EIC Pathfinder Challenge: DNA-Based Digital Data Storage

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European Commission
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EIC Pathfinder Challenges are designed to build on new, cutting-edge directions in science and technology to disrupt a field and a market or create new opportunities by realising innovative technological solutions grounded in high-risk/high-gain research and development. The EIC is seeking new technological solutions at early stage of development that are new and disrupt standard practice.

This EIC Pathfinder Challenge is to explore scalable and reliable high-throughput approaches for using DNA as a general data-storage medium. Solutions would thus need to address the read/write/edit operations of digital data in synthetic DNA, capturing the expected advantages of high density and stability/longevity of this form of data storage. The use of DNA sequences as chassis for non-standard forms of information coding, or of other polymeric substrates and related coding/decoding techniques are also in scope, provided they entail at least similar benefits than state of-the-art DNA approaches.

Proposed techniques should deliver qualitative advances in key parameters such as throughput, DNA-length (well above a few hundred mers), reliability (coupling efficiency), speed and cost. Beyond the usual storage applications, there is also scope for radically different scenarios for such a technology, for instance for data-processing, in-vivo sensing or fingerprinting

The following specific objectives for this Challenge have been defined:

  • New approaches for coding, decoding, modification or computational use of digital data in synthetic DNA or other sequence-controllable polymers with quantitative targets (theoretical and technological).
  • Proof-of-Concept of technical feasibility with indications of at least state of the art benefits and major operational characteristics (eg, extreme densities, longevity, stability) and going well beyond for some of them (eg, speed, cost, accuracy).
  • End-to-end scenarios of use, be it for data storage (archival, but also shorter term storage) or other purposes (like sensing, cryptography or computation) that exploit the benefits of the technology.

Grants of up to EUR 4 million (challenge driven) (or more if properly justified) to achieve the proof of principle and validate the scientific basis of breakthrough technology (TRL 1-4)


Proposals for this Challenge can be submitted by single applicants or by consortia, as dictated by the activities to be performed.


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