Constructive Advanced Thinking (CAT)

Incubated in the Network of European Institutes for Advanced Study (NETIASin 2019 and supported by 12 Institutes for Advanced Study, the CAT initiative aims to foster networks of excellent early-career researchers dedicated to devise new ideas to understand and to tackle current or emerging societal challenges. Although the programme has a strong focus on the societal relevance of the projects, it is entirely blue-sky, bottom-up and non-thematic. CAT encourages a collaboration with stakeholders outside academia (industry, policymakers, NGOs…) who are willing to support or engage in innovative research initiatives.

With few guidelines and a very light application process, CAT is designed to maximize the creativity of groups. The collaboration between different institutes in different countries aims at giving these groups access to a great variety of high-level thinkers and researchers to go beyond the current frontiers of knowledge and to develop highly innovative ideas on how to deal with very complex societal issues.

CAT projects should address an emerging societal issue, with the aim to chart pathways for action. Stakeholder organizations (policymakers, industries, NGOs…) interested in addressing the issue with fundamental research are welcome to participate in a CAT project and can be represented in the team.

Following the policy of the participating institutes, the researchers retain the intellectual property rights to their work.

How does it work?

CAT provides teams of early career researchers (three to five persons, possibly including a stakeholder) in any discipline time and space for thought and discussion in the best research environments Europe has to offer. During a period of up to three years, teams benefit from a series of short stays (i.e. between one and two weeks, two to three times a year) in participating institutes (see links below). Besides providing access to their infrastructure and intellectual environments, participating institutes support the teams by connecting them with the most knowledgeable and experienced local researchers and local research communities. This support enables selected groups to engage in conversations about their research ideas and projects and mature them. 

CAT does not fund salaries. CAT covers travel and accommodation expenses for the team meetings/short work stays in the participating institutes, and, in some cases, a small amount of other research-related expenses.

CAT teams benefit from the institutes’ amenities and conviviality for work and exchanges during their stays. Discussions at the institutes provide a unique sounding board for innovative ideas and will give valuable feed-back.

 At the end of their project, in addition to the organization of one or more final meeting(s) presenting the results, the CAT teams are expected to produce a final report in the form of a text, video, website or other, that will be made public.


Projects must address emergent societal issues. 

The Principal Investigator (team leader) must have a stable research position in a European (EU including UK and associated countries) higher education and/or research institution for the entire duration of the project. S/he must have obtained a PhD between January 2013 and December 2021.

No team member can have obtained her/his PhD before January 2013. PhD students are eligible.

There is no specific requirement for representatives of stakeholder organizations.

Each team should include participants from at least two different countries (current workplace, including non-European countries; nationality irrelevant).

The team of 3 to 5 persons (stakeholders included) must be fully constituted, with CVs of all members named in the proposal attached.

Each team must provide support letters from internationally renowned researchers (who are not part of the team). Each team can also provide one or more letter(s) of support from stakeholder organizations (policymakers, industry, NGOs…).

Participating Institutes

CEU Institute for Advanced Study, Budapest

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies

Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Jerusalem

Montpellier Advanced Knowledge Institute on Transitions, Montpellier

Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Amsterdam

Madrid Institute for Advanced Study 

Paris Institute for Advanced Study, Paris

Scienza Nuova, Torino

Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala

Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung, Bielefeld 

Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

Zukunftskolleg, Konstanz