In addition to the open EIC Pathfinder Call, the European Innovation Council (EIC) is also calling for participation in the thematic Challenges this autumn. The aim is to launch high-risk technological research and development projects that have the potential to transform existing markets or even open new ones. The EIC Pathfinder Challenges focus on topics that pose a challenge to the European economy and society. The deadline for applications to the EIC Pathfinder Challenges is the 18th of October 2023.

EIC Pathfinder Challenges in 2023


Each specific EIC Pathfinder Challenge aims to attract a broad portfolio of research and development projects on a specific topic. The projects and their respective scientific approaches may be different, competing or complementary. Furthermore, due to their complexity and scientific or methodological risk, the projects should be carried out in interdisciplinary consortia.

How much funding is available?

The budget for this year's thematic call is €163.5 million. If funded, project teams will receive up to €4 million, with a 100% funding rate for all applicants. In justified cases, a higher funding amount is possible. A successful application will also give project teams access to helpful services and community activities within their project portfolio, as well as contact with EIC programme managers. In addition, a successful application to the EIC Pathfinder opens opportunities for other lucrative funding.

Which project proposals are funded?

Project proposals that have the potential to generate cutting-edge technology are eligible to apply for funding under the EIC Pathfinder Challenges. In addition, funded projects must contribute to the overall research objective of an EIC Pathfinder Challenge. The results of the project must be published in a scientific publication and the intellectual property must be protected accordingly.

The EIC Pathfinder Challenges also aim to support young talent and early-stage researchers, as well as promising small and medium-sized high-tech companies or start-ups. Female scientists should also be encouraged in their work. The EIC therefore encourages applicants to create teams that are as diverse and balanced as possible.

Who can apply?

In principle, project proposals submitted by consortia, i.e., project teams with several project partners, will be supported. However, Pathfinder Challenges also accept applications from individual applicants. In the case of consortia, it must be ensured that the partners are independent legal entities and come from different EU Member States or countries associated with the EU, such as Albania, Israel or Georgia. Consortia with two partners need two different countries, consortia with three or more partners need at least three different countries. It is important that at least one partner is in an EU country.

How to apply?

You can apply via the European Commission's online portal for grants and calls for proposals until the 18th of October 2023. You will receive feedback on your application within five months.

Goals & Topics of the EIC Pathfinder Challenges

  1. Clean and efficient cooling

In the future, cooling will become increasingly important for sustainable urban development, food security and socio-economic development in the EU. In many sectors, such as construction, data centres, food production or even refrigerated transport, the demand for cooling systems is increasing and the common cooling processes lead to significant greenhouse gas emissions. With rising energy prices threatening the competitiveness of sectors with high cooling demand, the availability of efficient and cost-effective cooling technologies will be crucial.

The first EIC Pathfinder Challenge aims to generate scientific knowledge on clean, novel and efficient cooling solutions and to develop technological applications that support the vision of a "cold economy". It will explore the potential of new cooling devices, processes, components and materials for the generation, storage or transport of clean cooling.

  1. Architecture, Engineering and Construction digitalisation for a novel triad of design, fabrication, and materials

By 2050, 70 percent of the world's population is expected to live in urban areas. In order to maintain and improve the social, cultural, aesthetic and environmental quality of life in cities, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the building sector needs to innovate.

That is why the EIC Pathfinder has launched a challenge to digitise the construction sector. The aim is to trigger changes in the value chains of architecture, engineering and construction. The challenge focuses on novel and disruptive approaches to the design and manufacture of materials. The key to change lies in novel algorithms and advanced digitalisation, which is why the EIC supports projects dedicated to exceptional design solutions based on algorithms. Approaches to the digital production of materials are also eligible, for example the development of new 3D printing techniques or the use of alternative materials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  1. Precision nutrition

The importance of population health has recently been highlighted by the recent pandemic years. Nutritional science is increasingly exploring the role of diet in the overall health of a population. For example, certain diets may have a pro-inflammatory effect. The aim of this EIC Pathfinder Challenge is therefore to investigate and scientifically prove the role of diet in diet-related pathologies and non-communicable diseases. Based on this, recommendations will be developed for the reformulation of new food products and processes with no or fewer additives.

  1. Responsible electronics

Responsible electronics represent a unique opportunity for industry in a decarbonised and digital society. Responsible electronics can contribute to a dramatic reduction in environmental impact. Traditional industrial manufacturing will be replaced by innovative methods and materials with a lower environmental impact. The fourth EIC Pathfinder Challenge aims to create opportunities for the discovery of new green electronic materials, thereby reducing environmental impact and the need for critical raw materials and hazardous chemicals.

  1. In-space solar energy harvesting for innovative space applications

As a virtually unlimited source of energy, thermonuclear reactions in the sun are still very little used. At the same time, increasing satellite launches, the advancement of mega-constellations in low-Earth orbit, the advent of in-orbit satellite servicing and active debris removal mean higher energy requirements for the ever-increasing mobility of spacecraft in space. The goal of this EIC Pathfinder Challenge is to develop technologies required for power generation and transmission in space. In addition, novel propulsion technologies that use the energy generated in space will be designed and investigated.

Executive summary

The EIC Pathfinder Challenges bring to the fore topics that are highly explosive for the European economy and society. The theme-specific call is aimed at researchers and developers with high-risk technological project proposals. The EIC Pathfinder Challenges will fund projects up to €4 million at a funding rate of 100%.

Make the world a little better and apply for the EIC Pathfinder Challenges with your project idea! We will be happy to advise you on your project idea and also assist you during the application process.

Don't miss out on this unique opportunity. Make your vision of world-improving advanced technology a reality!


Author: Christina Tanosova

Stefan Durm

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Stefan Durm

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I have been successfully involved in international projects for about 10 years. I have designed and coordinated international research consortia as well as (co-)developed and successfully implemented more than 50 business plans for highly innovative deep-tech start-ups. To keep sharpening my knowledge, I am a founding member of the European Association of Innovation Consultants (EAIC) and represent EurA there.This makes me a very good first point of contact for questions about international funding projects.

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