European Innovation Council 2021 work programme and first calls for universities

22 March 2021

The 2021 work programme of the European Innovation Council (EIC), a part of the Horizon Europe programme was adopted on 17 March. Universities as one of the main beneficiaries can receive grants from the EIC Pathfinder scheme for science-towards-technology breakthrough research and from the EIC Transition scheme for the validation of a novel technology and the development a business case to bring it to market.

The majority of funding will be awarded through open calls with no predefined thematic priorities (‘Open Funding’). The Open Funding is designed to enable support for any technologies and innovations that cut across different scientific, technological, sectoral and application fields or represent novel combinations.

The second type of funding - challenge driven calls - provides funding to address specific technological and innovation breakthroughs. In 2021, the EIC Pathfinder will support the following challenges: awareness inside; tools to measure & stimulate activity in brain tissue; emerging technologies in cell & gene therapy; novel routes to green hydrogen production; and engineered living materials. The EIC Transition will provide funding for projects targeting medical devices and energy harvesting & storage technologies.

The first calls will open in April and will be available on this website. The indicative budget and call deadlines are summarised in the below table.


Who can apply

What for

Open calls

Challenge-driven calls

Call deadline Indicative budget (EUR million) Call deadline Indicative budget (EUR million)
EIC Pathfinder Consortia of at least three different independent legal entities (e.g. research organisations, universities, SMEs, industry) established in at least three different eligible countries. Single applicants or small consortia (two partners) may be able to apply for Pathfinder Challenges according to the call specifications Grants of up to EUR 3 million (open) or 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) 19 May 2021 168.00 27 October 2021 132.00
EIC Transition Single applicants (SMEs, spin-offs, start-ups, research organisations, universities) or small consortia (two to five partners). Applications must build on results from eligible Pathfinder, FET or ERC Proof of Concept projects Grants of up to EUR 2.5 million (or more if properly justified) to validate and demonstrate technology in application relevant environment (TRL 4 to 5/6) and develop market readiness 22 September 2021 59.60 22 September 2021 40.50
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