About the Constructive Advanced Thinking (CAT) Programme



The aim of the CAT initiative is to foster networks of excellent early-career researchers dedicated to devising 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.

In order to engage in fruitful discussions and mature their ideas, the groups are given the opportunity to meet for short stays in different participating institutes, and to be put in contact with the institutes’ fellows and local research communities.

With few guidelines and a very light application process, CAT is designed to maximize the creativity of research groups. This call has been incubated in the Network of European Institutes for Advanced Study (NETIAS) and also involves institutes beyond the network. The collaboration between several institutes in different countries aims at giving these groups access to a great variety of high-level thinkers and researchers in order to go beyond the current frontiers of knowledge and to develop highly innovative ideas on how to address very complex societal issues.


CAT provides teams of early-career researchers (three to five persons, possibly including an extra-academic stakeholder) 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, for a maximum of six stays) in institutes participating in the program (see list below). Online meetings and digital research stays at the institutes are possible alternatives to onsite stays and can complete the work and time plan of CAT groups.

CAT covers travel and accommodation expenses for the team meetings/short work stays in the participating institutes. CAT does not fund salaries or research related expenses.

The participating institutes support the teams by connecting them with the most knowledgeable and experienced researchers onsite as well as digitally, and by helping them valorise the obtained results through their legitimating channels. During their stay, CAT teams benefit from the institutes’ amenities and conviviality for work and exchanges. Discussions at the institutes provide a unique sounding board for innovative ideas and give valuable feedback.

Obligations for CAT groups

At mid-term, the continuation of the institute’s support to the team’s work is subject to approval after evaluation of a short progress report.

At the end of their project, in addition to the organization of (a) 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 media, that will be made public.

In keeping with the policies of the participating institutes, the researchers keep the intellectual property rights to their work.

Eligibility criteria

The project must address emergent societal issues.

  • The Principal Investigator (team leader) must have a stable research position in a European (EU as well as 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 should have obtained his/her PhD before January 2013. Doctoral researchers may also participate.
  • There is no specific diploma or age requirement for representatives of stakeholder organizations.
  • Each team should include participants from at least two different countries (current workplace, including non-European countries; any nationality).
  • The team of 3 to 5 persons (stakeholders included) must be fully constituted, with CVs of all members named in the proposal.


Application documents needs to be submitted in English as PDF files (the various parts of the application may be sent as one PDF). Applications must include the following materials:

  1. a 300-word abstract;
  2. a max. 3000-word project proposal (references not included in the count) OR a video of max. 15 minutes (in this case, the web link needs to be included in the abstract), describing the team’s research question and how it plans to address it. The team’s motivation as well as the societal issues addressed and the interdisciplinary aspects of the project should be specified;
  3. a work plan for the whole project duration, including meetings (tentative dates and possibly preferred hosting IAS) and activities with an indicative calendar;
  4. a short description of the team
  5. CVs for each participant and an indication of where they travel from/to the meetings; 
  6. letters of support: at least two from academic researchers; additional letters from extra-academic stakeholders outside academia are encouraged.

Incomplete applications are not considered.

The submission of proposals is possible via the online application platform.  (Presently the application platform is closed).

Selection and evaluation process

The proposals are examined by the participating institutes and peer-reviewed by experts. In the spirit of a bottom-up and open call, the way the teams understand the call and design their proposal is one assessment criterion. Other criteria include the academic quality and interdisciplinarity of the proposal and its societal relevance, the quality of the team, the organization and feasibility of the work plan and the innovativeness of the approach to the issue at stake.

The CAT selection committee distributes stays of teams to the various participating institutes. Teams may suggest specific participating institutes, providing the reasons, but the final decision will be taken by the selection committee. Selected projects are given a binding list of institutes that can host them. This list is non-negotiable.

The dates of planned meetings are subject to discussion among the institutes and the teams.

Non-selected projects do not receive feedback on the reasons for rejection.

CAT Programme 2023-2025

The Call for applications (round 2022) is closed. The list of successful applications for the period of 2023-2025 will be published soon.

Coordinator Institute

Israel Institute for Advanced Studies

Contact person

Ms. Keren Rechnitzer



Deadline for applications: 15 October 2022, 15:00 CET

Notification: December 2022

Stays in participating institutes will take place between January 2023 and December 2025.

Participating Institutes

Aarhus Institute for Advanced Studies, Aarhus

Institute for Advanced Study at CEU, Budapest

Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Jerusalem

Madrid Institute for Advanced Study, Madrid

Montpellier Advanced Knowledge Institute on Transitions, Montpellier

Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Amsterdam

Paris Institute for Advanced Study, Paris

Scienza Nuova, Torino

Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala

Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Berlin

Zukunftskolleg, Konstanz



The next call for applications (round 2023) is foreseen to open in September 2023 for projects 2024-2026.