EIC Pathfinder and EIC Accelerator programmes: A perfect synergy
Pathfinder and Accelerator are two funding schemes proposed by the Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC). The EIC Pathfinder Pilot comprises FET-Open and FET-Proactive and offers grants of up to €4 million to promote collaborative, inter-disciplinary research and innovation on science-inspired and radically new future technologies. The EIC Accelerator (SME Instrument) supports top class innovators, entrepreneurs and small companies with funding opportunities and acceleration services. The main focus of the EIC Accelerator is on market-creating innovations that shape new markets and generate jobs, growth and higher standards of living.
How does it works practically? We talked to team of researchers working on projects in both schemes, Pathfinder and Accelerator. We asked the project coordinators and executive officers what their personal experience is.
Daniel Simo (chief executive officer, SIMUNE)
SIMUNE was launched in 2014 as a spin-off from the CIC Nanogune (Nanoscience cooperative research center), and part of its shareholders are the original and current developers of the SIESTA code (Spanish Initiative for Electronic Simulations with Thousands of Atoms) a well-known DFT (density functional theory based) computer simulation code. Simune´s mission is to offer atomistic simulation consultancy services while contributing to the process of knowledge transfer to industry from different research areas related. We are a company expert in computational simulations of materials and the development of scientific software tools related.
Currently, our main activities are: i) Carrying out advanced atomic-scale simulation solutions for industrial clients, research and academic customers, developing new materials in a variety of applications such as electronics, energy storage, bio-sciences, polymers, etc., ii) Developing the software ASAP (Atomistic Simulation Advanced Platform), and iii) Offering professional support for the SIESTA code (and other new scientific codes). Some of the listed Simune activities can benefit of both funding Accelerator and Pathfinder schemes, this is why we are participated in both programmes.
Thanks to SME Instrument-Phase 1, we have conducted a feasibility assessment by having independent channels of information gathering and analysis. The results and data gathered in this study sets the basis for the elaboration of a Business Innovation Plan. On the other hand, ASAP current focus is material science in general. However, we continue developing our framework to cover specific areas of scientific research using computer simulation. Our aim is to extend ASAP capabilities to solve industrial problems relevant to target markets such as Chemical, Electronics and Bioscience. This will have a direct impact in how advanced material industry performs in new material developments, which impacts the global economy, and at the same time will lead SIMUNE to become the worldwide reference.
The experience gained thanks to our participation in FET/Pathfinder scheme will make possible the specialization of the software in ASAP. In particular, thanks to the involvement in the FET-Proactive project TOCHA (Dissipationless topological channels for information transfer and quantum metrology), SIMUNE is gaining knowledge in a high interesting research field such as topological materials. The overall goal of the project TOCHA is to develop the next generation of topological devices and architectures across which information can flow without losses. identify dissipationless topological channels for information transfer and quantum metrology. Within this project, SIMUNE is involved in the work package devoted to model the stability of the magnetism in Topological Insulators (TIs) and Transition Metal Di-Chalcogenides (TMDCs), as well as the effects of the doping and defects in the material.
Albert Tarancón (coordinator, HARVESTORE)
In Fastprk-2, the company developed a new and improved version of one of its core products (smart parking sensor) with an immediate impact on the market. The project was successfully completed with an ambitious testing campaign of the resulting technology at different venues all around Europe. During Fastprk-2 implementation, the adoption of harvesting technologies in Industrial and Mobility IoT was preliminarily explored, and it was concluded that further R&D work was needed before a competitive product could be put on the market due to issues with the technical performance, costs and size of the existing commercial alternatives. This was the starting point and focus of our participation in HARVESTORE.
Aware that the challenge ahead is huge, Worldsensing has seen its participation as a long-term activity to monitor how the researchers around Europe respond to the specific requirements identified in Fastprk-2 and other National projects, as REFER. It goes without saying that the project is an excellent test bed to validate new technologies which are still not ready for the immediate market adoption.
Alternative Energy Innovations SL, as consortium member of Harvestore has been beneficiary of several EU grants, from the Spanish Government (CDTI - NEOTEC) and three from the EU (Fiware, H2020 SME Instrument Phase I, and Life Programme).
These four EU grants have allowed to us to validate the fundamentals of Alternative Energy Innovations SL that is mainly the heat conversion into clean electricity and developing of high-end edge computing IoT devices from TRL1 to TRL7. Nevertheless, these highly competitive grants forced us to search for private co-funding in order to complement them. These grants programs described previously are focused to help SMEs to achieve quickly the market due to the lack of private investment to support disruptive technologies.
Our role in this HARVESTORE H2020 FET Proactive project is to integrate all the technologies developed in the consortium (also our IoT device) to achieve a final solution able to be installed in industries. The working methodology has been completely different due to in this case we work in a consortium that needs members' coordination in several areas. Our both experiences (working alone with grants focused in SMEs with TRL6-9 and working in consortium with grants focused in TRL1-5) has been an extraordinary and complementary experience.
FET-Open and FET Proactive are now part of the Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) (specifically the Pathfinder), the new home for deep-tech research and innovation in Horizon 2020, the EU funding programme for research and innovation.
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