Fitting your project to the EIC Transition Challenge: ‘Full scale Micro-Nano-Bio devices...’

In this article our EIC Transition experts present the 2023 EIC Transition Challenge ‘Full scale Micro-Nano-Bio devices for medical and medical-research applications’, along with frequently asked questions by our clients considering an application to the Challenge call. The final deadline for the 2023 EIC Transition Challenges is 27 September 2023.

Challenge call summary

This EIC Transition Challenge is aimed at the maturation of Micro-Nano-Bio technologies developed under previous EU-projects. These technologies include a wide range of innovations, such as micro-fluidic devices (e.g. organ-on-a-chip, nanopores), sensing devices (e.g. MEMS, photonics and imaging), biomaterials, and more.

The EIC is looking for projects that integrate and/or refine different modules towards an ‘investment-ready’ product. This includes working on tasks such as high-throughput, scalability, miniaturization, or automation. Sufficient data should be gathered during the execution of the project, to demonstrate that key aspects including cost, technical features, workflow, and performance in a relevant environment of the proposed solution are in line with the requirements of potential users and future purchasers.

Question: The EIC Transition Challenge call text seems unclear, what exactly is the EIC looking for?

It is important to highlight that the EIC deliberately chose to keep this Challenge very broad. This is why they use the term ‘micro-nano-bio devices/systems’. To understand what the EIC is looking for we need to dive into why this Challenge was put together. The European Commission has been funding technologies such as lab-on-a-chip, microfluidics, omics, etc., for many years now. The end-point of these projects is usually benchtop systems that are not ready to enter the market, so the potential impact is lost. These systems could be bulky, semi-automated, and composed of different modules, which makes them challenging to commercialize. This is why the EIC  wants to fund projects that further advance these technologies and refine them towards market-readiness.

From the Challenge call text we can also interpret that the EIC is targeting a broad user pool. It is totally fine to just target the research market, with scientists as end-users. Other targeted areas are the clinic (clinical labs), the point-of-care market, as well as even the pharmaceutical market, e.g. therapy discovery.

An important message is to not go too much into just the ‘nano’ part, e.g. do not put the focus on drug development. The EIC wants to extract a different value from this Challenge, which is of those more complex systems/devices whose value has not been realized yet.

Question: Fitting with this Challenge seems difficult. Why not go for the Transition Open instead?

One of the major lessons that we have learned at Catalyze is the importance of not being discouraged to apply and instead try to go the extra mile to align with the call requirements. The EIC Transition publishes new challenges every year. These tend to be very specific, and include a series of ‘Expected Outcomes and Impacts’ that the proposed projects need to address. The problem with these outcomes being so precise and particular is that applicants may be discouraged to apply, or look instead to the Open call. However, as long as there is initially some overlap, it is usually possible to further align the project to the Challenge call text. Importantly, the increased win-rate for projects submitted to the Transition Challenge calls versus the Open call (~2 times higher in recent rounds) makes them very attractive.

We have a perfect example of why it pays off to spend extra effort to align the project with the Challenge call text from the 2022 EIC Transition round. One of our clients was not so sure about their capacity to meet the outcomes of a given Challenge. After brainstorming we decided to go for it. It turns out that only 3 proposals in total were submitted to this Challenge, possibly because of applicants being discouraged from applying for the reason mentioned above. Together with our client we achieved an impressive score and who was invited to the interview round, where the pressure for our client was lower as the competition was not as high. They were awarded their project. Therefore, the take home message is to not be discouraged about a very stringent call text, and instead brainstorm with us about how to make the best out of it.

Question: What are some key elements of a good Transition Proposal?

Technology positioning is a very important element in a Transition proposal. Independent of the type of innovation that you aim to develop, in our experience it is important to present it in the proposal as a Platform Technology with broad applicability potential. Most winning projects are presented in such a broad manner, rather than narrowing down to a very specific application. This makes sense, as the EIC ensures that there is a higher chance to generate impacts. Another key element is the business component. One of the major reasons why evaluators penalize EIC Transition proposals is the lack of understanding of the market landscape, business model, and route to market.

In the EIC Transition program, business objectives are equally important to the technological objectives. We expect our EIC Transition clients to know their science very well. However, incorporation of the business aspect can sometimes be a challenge for applicants from academia. In the EIC Transition it is all about demonstrating a strategic and well-considered plan. We need to identify the actors that will take the lead in the exploitation of the project’s results, key stakeholders, targeted groups, timelines to market, etc. You can find more information and tips on the EIC Transition program in our EIC Transition Guide.

To conclude, at Catalyze we have extensive experience with the set of technologies proposed in this Challenge, so we are happy to discuss with you the most optimal way to design your project and align it to the Call.



Want to learn more about EIC Transition?

EIC Transition 2023 guide

Our EIC Transition experts have written a comprehensive guide covering all key aspects of the program, application & evaluation process, past winning projects, and more!

Download the EIC Transition 2023 guide here 

EIC Transition: case studies

Amsterdam UMC spin-off PacingCure develops platform gene transfer technologies for the heart. In the first cut-off of 2022 their project, TRACTION, was awarded the prestigious Transition grant from the European Innovation Council (EIC).

Read about the TRACTION project here

In the September 2022 round of the EIC Transition three of our clients’ projects were awarded. Oxcia (Sweden), the University of Pavia (Italy), and Vector Biosciences Cambridge (UK), were all awarded their projects under the EIC Transition Open and Challenges Calls.

Learn more about the winning projects here




EIC Transition further reading:




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