The innovative research TUM-IAS Fellows engage in does not usually happen in a vacuous environment. Fellows and their Hosts are part of research units at TUM. They either provide leadership to institutes, research units or laboratories or are prominent guests at those. TUM-IAS deems such an institutional embedding necessary and gives it the status of a Focus Group. Focus Groups form the local, topical and organizational units of the Institute. They provide the social environment where Fellows, Hosts, their doctoral candidates, and collaborators meet to share the development of their topic, organize activities, and cater for mutual support. Ideally, these teams are also diverse in terms of disciplines and gender.
TUM-IAS is Fellow-driven, not thematically driven. However, big themes emerge dynamically and are further developed over time. The Research Areas embedded into TUM-IAS therefore cover a wide range of innovative, interdisciplinary fields. While the Fellowships can only last for a limited period of time, it is their purpose to establish sustainable, long-term research collaborations that are embedded in the seven TUM Schools.
- External Fellows are associated with Hosts. These are professors at TUM who have been successful in proposing and obtaining a Fellow, have agreed to host her/him and are jointly developing the proposed research. TUM-IAS honors not only the Fellow, but the proposer as well and recognizes her/his contribution by inviting her/him to be a member of the Institute. New Fellows and Hosts can join an existing Focus Group or create a new one, depending on topic and necessity. TUM-IAS appreciates intense interaction between Fellows, Hosts and their further collaborators and doctoral candidates, but leaves the choice of the precise set up to them.
- Focus Groups are headed by either a Carl von Linde Senior Fellow or one of the Host Professors. They are created by mutual agreement between the participating Fellows, their Hosts and the TUM-IAS.
- Focus Groups have a coordinator who documents the activities of the group and keeps the TUM-IAS office informed about the groups' activities (workshops, special lectures, events, or other programs).
- Focus Groups can apply for funding of exploratory workshops, and for any kind of additional Fellowship furthering their goals (Fellow nominations have to meet the requirements of the individual Fellowship categories, but natural embedding of new Fellows and their Hosts in established Focus Groups is seen positively).
- Focus Groups are expected to document their field and their goals and to present their Fellows on the webpage of the Institute.
- Focus Groups exist as long as active long-term Fellows are participating in them (formally up to a maximum of one year after the tenures of the last Fellows have terminated). TUM-IAS encourages its Focus Groups to assure their sustainability by actively pursuing new Fellowship proposals.