Overview of EIC Pathfinder, EIC Transition, and EIC Accelerator: Differences and TRL Expectations

The European Innovation Council (EIC) under the Horizon Europe framework offers three distinct programmes to support the entire innovation lifecycle: EIC Pathfinder, EIC Transition, and EIC Accelerator. Each programme targets different stages of technology development, providing tailored funding and support to help breakthrough innovations reach the market. This overview explains the differences between these programmes, their specific requirements, and how they are connected through their Technology Readiness Level (TRL) expectations. The EIC Pathfinder, EIC Transition, and EIC Accelerator programmes are intricately designed to provide comprehensive support across the entire innovation lifecycle, enabling companies to benefit from continuous grant nurturing from TRL 1 to TRL 9. EIC Pathfinder supports early-stage, high-risk research to explore novel ideas and achieve proof of concept (TRL 1-4). Successful Pathfinder projects can then progress to EIC Transition, which helps validate and demonstrate the feasibility of these technologies in relevant environments (TRL 3-6), bridging the gap between research and market readiness. Finally, the EIC Accelerator offers targeted support for market-ready innovations (TRL 5-9), providing both grants and equity investment to help companies commercialize their products, scale their operations, and disrupt existing markets. This seamless progression ensures that innovative companies can continuously develop their technologies from initial concept to full market deployment, leveraging the EIC’s comprehensive funding and support mechanisms at each critical stage. EIC Pathfinder Purpose EIC Pathfinder supports visionary research and the exploration of bold ideas to create breakthrough technologies. It focuses on early-stage research to lay the groundwork for transformative innovations. Key Features Funding Scope: Supports high-risk, high-gain research projects that explore new technological possibilities. TRL Focus: Primarily targets TRL 1 to TRL 4. TRL 1: Basic principles observed. TRL 2: Technology concept formulated. TRL 3: Experimental proof of concept. TRL 4: Technology validated in lab. Requirements Eligibility: Open to consortia of at least three independent legal entities from different Member States or Associated Countries. Single entities like high-tech SMEs and research organizations can also apply. Proposal: Must outline a visionary, high-risk research project with a strong potential for scientific and technological breakthrough. Funding Grant Amount: Up to EUR 3 million for Pathfinder Open, up to EUR 4 million for Pathfinder Challenges. Funding Rate: 100% of eligible costs. EIC Transition Purpose EIC Transition aims to bridge the gap between early-stage research and market readiness. It focuses on maturing and validating technologies developed under EIC Pathfinder and other EU-funded projects. Key Features Funding Scope: Supports activities to validate and demonstrate the feasibility of new technologies in application-relevant environments. TRL Focus: Targets TRL 3 to TRL 6. Starting TRL: TRL 3 (Experimental proof of concept) or TRL 4 (Technology validated in lab). Ending TRL: TRL 5 (Technology validated in relevant environment) to TRL 6 (Technology demonstrated in relevant environment). Requirements Eligibility: Open to single entities (SMEs, spin-offs, startups, research organizations, universities) or consortia (2-5 entities) from Member States or Associated Countries. Proposal: Must build on results from previous EIC Pathfinder, FET (Future and Emerging Technologies), or other EU-funded projects. Proposals should include a detailed work plan for technology validation and business development. Funding Grant Amount: Up to EUR 2.5 million, with higher amounts possible if justified. Funding Rate: 100% of eligible costs. EIC Accelerator Purpose EIC Accelerator supports individual SMEs, including startups and spin-offs, to develop and scale up high-impact innovations with the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing ones. Key Features Funding Scope: Provides both grant funding and equity investment to help SMEs bring their innovations to market. TRL Focus: Targets TRL 5 to TRL 9. Starting TRL: TRL 5 (Technology validated in relevant environment) or TRL 6 (Technology demonstrated in relevant environment). Ending TRL: TRL 8 (System complete and qualified) to TRL 9 (Actual system proven in operational environment). Requirements Eligibility: Open to individual SMEs from Member States or Associated Countries. Mid-caps (companies with up to 500 employees) can also apply for blended finance (grant + equity). Proposal: Must present a high-potential innovation with a strong business case and clear market potential. Proposals should include a plan for commercialization and scaling. Funding Grant Amount: Up to EUR 2.5 million for grant-only support, with additional equity investment available up to EUR 15 million. Funding Rate: 70% of eligible costs for grant component, equity component determined based on investment needs. Connecting the Programmes through TRL Expectations From Early Research to Market Readiness The three EIC programmes are designed to support the full innovation lifecycle, from early-stage research to market entry: EIC Pathfinder (TRL 1-4): Focuses on basic research and experimental proof of concept, laying the scientific and technological foundation for future innovations. EIC Transition (TRL 3-6): Bridges the gap between exploratory research and market readiness by validating and demonstrating technologies in relevant environments. EIC Accelerator (TRL 5-9): Supports the development, commercialization, and scaling of market-ready innovations, helping SMEs bring their products to market. Seamless Progression EIC Pathfinder to EIC Transition: Projects that achieve successful proof of concept and lab validation under EIC Pathfinder can progress to EIC Transition for further validation and demonstration in relevant environments. EIC Transition to EIC Accelerator: Once technologies are validated and demonstrated in relevant environments, they can advance to EIC Accelerator for final development, market entry, and scaling. Summary EIC Pathfinder: Early-stage research (TRL 1-4), visionary and high-risk projects. EIC Transition: Bridging research and market (TRL 3-6), technology validation, and demonstration. EIC Accelerator: Market readiness and scaling (TRL 5-9), commercialization support for SMEs. By understanding the distinct roles and TRL expectations of each EIC programme, innovators can strategically plan their project development pathway, ensuring seamless progression from groundbreaking research to successful market introduction.

Bridging the Gap: The EIC Transition Grant Programme Explained

The European Innovation Council (EIC) Transition Programme is a critical component of the Horizon Europe framework, designed to bridge the gap between early-stage research and market-ready innovations. This programme specifically targets the advancement and maturation of promising technologies developed under EIC Pathfinder projects and other EU-funded research initiatives. By providing funding and support, EIC Transition helps to validate and demonstrate the viability of these technologies in real-world applications, facilitating their path to commercialization and societal impact. Objectives of the EIC Transition Programme The EIC Transition Programme aims to: Validate Technologies: Support projects in proving the feasibility and robustness of new technologies in application-relevant environments. Develop Business Plans: Assist in creating comprehensive business plans that outline the commercial potential and market strategy for the technology. Reduce Market Risks: Mitigate the technical and commercial risks associated with bringing new technologies to market. Foster Innovation: Encourage the development of innovative solutions that can address significant societal and economic challenges. Eligibility Criteria Who Can Apply? The EIC Transition Programme is open to: Single Entities: Such as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), spin-offs, startups, research organizations, and universities. Consortia: Comprising a minimum of two and a maximum of five independent legal entities from different Member States or Associated Countries. Specific Requirements Source of Results: Projects must build on results from EIC Pathfinder, FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) projects, or other EU-funded research initiatives. Stage of Development: Technologies should be at a TRL (Technology Readiness Level) between 3 and 4 at the start of the project, aiming to reach TRL 5 to 6 by the project’s end. Funding and Support Financial Support The EIC Transition Programme provides substantial financial support to successful projects: Grant Amount: Up to EUR 2.5 million per project, although higher amounts can be requested if justified. Funding Rate: 100% of eligible costs, covering expenses such as personnel, equipment, consumables, and subcontracting. Additional Support In addition to financial support, EIC Transition offers: Business Acceleration Services: Tailored services including coaching, mentoring, and networking opportunities with industry leaders, investors, and ecosystem partners. Access to Expertise: Guidance from EIC Programme Managers and access to a pool of external experts to support the technology maturation process. Application Process Proposal Submission Applicants must submit their proposals via the EU Funding and Tender Opportunities Portal. Proposals should provide detailed information on: Technology and Innovation: Description of the technology, its novelty, and the specific innovation it represents. Work Plan: Comprehensive plan outlining the project’s objectives, methodology, milestones, deliverables, and risk management strategies. Market Potential: Analysis of the market potential, including target markets, competitive landscape, and commercialization strategy. Consortium Capabilities: Evidence of the consortium’s ability to execute the project successfully, including expertise, resources, and prior experience. Evaluation Criteria Proposals are evaluated based on three main criteria: Excellence: Innovation: The novelty and groundbreaking nature of the technology. Scientific and Technological Merit: The soundness of the proposed methodology and technological approach. Impact: Market Potential: The potential for commercialization and market uptake. Societal and Economic Benefits: The anticipated benefits for society and the economy. Quality and Efficiency of Implementation: Work Plan: The clarity, coherence, and effectiveness of the work plan. Consortium Competence: The capabilities and expertise of the consortium members. Evaluation Process The evaluation process involves multiple stages: Remote Evaluation: Proposals are first evaluated remotely by independent experts based on the above criteria. Consensus Meetings: Evaluators discuss and agree on the scores and comments for each proposal. Interviews: Top-ranked proposals may be invited for an interview with an evaluation jury, including experts and potential investors. Key Benefits of EIC Transition Bridging the Valley of Death The EIC Transition Programme addresses the so-called “valley of death,” the critical phase where many promising technologies fail to reach commercialization due to lack of funding and support. By providing financial resources and expert guidance, EIC Transition helps projects overcome this hurdle and move closer to market readiness. Accelerating Innovation By focusing on both technological validation and business development, EIC Transition accelerates the innovation process. This dual approach ensures that projects are not only technically feasible but also commercially viable, increasing their chances of success in the market. Strengthening European Competitiveness EIC Transition plays a vital role in enhancing the competitiveness of European technologies and companies on the global stage. By supporting high-potential innovations, the programme contributes to the development of cutting-edge solutions that can address global challenges and drive economic growth. Success Stories Several projects funded under the EIC Transition Programme have made significant strides towards commercialization. Notable examples include: Project A: A groundbreaking technology for sustainable energy storage, which successfully validated its prototype and attracted significant investment for further development. Project B: An innovative medical device that improved patient outcomes and secured partnerships with leading healthcare providers for market entry. Project C: A novel material with superior properties for industrial applications, which demonstrated its feasibility and scalability, leading to commercial agreements with major industry players. Conclusion The EIC Transition Programme is a pivotal initiative designed to support the maturation and commercialization of breakthrough technologies. By providing substantial funding, expert guidance, and business support, the programme helps to bridge the gap between research and market, ensuring that high-potential innovations can make a tangible impact on society and the economy. Researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs are encouraged to leverage this opportunity to bring their technologies to market and contribute to the advancement of European innovation. Navigating the EIC Transition Evaluation Criteria: A Comprehensive Guide Introduction The European Innovation Council (EIC) Transition Programme is designed to help promising technologies transition from early-stage research to market-ready innovations. A critical aspect of the EIC Transition Programme is the evaluation process, which rigorously assesses proposals to ensure that only the most promising and impactful projects receive funding. Understanding the evaluation criteria is essential for applicants to align their proposals effectively and maximize their chances of success. This article provides a detailed overview of the EIC Transition evaluation criteria, offering insights into what evaluators look for in proposals and how applicants can best meet these expectations. Overview of the Evaluation Process The evaluation process … Read more

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