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The EIC Work Programme for 2024 – Opportunities across the full range of technology readiness

21st December 2023 at 9:27 am

Blog series 2/7: Pathfinder

Another year is quickly approaching, and new funding opportunities offered by the European Innovation Council (EIC) are on the horizon. The European Commission has recently published the EIC Work Programme for 2024, with new funding opportunities in their three key instruments: EIC Pathfinder, EIC Transition, and EIC Accelerator. The fundamental objectives surrounding them are to support research activities of different Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) and encourage interdisciplinary high-risk/high-gain collaborations to disrupt the science field and create new market opportunities.

Both the Pathfinder and the Transition instruments provide outstanding opportunities for motivated and ambitious researchers from start-ups, SMEs, industrial companies, universities and research organisations. The EIC Pathfinder will allocate up to 256 million euro in 2024 to support the research of radically new breakthrough technologies, to be funded through Open and Challenges calls. The EIC Transition will allocate up to 94 million euro in 2024 to support projects towards higher business and market readiness.

A closer look into the key EIC instruments and changes from last year

The EIC Pathfinder Open is looking to support innovations with the potential to address global challenges and create a potential for a new market, with grants of up to 3 million euro available from the EIC. The foreseen submission deadline is on 07 March 2024 and the HORIZON-EIC-2024-PATHFINDEROPEN-01 call is planned to open on 3 January 2024. The page limit for Part B of the proposal is 20 pages (instead of 17 pages in 2023). The award evaluation criteria and relative weight of each criterion remain like the previous years: “Excellence” (60%), “Impact” (20%), and “Implementation” (20%). The focus of the “Excellence” criteria is the long-term vision that the proposed technology can provide and the interdisciplinarity offered to bring about scientific breakthroughs. The “Impact” looks into the significance and innovation potential of proposed new technologies, and the measures to maximise communication and dissemination of project outcomes. Lastly, the quality and efficiency of the “Implementation” must be supported by a coherent and effective work plan and high-quality expertise from the consortium.

The EIC Pathfinder Challenges for 2024 offer funding of up to 4 million euro per project in five new Challenges calls:

  1. “Solar-to-X” devices for the decentralized prosumption of renewable fuels, chemicals and materials as climate change mitigation pathway.
  2. Towards cement and concrete as a carbon sink.
  3. Nature inspired alternatives for food packaging and films for agriculture.
  4. Nanoelectronics for energy-efficient smart edge devices.
  5. Strengthening the sustainability and resilience of EU space infrastructures.

The deadline for the EIC Pathfinder Challenges will be on 16 October 2024. Each specific Challenge addresses a cutting-edge direction in science innovation and technology development to create a new opportunity on the market. Due to the high-risk/high-gain nature of the research involved, interdisciplinary projects are greatly encouraged. The page limit for Part B of the proposal is set to 30 pages (instead of 25 pages in 2023).

Notably, as of 2024, the rebuttal process has been removed from the evaluation process of the Pathfinder Open and Challenges calls.

The EIC Transition goes a step further than the EIC Pathfinder in terms of technology and market readiness, funding innovation activities that go beyond the initial proof-of-concept of technology development. Most importantly, the EIC Transition provides support to exploit the results uncovered as part of the EIC Pathfinder projects, European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept projects, and Research and Innovation Actions (RIA). A key difference to the EIC Pathfinders evaluation is that the EIC Transition involves an interview as a second step to the proposal application. The interview with EIC jury members allows to further strengthen the “Excellence”, “Impact” and “Implementation” criteria of the application and is judged on ‘Go’ or ‘No-Go’ recommendations. There will be only one submission deadline for applications to the EIC Transition Open call, on 18 September 2024. Available grants are up to 2.5 million euro per project. The page limit for Part B of the proposal is 22 pages (instead of 20 pages in 2023). Importantly, there are no Transition Challenges in 2024.

A summary of the EIC funding opportunities 2024

A reliable Pathfinder partner for proposal, project management and communication support

After being involved in multiple FET Open projects (e.g., the ongoing FRINGE and CLASSY), the predecessor of the PF Open programme, we are very glad to be also involved in several recently funded EIC projects: three Pathfinder Open projects, namely CORENETPOLINA and PIONEAR, as well as the Pathfinder Challenge project PEARL-DNA. Whether you plan a resubmission or consider submitting a completely new proposal in 2024, we are curious to hear about your ideas and support your application with our extensive proposal writing experience (either with a full support or a review) and to support you project as an implementation partner for project management and for communication, dissemination and exploitation.

Dr. Jörn-Frederik Wotzlaw
Research & Innovation Project Manager

Dr. Anna Ziemele
Research & Innovation Project Associate

Blog series 2/7: Pathfinder