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The EIC Pathfinder Programme 2024 – An Overview

April 11, 2024

Danielle Wallis
Marketing Manager

The EIC Pathfinder Programme 2024 – An Overview

The European Innovation Council (EIC) Pathfinder programme drives innovation across the EU, aiming to lay the foundational groundwork for breakthrough technologies. Through its 2024 edition, the programme seeks to propel early-stage, ambitious research and development (R&D) projects. Within the EIC Pathfinder framework, there are two primary avenues for funding: the EIC Pathfinder Open and the EIC Pathfinder Challenges. The Pathfinder Open invites applications without thematic boundaries, whereas the EIC Pathfinder Challenges offer funding in specifically targeted domains.

EIC Pathfinder Open

First off, let’s talk about the Open call, designed to be as inclusive and broad as possible to encourage submissions for ambitious projects across any field of science, technology, or application. This openness is intended to spur creativity and innovation in areas that may not fit into conventional categories or current market demands. The programme is particularly suited for projects that are at the very early stages of technological development, where the potential for a breakthrough is high, but the direction may still be undefined. With a funding pool of €136 million, successful projects not only receive financial backing but also access to a comprehensive suite of business acceleration services.  

Key features of the EIC Pathfinder Open include:

  • Broad Scope: There are no thematic restrictions, making it an attractive option for interdisciplinary projects that defy categorisation.
  • Early-Stage Funding: It targets research and development activities at low Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), specifically from TRL 1 to 4, supporting projects from the conceptual stage through to proof of principle.
  • Collaboration and Innovation: By requiring consortia to apply, the programme fosters collaboration across borders and disciplines, combining diverse expertise to tackle ambitious projects.

EIC Pathfinder Challenges

Contrastingly, the EIC Pathfinder Challenges are more focused, targeting specific thematic areas deemed critical for future technological advancements and societal needs. These challenges are carefully selected based on their potential to drive significant impact, align with EU policy objectives, and address global challenges. Each challenge comes with its own set of goals and expected outcomes, guiding applicants on the specific issues and technologies the EIC aims to advance.

Key aspects of the EIC Pathfinder Challenges include:

  • Thematic Focus: Each challenge is centred around a specific technological area or societal challenge, providing a clearer direction for applicants on the types of projects that are eligible.
  • Portfolio Approach: The aim is not just to fund individual projects but to build a coherent portfolio of projects that can collectively advance the state of the art in the challenge area. This approach encourages not only competition but also collaboration and knowledge sharing among the selected projects.
  • Guided by Programme Managers: EIC Programme Managers oversee each challenge, guiding the development of a common roadmap for the portfolio and facilitating interactions among projects. This proactive management helps steer the collective efforts towards achieving the challenge’s objectives.

Spotlight on the 2024 Pathfinder Challenges

  1. Solar-to-X Technologies: Targeted at innovators aiming to redefine the landscape of synthetic fuels and chemical technologies through solar energy. This challenge envisions a future where communities are empowered to produce their own essential resources, in line with the EU's climate neutrality ambitions.
  1. Decarbonising Cement and Concrete: With the building sector's significant carbon footprint, this challenge calls for innovative pathways to achieve carbon-negative cement and concrete solutions, a critical step towards the EU's ambitious emission reduction targets.
  1. Nature-Inspired Alternatives for Packaging and Agriculture: This challenge focuses on replacing fossil-carbon-based plastics in the food packaging and agricultural sectors with sustainable materials, promoting a shift towards a more circular and environmentally conscious economy.
  1. Nanoelectronics for Energy-Efficient Smart Edge Devices: This challenge concentrates on reducing the power consumption of smart edge devices through advancements in nanoelectronics, contributing to the EU’s broader sustainability goals.
  1. Strengthening EU Space Infrastructure Sustainability and Resilience: Addressing the growing concern of space debris, this challenge advocates for technologies that support debris mitigation and promote in-space recycling, aiming to protect the EU's space infrastructure.

Choosing Between Open and Challenges

When deciding whether to apply for the EIC Pathfinder Open or a specific Pathfinder Challenge, consider the nature of your project and its alignment with a challenge area. If it does fit with the competition scope, it’s usually a no-brainer to apply for a specific challenge.  

However, if you don’t have a project that’s the perfect fit for a Challenge area, the Open call is a great avenue to explore, offering more freedom and suitable for projects that are exploratory or interdisciplinary in nature, without a clear fit within existing categories.

Eligibility

Both sides of the EIC Pathfinder invite a broad spectrum of innovators—from researchers and entrepreneurs to consortia across Europe. The programme is open to applicants from EU Member States and Associated Countries.

If your project has the potential to significantly impact the technological landscape and societal progress, Inventya can be your partner. Our expertise in helping companies write and submit European funding applications positions us uniquely to support your ambitions. We're here to assist in aligning your project with the most suitable EIC Pathfinder opportunity, enhancing the strength of your application and improving your chances of success. Book a free consultation here: Contact (inventya.com).

April 11, 2024
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