An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »


Pathfinder Innovation Projects

Pathfinder Innovation Projects challenge EPA scientists to answer the question, "Wouldn't it be amazing if we could ... ?" The internal competition provides staff time and seed funding in pursuit of high-risk, high-reward research ideas.

Our goal is to transform sustainability and environmental protection by integrating innovative ideas into the major EPA research programs.

Pathfinder scientists bring creativity to their research questions.

The Selection Process

  1. The program asks for high-risk, high-reward research ideas.
  2. Leading experts outside EPA help spot ideas with the most potential.
  3. EPA supplies seed funding and staff time to selected projects.
  4. Researchers provide a proof-of-concept.
  5. EPA programs incorporate promising projects into research portfolios.