EIC Pathfinder Open (previously FET-Open) supports early-stage science and technology research and innovation ideas towards radically new future technologies in all disciplines. That’s nice, right? But given the supposed “open” nature of this grant, many misinterpret this grant’s nature and what it actually calls for. Therefore, it stands with reason to ask – ‘just how open is this grant, really?’
An overview of EIC Pathfinder Open
EIC Pathfinder Open is a bottom-up scheme that applies to all research and innovation topics and disciplines. Hence it sounds like the ideal channel for funding. However, when looking into the requirements and evaluation criteria, as well as the evolution process, it becomes clear that winning this grant is not an easy task.
In other words – the perceived ‘openness’ that is associated with this grant is quite misleading. In addition, many may look at EIC Pathfinder Open as an almost immediate automatic alternative to all other themes and topics of Horizon Europe (whether they checked other options thoroughly or not). As a result, we can expect many proposals to be submitted with little or no match to the call requirements, not to mention the excellence criteria standards. As a result (as was previously with FET-Open) – the system will be overloaded and the overall success rate statistics will become distorted.
The outcome is well known. Similar to the oversubscription history of FET-Open – it is expected that the over-subscription in EIC Pathfinder Open will be high as well, and that the success rate will be very low.
So, how can one know whether or not to apply? Based on our experience with the former, and very similar, FET-Open funding scheme – we suggest the below key points to focus on.
Understanding if you are the right fit
Keep in mind that EIC Pathfinder is aiming to path-finding Europe’s technological future by presenting radically new, high-risk ideas and accelerate the development of the most promising emerging areas of science and technology. This grant has some commonalities with the prestigious ERC grant, and understanding the links between these grants is important. It can improve the competitiveness of your grant proposal.
Tips for doing it right
- A crucial starting point is the call text. Make sure that your project complies with the “gatekeepers”.
- Make sure that your consortium structure matches the requirements of EIC Pathfinder Open.
- Look at winning EIC Pathfinder Open/ FET-Open projects.
- Talk to colleagues that have applied to FET-Open
- Get support and guidance from experts.
Make no mistake – achieving an EIC Pathfinder Open project funding is hard work and highly competitive. However, proper preparation will help in improving your winning chances.