The eagerly awaited work programme for the Innovation Fund ("Innovation Fund 2023 Net Zero Technologies") was published on 23 November 2023 - and it packs a punch! After three years without any major changes, the programme introduces several new features for the coming year. We will present these below.


What is the Innovation Fund?

The Innovation Fund is the world's largest funding programme for the decarbonisation of industry and a key element of the European Union. It is dedicated to supporting pioneering investment projects in the field of low-carbon technologies. With a clear focus on innovative technologies that significantly drive the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, this fund plays a crucial role in realising the EU's ambitious goals in the fight against climate change.



New topics: maritime and aviation

The known topics have been expanded further in the new call. Projects in the following areas are generally eligible for funding: 

General decarbonisation
  • Energy-intensive industries (e.g. iron and steel, cement, chemicals, hydrogen)
  • Carbon capture and utilisation/storage
  • Hydrogen (e.g. utilisation as an energy carrier or in the chemical industry)
  • Renewable energies (e.g. wind, solar, water, geothermal energy)
  • Energy storage (e.g. of electricity, heat, cooling)
  • New: Road transport (e.g. low-emission freight transport, public transport)
  • New: Buildings (e.g. low-emission heating systems)
  • New: Maritime technologies (e.g. alternative fuels, electrification)
  • New: Aviation (e.g. alternative fuels, electrification)
Clean-tech manufacturing

Production plants for the following products or their components: 

  • Renewable energies (e.g. photovoltaics, wind turbines)
  • Electrolysers and fuel cells
  • Energy storage systems (e.g. batteries)
  • Heat pumps
  • New: Ships and aeroplanes
Pilot projects
  • Highly innovative demonstration projects in the areas of general decarbonisation with minimal residual greenhouse gas emissions

New project size: medium scale

Previously, the Innovation Fund was divided into two project sizes, each with an annual deadline (large-scale projects in spring and small-scale projects in autumn). This has now changed: Projects of all sizes are eligible for the next deadline in a joint call! Medium-scale has been introduced as the middle format, bridging the gap between small and large and giving investment projects the opportunity to apply in the appropriate area.


Capital investment
per project

Budget of the respective
funding call 

General decarbonisation – large-scale  

over €100 million

€1.7 billion 

General decarbonisation –

€20 to €100 million 

€0.5 billion 

General decarbonisation –

€2.5 to €20 million 

€0.2 billion 

Clean-tech manufacturing

over €2.5 million 

€1.4 billion 

Pilot projects 

over €2.5 million* 

€0.2 billion 

  *max. €40 million funding


New calculation of relevant costs  

There are several important changes in the calculation of eligible costs: 

Methods: The No Reference Plant Method (previously Priority 3) is now used as the standard, and the Reference Plant Method is available as an alternative (previously Priority 2). The Levelised Cost Method has been dropped. This is intended to harmonise the cost calculation, as the No Reference Plant Method can be applied to all projects. 

Composition: Previously, only capital expenditure (CAPEX) was included in the relevant costs for small-scale projects. With the new funding call, operating costs (OPEX) may now be included in the relevant costs for all project sizes. 

Awarding of points: When the EU evaluates projects, points are awarded for cost efficiency according to a formula. To get the full score, a cost efficiency (funding applied for in euros per tonne of CO2 saved within ten years) of 4€/t (previously €12/t) must be achieved; no points are awarded if cost efficiency is larger than €200/t (previously €600/t). 

New type of funding: Auctions

In addition to the traditional call for funding, there will be a second form of funding in the Innovation Fund for the first time next year: Auctions. 

The Innovation Fund hydrogen auction will be the first of its kind in Europe. The aim is to promote the production of renewable hydrogen in Europe. A budget of 800 million euros is available for this purpose. All planned projects that increase hydrogen production capacities in Europe are eligible to participate. The minimum capacity of the electrolyser to be installed must be five megawatts electricity (MWel) per project. Funding is provided in the form of a fixed premium on the price per kilogramme of hydrogen produced for a period of up to ten years. In order to apply for funding, work must not yet have begun. The end of the auction is 8 February 2024. 

If this pilot auction is successful, further auctions and higher budgets can be expected.

Next deadline is 9 April 2024!

The next submission deadline for the EU Innovation Fund is 9 April 2024. If your project is selected, you have the chance to win up to 60% of the eligible costs for upscaling your innovative technology. The amount of funding is only limited by the call's budget of four billion euros! It will also enable you to present your project at European level and make a significant contribution to industrial decarbonisation in Europe. We wish all applicants every success!

Is your project suitable for the Innovation Fund?

The fund offers support for projects that promote innovative technologies and concepts and thus accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. Criteria such as degree of innovation, greenhouse gas savings, scalability and technical and financial maturity are taken into account.

EurA has gained extensive experience with the EU Innovation Fund programme in recent years. Are you interested and would like to find out more? Then contact our EU funding team and we will be happy to help you!


Text: Levin Winzinger

Dr André Nadolny

Your contact person
Dr André Nadolny

Do you want to learn more about this topic? Schedule a meeting with an expert.

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of national and international funding, I am an expert in acquiring financial resources for innovative projects. During my time in industry, I have coordinated and supported a wide range of development projects with partners in Europe, North America and Asia. For EurA, I have organised international symposia on hydrogen, renewable energies and integrated energy systems in addition to providing funding advice. My current consulting focus is on the funding instruments EIC Accelerator, Innovation Fund and "steuerliche Foschungszulage". The projects I have successfully managed come from a wide variety of topic fields, e.g. hydrogen electrolysis, biotech and medical devices, process engineering and mechanical engineering, recycling and circular economy or bio-based materials.

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