EIC Pathfinder

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The EIC (European Innovation Council) Pilot Programme’s main objective is to support innovative groups, start-ups, small companies and researchers with brilliant ideas that are radically different from existing products, services or business models, through projects with high international potential and high risk.

The total indicative budget for this call is €343 million.


The basic characteristics that any Pathfinder proposal has to comply are described below:

  • Convincing, long-term vision and exploitation
  • Disruptive and clearly identified scientific and technological approach: project results should include top-level scientific publications as well as an adequate formal protection of the generated Intellectual Property
  • Concrete, novel and ambitious: if your project is aimed at new stages of development on existing concepts, or to give continuity to previous projects, your idea is not Pathfinder.
  • Foundational: if the project does not provide a new line of research that develops a hitherto unestablished technology, it is not a Pathfinder concept.
  • High risk: if your research methodology is not aimed at exploring new and unknown territories, involving a high risk and degree of benefit, it is not Pathfinder-Open material. That is, with a high social and economic (market) impact.
  • Collaborative and interdisciplinarity research.
  • Project are also encouraged to empower female researchers and to achieve gender balance among the work package leaders.


The degree of maturity at the end of the project (TRL) should be lower than 5. It is stipulated that the proposed research is directed towards a concrete development through the feasible consolidation of a radically novel technology with utility in future applications, thus defining its essential scientific foundations (proof of concept).

If you are a researcher risky enough to participate in the PATHFINDER programme, I encourage you to come up with ideas that go beyond what is currently established. It is not enough to improve what already exists, but to propose new lines of research that will allow us to design the future scientific and technological paradigms of society at European level. Do you dare to dream?


This line aims to support the early stage development of these future technologies based on high-risk/high-gain research in science towards technological breakthrough.

Within the EIC-PATHFINDER line, we can find unique funding schemes that support innovative research groups and companies to develop disruptive concepts to lead the European Union towards the exploration of new markets in a global growth system. There are you main types of EIC Pathfnder calls: open or challenges.

EIC PATHFINDER-OPEN: to support projects in any field of science, technology or application without predefined thematic priorities (‘bottom-up’).

 EIC PATHFINDER-CHALLENGES: to support coherent portfolios of projects within predefined thematic areas with the aim to achieve specific objectives for each Challenge, for example: clean and efficient cooling; architecture, engineering and construction digitalisation for a novel triad of design, fabrication and materials; precision nutrition; responsible electronics; in-space solar energy harvesting for innovative space applications

Scope: Europe

Budget : 3.000.000 €

Organisation : European Commission

Nature of the project: Business Development - R&D

This grant must have as beneficiaries legal entities as for example universities, research organisations, SMEs, start-ups, industrial partners or natural persons. There are usually 3 to 5 multidisciplinary partners.

In the open call, proposals must be submitted by the coordinator, on behalf of a consortium including as beneficiaries at least three legal entities, independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows: at least 1 legal entity established in a Member State; and at least 2 other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.

In the challenges call, single legal entities established in a Member State or an Associated Country could also apply (mid-caps and larger companies will not be permitted). Also, small consortia of two entities, that must be two independent legal entities from two different Member States or Associated Countries.

Projects funded through EIC Pathfinder are eligible to receive additional EIC Booster grants with fixed amounts of up to €50,000 to undertake complementary activities to explore potential commercialisation pathways or for portfolio activities; submit an EIC Transition proposal; submit an EIC Accelerator proposal through the fast track system; to participate in ‘Next Generation Innovation Talents’ scheme. In addition to funding, successful applicants will receive free access to a wide range of Business Accelerator Services.

This is a grant for a research and innovation action covering the eligible costs necessary for the implementation of your project. For the open call, the EIC considers proposals requesting an EU contribution of up to EUR 3 million as appropriate; 4 million for the challenge call.

However, this does not preclude applying for higher amounts, if adequately justified. The funding rate of this grant will be 100% of the eligible costs.