What is an Integrative Think Tank?

Integrative Think Tanks (ITTs) are a focal point in our CDT's calendar and central to our goals and training programme.

These 'big events' are week-long research formulation workshops that take place twice a year in January and June, bringing together students, academics and external partners to work collaboratively.  

Challenges are presented by partner organisations and AAPS students, with support from academic attendees from the University, are expected to formulate research solutions, defining the routes to solving the problems, rather than solving them outright.

ITTs provide a vibrant working environment, leading to a high volume of quality research with impact.

The ITT is partly an exercise in 'research distillation' in which the students will learn how to formulate research problems, however it is also an opportunity to brainstorm new ideas with the potential outputs extending to new projects, collaborations, proposals and papers.

Next ITT

5th - 9th June 2023

Find out more, and register by emailing aapscdt@bath.ac.uk


ITTs are facilitated, week-long, off-campus workshops involving around 80 participants.

These participants include postgraduate students, academics and researchers from across the University of Bath and industrial representatives. Our expectation is that all participants of the ITT commit to attend for the full week and that they are fully engaged on each day. 

Attendees include both those who worked with the management team in developing the challenges from the partners, and those who have an interest in the subject areas associated with the challenges. 

Participants are presented with high level business challenges from partner organisations and academic partners. They work in small groups to formulate the challenges into well-defined research problems.

The format of the ITT is to start by introducing the topic with a series of short talks introducing broad questions on the theme. Participants then work together in small groups of mixed expertise to develop the questions into well-defined research problems and outline potential methods for investigating them. Focussed technical talks will provide deeper insight into specific areas of the topic.

ITTs look for potential methods for investigating the challenges, rather than solving them outright. 

Follow up from ITTs can take many forms and each will be tailored to the individual partner and ideas that are generated. Many ideas become long-term projects (as PhD studentships or research grants), some are picked up as short-term projects. 

In practice

ITTs take place twice a year, in January and June. Each ITT welcomes one or two partners that are identified at least four months before the event to enable preparatory work to take place.

The ITT build-up takes place through a student-led symposia series, where partners give AAPS CDT students and other ITT participants a preliminary overview of the challenges that they would like to bring to the ITT.

In collaboration with academic staff, students identify the background information that is required to prepare for the ITT. This could include expert lectures, training in software, or mini-courses. The programme is organised by the students themselves with academic support and oversight.


Impact and outcomes

As well as training students, ITTs also generate ideas that can be jointly pursued between academics and industrial partners, and lead to direct impact in terms of applications and research. Taking forward ITT outputs is a collaborative process and each one is different, the routes to developing potential projects and outputs may not be immediately apparent. This means that each ITT continues to deliver long after the event has taken place. 

There have been a number of successful collaborations that have come out of previous ITTs such as:

  • New PhD projects with industrial co-funding
  • Joint academic-partner research proposals to the funding councils
  • Short-term research projects, scoping projects and consultancy


Previous ITT Partners

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