EIC Pathfinder (Challenges)

Convocatoria "cerrada"
Entidad convocante:
European Commission
Projectes de recerca
Plazo FSJD:
Up to €4 million

Horizon Europe is the ninth European Research and Innovation Framework programme (2021-2027).

Activity under Horizon Europe is primarily organised under three 'pillars':

  • Pillar I - Excellent Science
  • Pillar II - Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness
  • Pillar III - Innovative Europe

The European Innovation Council (EIC) is a significant part of Pillar III - Innovative Europe, which will target market-creating innovation and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) growth. The EIC is the European Commission's primary tool for identifying and supporting breakthrough technologies and significant innovations with the potential to scale up internationally and become market leaders.

The EIC supports all stages of innovation, from R&D on the scientific underpinnings of breakthrough technologies, to validation and demonstration of breakthrough technologies and innovations to meet real world needs, to the development and scaling up of start-ups and SMEs.

Financial support through the EIC is provided under three main instruments:

  • The EIC Pathfinder - for advanced research to develop the scientific basis to underpin breakthrough technologies.
  • The EIC Transition (new for Horizon Europe) - for transforming research results into innovation opportunities, and to validate technologies and develop business plans for specific applications. Applications must build on results from eligible Pathfinder or ERC Proof of Concept projects
  • The EIC Accelerator - to support companies (SMEs, start-ups, spin-outs and in exceptional cases small mid-caps) to bring their (usually high-risk/high-impact) innovations to market and scale up.

Support awarded by the EIC, and in particular in Pathfinder, is more than one-off funding of a research project. By covering the full innovation cycle, whenever possible EIC intends to push results to higher Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). All EIC funded projects and companies have access to a range of Business Acceleration Services providing access to leading expertise, corporates, investors and ecosystem actors.

EIC Pathfinder Challenges

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.

With each specific challenge call, the EIC will establish a portfolio of projects that explore different perspectives, competing approaches or complementary aspects of the Challenge. The complexity and high-risk nature of this research will require multi-disciplinary collaborations.

In 2021 these Challenges are:

Challenge: Awareness inside

For projects to: to develop new concepts of awareness that are applicable to systems other than human; to demonstrate and validate the role and added-value of such an awareness in an aware technology, class of artefacts or services; and to define an integrative approach for awareness engineering, its technological toolbox, the needs and implications and its limits, including ethical and regulatory requirements. 

Challenge: Tools to measure & stimulate activity in brain tissue

For projects to develop novel neurotechnologies to diagnose or treat brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerve-related disorders and which can be rapidly accepted by clinicians and patients. 

Challenge: Emerging technologies in cell & gene therapy

For breakthrough projects that propose novel concept-based technological solutions or technological platforms far beyond the current state-of-the-art with aim to tackling current bottlenecks from discovery to the manufacturing step towards clinical grade and thus, reinforce critical components of the European cell and gene therapy innovation-driven community.

Challenge: Novel routes to green hydrogen production

For projects to develop novel processes and technologies to produce Green H2, at different scales (from small to large) and with higher flexibility, entirely based on renewable sources and on the use of toxic free, non-critical raw materials. 

Challenge: Engineered living material

For projects to develop new technologies and platforms for the controlled and made-on-demand production of engineered living materials with multiple functionalities, shapes and scales.



Submissions may be made by consortia of at least three different independent legal entities (such as research organisations, universities, SMEs, start-ups, industry, natural persons) established in at least three different eligible countries (EU Member States and Associate Countries), of which at least one must be an EU Member State.

Single applicants may be able to apply according to the call specifications.

At the date of the publication of the work programme, there were no countries associated to Horizon Europe. However, it is anticipated that most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 will be associated to Horizon Europe by the time the first grant agreements under Horizon Europe are signed. Therefore, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, provided that the Horizon Europe association agreement with the particular country is live at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

Separate to this, applicants from low and middle income countries (LMICs) are eligible to apply.

The indicative total Budget in 2021 for the Pathfinder Challenges scheme is €132 million.

Grants of up to €4 million are available for the Challenges scheme to achieve the proof of principle and validate the scientific basis of breakthrough technology (eg TRL 1-4).


Applications to Europe4Health calls and topics must be submitted via the European Commission Funding and Tenders Portal.

More info at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/horizon/wp-call/2021/wp_horizon-eic-2021_en.pdf

In case of interest, please contact internacional(ELIMINAR)@fsjd.org