD&D and innovation on subjects of high European interest. ACT is one of many ERA NET Cofunds, but ACT is the only ERA NET Cofund addressing CCS. The ACT-ERANET are targeted to the identified Priority Research Directions (PRDs) under Mission Innovation Challenge 3-CCUS.

[1] Draft NECPs were submitted by EU Member States by the end of 2018, whilst final versions are to be submitted by end 2019 – see and

[2] COM(2018) 773 final

[3] The InnovFin EDP facility provides loans, loan guarantees or equity-type financing between EUR 7.5 Million and 75 Million to first-of-a-kind commercial-scale demonstration projects in the fields of energy system transformation, including but not limited to renewable energy technologies, smart energy systems, energy storage, carbon capture and storage or carbon capture and use. The four new projects signed by the European Investment bank in 2018  were for (a) the manufacturing of innovative battery cells for use in transport, energy storage and industry (Northvolt, Sweden); (b) for a floating wind farm (WindFloat Atlantic, Portugal); (c) for a network of ultra-fast charging stations for electrical vehicles in Central and Eastern Europe (GreenWay, Slovakia); and (d) for an innovative 50 MW/year automated manufacturing plant of reversible fuel cells and stack systems (Elcogen, Estonia). See

[4] ACT is an international initiative to facilitate RD&D and innovation, particularly through joint calls, within CO2 capture, utilisation and storage. ACT is managed by a consortium of 10 participants, of which 9 from Europe and one from the US, which joined this network in 2018 bringing its own resources (EUR 10 Million). See