EIC Pathfinder

The EIC Pathfinder aims to translate radically new technology concepts and cutting-edge research into breakthrough technologies in the long term. Pathfinder projects aim to demonstrate new and cutting-edge directions in science and technology to disrupt an existing market and create new opportunities through innovative technological solutions. For the 2023 work period, both Open and Challenge calls are foreseen.

The EIC Pathfinder Open - Developing novel ideas

This instrument is aimed at interdisciplinary teams and consortia of scientists and innovative entrepreneurs with a vision for breakthrough technologies. Funding supports basic research and early-stage development of these new technologies with the aim of achieving a "proof of principle". This means validation of the scientific basis of the breakthrough technology, as well as a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 1-4 development stage must be in place. The expected outcome of a project is proof of principle that the ideas of the targeted breakthrough technology are feasible and can be validated. The project results should include high-profile scientific publications in open access.
SMEs are encouraged to collaborate with research institutions or universities on an interdisciplinary basis. Individual funding is not possible.
Individual collaborative projects can receive up to 4 million euros. For 2023, a total of 179.5 million euros is earmarked for Pathfinder projects in the "Open" category.

Conditions for participation:

  • No thematic requirements
  • No individual funding possible. In Pathfinder Open projects, a consortium must consist of at least three independent institutions from three different EU Member States or Associated States.

Funding in Pathfinder Open:

  • Eligible projects should fulfil the following basic characteristics (so-called gatekeepers):
    • Compelling long-term vision of a radically new technology that has the potential to have a transformative positive effect on our economy and society.
    • Concrete, novel and ambitious science-to-technology breakthrough that offers progress towards the targeted technology.
    • High-risk/high-gain research approach and methodology with concrete and plausible goals.
  • Goal: Long-term implementation of radically new technology concepts;
  • Funding rate: 100 percent of eligible costs;
  • Projects funded under the EIC Pathfinder are also eligible for the following instruments:
    • "EIC Booster": here it is possible to receive grants with fixed amounts of up to 50,000 euros to carry out complementary activities. This is to facilitate the path to commercialisation.
    • EIC Transition application under certain conditions.  
    • EIC Accelerator application: Here it is possible to submit an accelerator application via the Fast Track programme.
    • Participation in the 'Next Generation Innovation Talents' programme. The staff costs of researchers participating in this programme are eligible under the Pathfinder grants.

In addition to funding, successful applicants will receive tailored access to a wide range of Business Accelerator services (BAS).

Budget

A total of 179.5 million euros is available as a total budget for the 2023 deadline. 4 million euros are earmarked per project. Higher project budgets can also be applied for with very good justification.

Application procedure for Pathfinder Open

  • Applications with a maximum of 17 A4 pages in English;

  • Evaluation of applications: The focus is on excellence (weighting up to 60 percent); in addition, "Impact" (20 percent) as well as "Quality and Efficiency of Implementation" (20 percent);

  • One-stage application process.

     

Schedule

The schedule is designed so that the project can start about 8 months after the deadline:

Deadlines:

Applications can be submitted in Pathfinder Open on an ongoing basis.
There will be a deadline in 2023 when applications received by then will be evaluated: 7 March 2023 at 17:00.

EIC Pathfinder Challenges

The EIC Pathfinder Challenges aims to create new opportunities based on high-risk/high-gain research and development. The aim is to realise innovative and technological solutions in research and development that are high-risk.
With specific "Challenges" or challenges, the EIC will create a portfolio of projects covering different perspectives, competing approaches or complementary aspects. The complexity and high-risk nature of this research requires multidisciplinary collaboration.

Up to €4 million can be awarded to individual collaborative projects. Higher project budgets can also be applied for with very good justification. A total budget of 163.5 million euros is planned for 2023, which will be distributed roughly equally for all "Challenges".

The topics or five "Challenges" for 2023 are given as follows:

Clean and efficient cooling
This EIC Pathfinder Challenge aims to advance the technological development of novel, clean and efficient cooling solutions through scientific knowledge, and to fully integrate them into a "cooling economy". To this end, projects should explore the potential of new devices, processes, components and materials for the clean generation, storage and/or transport of cold, such as:

  • Transformational research that could displace existing technologies (such as functionalised phase change materials (PCM), thermophotonic cooling, reversible combustion materials, etc.).
  • Integration of renewable energies, waste heat utilisation or energy harvesting for cooling (e.g. passive cooling, radiant and solar cooling, absorption and hybrid heat pumps, waste heat utilisation, heat conduction).
  • Storage and transport of cooling (decoupling of demand/generation) and integration options at system level.
  • Integration of innovative and low-CO2 cooling concepts, especially in industrial sectors.

Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) digitalisation for a novel triad of design, fabrication, and materials
The main focus of this Challenge is on early-stage innovations that integrate digitalisation with the new triad of design, fabrication, and materials. In particular, innovations that generate breakthrough solutions for the digitisation of AEC value chains. Ideas that are limited to operational CO2 emissions and/or operational energy efficiency do not fall within the scope of this Challenge. This Challenge encourages the realisation of as yet unknown or even previously unforeseen solutions for AEC, considering, among others, the following:

  • "Computational Design" and other solutions that advance the state of the art of algorithmically generated design, topology optimisation, agent-based modelling, physical simulation, digital representations such as digital twins, and nature-inspired design.
  • "Digital Fabrication" or Digital Manufacturing Solutions synchronously with a huge potential of almost unlimited complexity of algorithmic design, especially when considering offsite manufacturing facilities.
  • Alternative materials as an area to demonstrate the unification of digital design and digital fabrication technologies in the AEC sector to ultimately significantly reduce (net-zero) cement use and associated CO2 emissions.


Precision nutrition
This "Challenge" funds multidisciplinary research proposals that include aspects of nutrition, microbiome and glycans research. The research focus may be on one or more of the specific challenge objectives. Proposals are expected to explore interactions between nutrition, the human gut microbiome and glycans beyond the state of the art to better elucidate the role of nutrition in human health, including, for example, interactions of whole plant foods, highly processed meats and fermented foods with the human gut microbiome and glycans. The aim of this Challenge is to investigate the role of nutrition in obesity and non-communicable diseases (NDCs), provide scientific evidence for alleviating the consequences of obesity and NDCs on health and well-being, and pave the way for the development of novel foods tailored to individual nutritional needs. The following are the objectives of the Challenge.

  • Confirm and quantify causal relationships between nutrition, microbiome and glycans, with a strong focus on factors with significant impact on human nutrition. Provide scientific evidence to develop dietary recommendations for obesity and certain non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
  • Identify food ingredients, food technological processes, additives and dietary patterns that adversely affect human health, ageing, the microbiome and glycom, so that appropriate measures can be implemented during the production of novel foods and dietary patterns.
  • Identify food ingredients, food technological processes and additives that have beneficial effects on human health, ageing, microbiome, glycoma and subsequent development of non-communicable diseases.
  • Provide scientific evidence to develop nutritional recommendations for targeted modification of the microbiome.
  • Provide scientific evidence and process/product development recommendations for reformulation of processed foods with no or fewer additives.
  • Provide scientific evidence and process/product development recommendations for the design of novel foods tailored to individual nutritional needs.

Responsible electronics
The aim of the Challenge is to create opportunities for the discovery of new environmentally friendly electronic materials, thereby reducing their impact on the environment and the need for critical raw materials and hazardous chemicals. Projects will seek to develop either materials with improved properties (such as flexibility, durability, recyclability/end-of-life reusability), materials with low energy consumption and processing with a low carbon footprint (such as printing instead of photolithography, avoiding the use of fluorinated gases), or alternatives, including nanoscale ones, to replace common materials such as silicon and silicon nitride. The specific objectives are to help the scientific community achieve breakthroughs in the development/discovery of the following:

  • Advanced electronic materials for unconventional devices.
  • Advanced processes.
  • Unconventional applications including e-textile/e-skin.

In particular, those applications that are suitable for Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications, considering the whole life cycle.

In-space solar energy harvesting for innovative space applications.
This "Challenge" covers the development of technologies required for in-space energy harvesting and transmission, as well as novel propulsion technologies that utilise this harvested energy. Project proposals submitted for this Challenge should address at least one of the fields below. In particular, targeted research and development is required to achieve the following:

  • Scalable solutions (e.g. solar energy harvesting antennas, photovoltaic cells on board spacecraft) for efficient collection and storage of solar energy (in-orbit).
  • Conversion of the harvested energy into a form suitable for transmission over long distances in empty space.
  • Efficient wireless and secure power transfer of the transformed energy between in-space equipment on spacecraft and retransmission stations or other end receivers. This may require a network of retransmission stations that not only amplify the wireless transmission but also reroute the transmission when needed.
  • Innovative environmentally friendly propulsion solutions for mobility in space, leading to cost-effective or environmentally friendly innovative concepts.

Conditions of participation:

  • Topics are predefined.
  • In Pathfinder Challenges projects, a consortium must consist of at least two independent legal entities from two Member or Associated States. For consortia of three partners or more, the Pathfinder Open rules apply. Alternatively, calls are also open to individual applicants (not large companies) from Member or Associated States.

Funding in Pathfinder Challenges

  • Eligible activities:
    • New research ideas;
    • Building relevant research communities;
    • Developing industrial research agendas;
  • Goal: Build emerging themes and research landscapes;
  • Funding rate: 100 percent of eligible costs.
  • Eligible projects are also eligible for the following additional services:
    • Business Acceleration Services (BAS): Free support measures such as coaching, mentoring, matchmaking activities.
    • "EIC Booster": Here it is possible to receive grants with fixed amounts of up to 50,000 euros to carry out complementary activities. This is intended to facilitate the path to commercialisation.
    • EIC Transition application under certain conditions.  
    • EIC Accelerator application: Here it is possible to submit an accelerator application via the Fast Track programme.
    • Participation in the 'Next Generation Innovation Talents' programme. The personnel costs of researchers participating in this programme are eligible under the Pathfinder grants.

 

Budget

A total budget of 163.5 million euros is available for the 2023 deadline. The plan is to invest about 4 million euros per project. Higher project budgets can also be applied for with very good justification.

Application procedure for Pathfinder Challenges

  • Applications with a maximum of 25 A4 pages in English;
  • One-stage application process;
  • Evaluation of applications: The evaluation is in two steps. In step one, as with the Pathfinder Open in the area of excellence (weighting up to 60 percent); in addition, "Impact" (20 percent) and "Quality and Efficiency of Implementation" (20 percent) are evaluated. In step 2 (portfolio considerations), a team of evaluators examines the contribution of each project proposal to the construction of a consistent "Challenge" portfolio.

Schedule

The schedule is designed so that the project can start about 8 months after the deadline:

Deadlines:

Applications can be submitted in Pathfinder Open on an ongoing basis.
There will be a deadline in 2023 when applications received by then will be evaluated: 7 March 2023 at 17:00.

Do you have an idea for an EIC Pathfinder project? Contact BayFOR's Unit for SME advisory services:

Dipl.-Jur. Natalia García Mozo

Natalia García Mozo
Head of Unit SME Advisory Services
Phone: +49 89 9901888-171
Email: mozo@no-spam-pleasebayfor.org

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