Innovation Fund: Overwhelming response to the 2023 net-zero technologies call


The Innovation Fund’s 2023 call for proposals for net-zero technologies (IF23 Call) has received 337 applications from 27 countries. These proposals will compete for the call’s €4 billion budget to support the deployment of innovative clean technologies using revenues from the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

The total funding requested by all applications amounts to EUR 24.6 billion, over six times the available budget. This would have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1.4 billion tonnes of CO2equivalent achieved over the first ten years of operation.

The number of applications in the main categories supported by the Innovation Fund are:

  • 204 for energy-intensive industries, including carbon capture, use, and storage
  • 64 for renewable energy
  • 35 for energy storage
  • 34 for mobility, including maritime, aviation and road transport

The IF23 call invited applications from projects under five topics according to their scale with a dedicated topic for cleantech manufacturing and for pilot projects. The topic with the greatest number of applications received was general large-scale projects with 137 applications, followed by cleantech manufacturing with 56 applications, general medium-scale projects and pilots with 51 applications each, and general small-scale projects with 42 applications.

The IF23 Call’s noteworthy number of applications and unprecedented budget of €4 billion confirms the crucial role the Innovation Fund plays in supporting European cleantech front-runners and to scale up the EU’s manufacturing capacity for net-zero technologies. The EU is committed to strengthening Europe’s cleantech manufacturing capacity, competitiveness and supply chain resilience as set out in the Net-Zero Industry Act. The results of the call show huge potential to contribute to the EU’s suggested 90% target for greenhouse gas emissions reduction set out in the 2040 climate target Communication.  They will also support the energy and climate priorities set out in the Green Deal Industrial Plan, REPowerEU Plan and by the European Hydrogen Bank. 

In terms of sectors, most applications relate to chemicals and hydrogen. Thanks to the revision of the ETS Directive, the newly eligible sectors reflect high interest in the programme with more than 70% of the applications submitted under the mobility category coming from maritime, followed by aviation and road transport.

For cleantech manufacturing projects, the budget available has been doubled to €1.4 billion. Applications received cover all types of technologies promising to enhance Europe’s innovation and industrial capacity and to secure Europe’s strategic autonomy. The largest share of applications for manufacturing of components goes to hydrogen production. This is closely followed by the manufacturing of components for the battery value chain, subsequently followed by proposals for manufacturing of various components for renewable energy, solar, wind and heat pumps.

“The Innovation Fund is a major catalyst to boost EU cleantech value chains, bolstering the EU’s green industrial leadership and reducing external dependencies and costs. Using the revenues of emissions trading to invest in the green transition, it will ensure that EU industries can thrive in the decarbonised economy of the future.”

Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight


“The Innovation Fund call brings us excellent news with 337 projects applications covering 27 countries. Now the evaluation and selection process starts, but we can already salute EU industry’s commitment to innovating and boosting clean tech at home. With a €4 billion budget and €1.4 billion dedicated to clean tech manufacturing, we are putting the revenues from EU emissions trading to good use to support European innovative cleantech industry and progress on the road to net-zero and our climate targets.”

Wopke Hoekstra, European Commissioner for Climate Action

The IF23 call’s closure coincides with the release of the Clean Transition Dialogues stocktake which accounts for the dialogues between the European Commission and industry on supporting the latter in building its business model fit for a decarbonised economy. This communication also provides input on a few building blocks that can contribute to the reinforced industrial approach in line with a sustainable Europe. The call closure also coincides with the Innovation Fund’s 2024 Cleantech Conference which discussed pathways to support European manufacturing of cleantech devices and their components.

Next Steps:

The European Executive Agency for Climate, Infrastructure and Environment (CINEA) will immediately begin with the evaluation the applications against the admissibility and eligibility criteria. Then, the proposals passing this first step, will be assessed against the award criteria.

Applicants will be informed of the evaluation results in the fourth quarter of 2024 and successful applicants will sign grant agreements in the first quarter of 2025. Promising projects that are not sufficiently mature for receiving a grant or are not selected due to budget limitations may benefit from  Project Development Assistance (PDA).

Due to the budget oversubscription, it is possible that a number of projects are not awarded a grant despite meeting all evaluation criteria.  These projects will be awarded a Seal of Sovereignty (as introduced in the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform) which will facilitate their funding from other sources (for instance, other European or national programmes).


The Innovation Fund is one of the world’s largest funding programmes for the deployment of net-zero and innovative technologies, and is a key instrument to reach Europe’s climate neutrality goals. With a focus on energy, industry and mobility sectors, the Fund aims to incentivise companies and public authorities to invest in cutting-edge low-carbon technologies located in EEA countries.

The Fund has an estimated budget of €40 billion from the revenues from the auctioning of allowances under the EU ETS between 2020 and 2030 (based on a carbon price of €75/ton CO2). The Innovation Fund has already awarded around €6.5 billion to more than 100 innovative projects through its previous calls for proposals.

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