The goal of the European Innovation Council (EIC), enshrined in the Horizon Europe 2021–2027 programme, is to position Europe firmly at the forefront of the next wave of breakthrough innovation. This sets out the need for the introduction of proactive management of EIC funding and programme managers (PMs). Drawing on our collective experience of the ARPA model and of innovation policies around the world, we have focused our work on the EIC Pathfinder which supports advanced research on new and emerging technologies and the critical role of PMs. The EIC Accelerator is not considered in this report. To achieve its goal, we believe that the EIC should become a hands-on innovation agency. In our view, to create the EIC way in the European landscape for supporting breakthrough innovation, the main components are centred on the creation of challenge- and thematic-driven programmes, active portfolio management of funded projects, transition activities that bring new solutions to the market and EIC PMs who bind all of this together into complementary practices.