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Do you dare to solve one of the challenges proposed by EIC Pathfinder?

EIC Pathfinder

Pathfinder is the call that – within the European Innovation Council (EIC) programme and under the umbrella of Horizon Europe – supports the exploration of disruptive ideas into radically new technologies.

The EIC Pathfinder awards grants to high-risk, cutting-edge projects that explore new and deep-tech areas intending to become potential future technologies that generate new market opportunities. Its overall objective is to make a proof of concept of these revolutionary ideas.

Thus, applicants participating in EIC Pathfinder projects are typically visionary scientists and entrepreneurial researchers from universities, research organisations, start-ups, high-tech SMEs, or industry players interested in disruptive innovation.

The two EIC Pathfinder calls for proposals

Pathfinder is divided into two main calls for proposals. The first, called Open, provides funding for projects in any field of science or technology, based on innovative interdisciplinary research, without predetermined themes (bottom-up approach). This call closed on 7 March.

The second call, Challenges, will open on 20 June and close on 18 October 2023. With a budget of 163.5 million euros, it is structured around challenges in which the objectives, expected results, and impacts, as well as the specific conditions for participation, are defined in great detail following a top-down approach.

Projects must involve consortia of researchers and other partners from at least three different countries, but, in the case of the EIC Pathfinder Challenges, there are also opportunities for individual teams and small consortia of two partners.

Grants can reach up to €3 million for an Open or €4 million for a project under Challenges. The grants are intended to support technological innovation from the early development phase through to proof of concept (activities at low Technology Maturity Levels – TRLs – from 1 to 4). Pathfinder projects can also receive additional funding to test the innovation potential of their research results.

The challenges of the EIC Pathfinder

The challenges for 2023 are the following:

  • Clean and efficient cooling. This challenge aims to explore the potential of new devices, processes, components, and materials for the generation, storage, and/or transport of clean cooling.
  • Architecture, Engineering, and Construction digitalisation for a novel triad of design, fabrication, and materials. This challenge seeks to realise disruptive solutions for AEC: New algorithmic design solutions, Digital fabrication solutions, and Alternative materials.
  • Precision nutrition. The aim is to investigate and provide scientific evidence of the role of diet in diet-related diseases such as obesity and malnutrition, and chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
  • Responsible electronics. The purpose of this challenge is the discovery of new environmentally friendly electronic materials, reducing environmental impact and the need for critical raw materials and hazardous chemicals.
  • In-space solar energy harvesting for innovative space applications. The aim of this challenge includes the development of technology needed for in-space energy harvesting and transmission, and of new propulsion technologies using this energy.

While the opportunities offered by EIC Pathfinder are very attractive, the race for funding is very demanding. In the previous Pathfinder Challenges call, which closed in October 2022, 44 out of 436 projects were funded, equivalent to a success rate of 10% and grants of €167 million (average funding per project was €3.8 million). There were 259 participants from 29 countries: 46% from academia, 26% from research organisations, and 22% from private entities, with the remaining applicants falling outside these categories.


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