EIC Pathfinder Open or Challenge – same programme, big differences
8th August 2023 at 4:33 pm
The European Innovation Council’s (EIC) Pathfinder funding instruments, the Pathfinder Open and the Pathfinder Challenges, aim to translate cutting-edge scientific concepts into groundbreaking technologies that will shape the future. Pathfinder (PF) projects must explore novel approaches and develop innovative solutions that have the potential to disrupt entire fields and markets or create entirely new opportunities. Just like its predecessor (Future and Emerging Technologies (FET)), it is a highly competitive funding scheme with success rates of around 5% in the first calls of Horizon Europe.
As much as it may seem the ideal scheme for funding, be aware that the focus of a successful proposal in the EIC Pathfinder is exploring a bold and visionary idea through high-risk/high-gain science-towards-technology interdisciplinary research. If your proposal does not live up to these keywords, the chances of being approved are non-existent. Our Strategic Grant Planning (SGP) service can support you in identifying if the EIC Pathfinder is the best funding opportunity for your idea.
What does the EIC Pathfinder offer?
The EIC Pathfinder consists of two different approaches. While the PF Open supports projects in any field of science, technology and application (bottom-up approach), the PF Challenge supports projects within predefined thematic areas (top-down approach).
In case you have submitted a PF Open in the last calls and were not successful, your proposal may still be suitable for one of the EIC PF Challenges with a deadline on 18 October 2023. These are the available challenges or topics:
- Clean and efficient cooling: advancing scientific knowledge and technological development of novel, clean and efficient cooling solutions that fully underpin the “cold economy” vision.
- Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) digitalisation for a novel triad of design, fabrication, and materials: realisation of disruptive solutions for AEC in computational design and digital fabrication solutions.
- Precision nutrition: investigate the interactions among nutrition, human gut microbiome and glycans beyond the state-of-the-art, to better clarify the role of diet in human health, including the interactions of whole plant foods, highly processed food and fermented foods with human gut microbiome and glycans.
- Responsible electronics: 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: development of technology for energy harvesting in-space, wireless power transmission and green propulsion solutions.
What are the differences between PF Open and PF Challenge?
For each specific Pathfinder Challenge, the EIC will establish a portfolio of projects exploring different perspectives, competing approaches and complementary aspects of that Challenge. This is the biggest difference from Pathfinder Open, hence the importance of following the respective Challenge Guide to the letter.
While your project idea might fit into a Pathfinder Challenge call, it is important that you outline its complementary and distinctive approach to fit a portfolio of projects that will fulfil the challenge. This is an additional endeavour that a PF Open does not have. If you have a rejected PF Open whose topic fits a currently available PF Challenge, with some effort it is perfectly possible to make the proposal suitable for the latter.
Our experience in the EIC Pathfinder
The Pathfinder programme generates highly innovative results and provides exciting insights into a potential future world. We are very glad to be involved in five EIC-funded projects: the FET Open FRINGE and CLASSY, the Pathfinder Open CORENET and POLINA (currently in grant agreement preparation) and the Pathfinder Challenge PEARL-DNA. We supported them with our many years of Proposal Writing throughout their application process and are now still involved with Project Management and Dissemination. Whether you plan a resubmission or a completely new proposal, we are curious to hear about your ideas!
Research & Innovation Project Manager
Dr. Jörn-Frederik Wotzlaw
Research & Innovation Project Manager