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Universities will be one of the beneficiaries of the European Innovation Council (EIC) 2024 work programme, adopted on 12 December.

The EIC is part of Horizon Europe and provides funding opportunities for universities through:

  • EIC Pathfinder scheme offering grants to multi-disciplinary research teams to undertake visionary research with the potential to lead to technology breakthroughs.
  • EIC Transition scheme to turn research results into innovation opportunities, following up on results generated by EIC Pathfinder projects, European Research Council Proof of Concept projects and open for the first time to project results from Horizon Europe collaborative projects from Pillar 2.

In both cases, the majority of funding will be awarded through open calls with no predefined thematic priorities. Known as Open Funding, it is designed to enable support for any technologies and for innovations that cuts across different scientific, technological, sectoral or application fields or represent new combinations. The second type of funding – challenge-driven calls – will support specific technological and innovation breakthroughs.

The 2024 work programme introduces several novelties, including the introduction of lump sum funding in most EIC calls which is meant to remove financial reporting requirements for beneficiaries, and the update of specific rules on Intellectual Property to empower Technology Transfer Offices in exploiting the results of EIC projects.

The table below summarises the indicative budget allocations and call deadlines.


Who can apply

What for

Open calls

Challenge-driven calls

Call deadline Indicative budget (€ million) Call deadline Indicative budget (€ million)
EIC Pathfinder Open call: only consortia can apply.Challenges call: smaller consortia (at least two eligible entities) or/and single applicants as well as larger consortia. The legal entities may e.g. be universities, research organisations, SMEs, startups, industrial partners. Open Call: Grants up to EUR 3 million Challenge Call: Grants up to EUR 4 million. Higher amounts if duly justified. Projects to achieve the proof of principle and validate the scientific basis of breakthrough technologies (starting from early TRLs aiming at achieving TRL3 or 4). 7 March 2024 136 16 October 2024 120
EIC Transition Single applicants (universities, research organisations, SMEs, spin-offs, start-ups) or small consortia (minimum 2, maximum 5 eligible entities). Proposals must build on results from eligible EIC Pathfinder, ERC Proof of Concept or Pillar 2 collaborative projects. Grants of up to EUR 2.5 million to validate and demonstrate technology in application-relevant environment (starting at TRL 3/ 4 aiming at achieving TRL 5/ 6) and develop business and market readiness. 18 September 2024 94 - -

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