Exploratory Round Table Conferences (ERTC)

Exploratory Round Table Conferences (ERTC)

A hub for exploring the potential of emerging research areas

ERTCs are an annual joint activity of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Max Planck Society (MPG) held on the premises of the Shanghai Institute of Advanced Sciences (SIAS). This institute was founded in 2001 with the support of the Max Planck Society as a hub for interdisciplinary and international dialogue.


ERTCs are meant to provide a platform for leading scientists from Germany, China and international key players to exchange ideas and reflect on opportunities of emerging research topics at an early stage. The main objective of the initiative of the presidents of CAS and MPG is to act as a seed towards establishing pioneering topical areas in the organizations of CAS and MPG, as part of a priority-setting process at the leading edge of science. Moreover, the reports of the ERTC will be communicated to both science policy makers as well as to the general scientific community.

ERTCs should go beyond conferences in the usual sense. In addition to scientific talks, discussions and working sessions on the future directions of the field are vital parts of the meeting. They are intensively prepared by a Steering Committee and Fellows representing each of the topics concerned. The total attendance is limited to 50 participants (on invitation only).

Since 2010, “Exploratory Round Table Conferences” have taken place on the topics of

  • Synthetic Biology (2010)
  • Quantum Information Science (2011)
  • Space Based Research (2012)
  • Electrochemistry – revisited (2013)
  • Personalized Medicine (2014) 
  • Big Data in the Natural Sciences and Humanities (2015)
  • Strategic Cooperation of MPG and CAS (2016)
  • Mechanisms of Animal Behavior (2017)
  • Science in Big Facilities (2018)
  • Ecological Environment (2019)

From 2019 onwards, the conferences will be held every two years. The next ERTC on the topic of "Organoids, bio-printing and artificial tissues", which was scheduled to take place in 2021, had to be postponed due to the Corona pandemic and will be held in November 2022.

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