DigNA: 2022 EIC Pathfinder Challenge portfolio

PEARL-DNA is part of DigNA - a portfolio of projects funded under the 2022 EIC Pathfinder challenge: DNA-based digital data storage.

About the EIC Pathfinder Challenge portfolio

Current digital data storage technologies face sustainability challenges due to high energy consumption and the use of rare and toxic materials. DNA-based storage offers a promising alternative with significantly higher information densities and millennia-long stability. While in vitro DNA archiving has proven successful, economic viability remains a challenge, especially for broader applications and data types. Despite technical hurdles, interest from large corporations and governments is growing, particularly in Europe, where there is potential for academic and commercial development.

The EIC Pathfinder Challenge seeks scalable and reliable approaches for using DNA as a data-storage medium. Solutions should enhance read, write, and/or edit operations, leveraging DNA’s density and stability. Alternative coding techniques and polymeric substrates are also considered, provided they offer similar benefits. Proposed techniques must improve throughput, DNA length, reliability, speed, and cost. Applications may extend beyond data storage, to data-processing, in vivo sensing, and/or fingerprinting.

Objectives of the Challenge

New approaches for coding, decoding, modification or computational use of digital data in synthetic DNA or other sequence-controllable polymers with quantitative targets (theoretical and technological)

Proof-of-Concept of technical feasibility with indications of at least state of the art benefits and major operational characteristics (e.g. extreme densities, longevity, stability) and going well beyond for some of them (e.g. speed, cost, accuracy)

End-to-end scenarios of use, be it for data storage (archival, but also shorter term storage) or other purposes (like sensing, cryptography or computation) that exploit the benefits of the technology

Projects within the Challenge portfolio

Nine projects have been selected by the EIC management to form a portfolio of the 2022 EIC Pathfinder Challenge: DNA-based digital data storage. Each project in the portfolio introduces groundbreaking technologies with high potential. These projects are led by visionary scientists, entrepreneurial researchers, and high-tech SMEs.

Interoperable end-to-end platform of scalable and sustainable high-throughput technologies for DNA-based digital data storage

Computational, Chemical and Biotechnology Solutions to Improved DNA Data Storage: from In-Product Information and Cryptography to Long-Term Archiving

MIcrobe-synthesised DNA NAnostructures for DIsplay-controlled Storage Cartridges


Proof of concept of affordable and scalable DNA data storage by developing a writing technology based on enzymatic DNA synthesis with a very dense semiconductor integrated circuit (CMOS chip)


Next Generation Molecular Data Storage

DNA Microfactory for Autonomous Archiving

A dynamic, ultra-stable, random-access RNA retrieval database

DNA-based Infrastructure for Storage and Computation


High-throughput oligonucleotide synthesis and NGS for Digital TEXT Storage And retrieval in DNA encapsulated nanofibers

Working groups

In order to structure and intensify collaborative efforts of the Pathfinder Challenge portfolio projects, four working groups targeted at different outcomes and interest groups were created. These working groups include Technical synergies, Outreach and Public Engagement, Metrics as a foundation for Standards and Roadmapping, and Protection and Exploitation.

As part of the portfolio, PEARL-DNA will participate in each of the working groups to ensure efficient collaboration and development of synergies with other projects within the portfolio. PEARL-DNA partners have been elected to chair two of the work groups and will actively participate in all portfolio-related activities.

Stay tuned for further updates on the portfolio activities.