About | CogNovo

CogNovo is a multi-national doctoral training network that offers research training in Cognitive Innovation, both as a new field of scientific investigation and as a strategy for research and innovation.

In the competitive, dynamic world in which we live, technological and social innovation is key to future economic success. Nature provides clues which can help us build a strategy for innovation. Humans, like other animals, actively explore their world, they respond to novel situations and problems by creating and evaluating potential solutions, they remember new information about the world and ways to behave gained in this process, and exploit this knowledge in subsequent thoughts and actions. In this process of directed creativity, essential cognitive abilities develop and become applied in novel ways. This is not creativity or innovation in a vacuum. What is critically important for social and technological progress is innovation within appropriate constraints; Cognitive Innovation. CogNovo aims to establish a firm scientific basis for cognitive innovation and a research training programme in which new researchers learn to adopt the self-aware, multi-faceted process of cognitive innovation (exploration/speculation, explanation/synthesis and exploitation/implication), applicable both to their research activities and their professional and personal development.


Researchers of the future need to be able to think creatively and critically. They need to understand the implications of their research; the potential benefits and negative consequences. They need to anticipate changes and proactively seek out new solutions to problems. They need to know how to transform their ideas into utilisable products and effective social innovations. CogNovo provides a wide-ranging curriculum designed to nurture curiosity beyond conventional discipline boundaries to enable CogNovo Fellows to graduate as confident, productive and insightful innovators, with the intellectual breadth and transferable skills necessary to take up the challenges of the future.

CogNovo draws on the unique composition of its multi-disciplinary consortium to offer complementary expertise across a wide range of disciplines:

Cognitive neuroscience: will explore the brain basis for cognition and the relationship between cognition, novelty and creativity. CogNovo Fellows will to learn how to apply neuroimaging technologies to investigate the neural basis for creativity in imagery and deception, and how novelty detection helps to shape cognition. This work will help to establish a scientific basis for cognitive innovation.

Computational modelling: of neurobiology and behaviour helps to derive theoretical models from empirical data. CogNovo Fellows will develop bio-inspired models that provide testable explanations for creative cognitive processes. Computational modelling provides important links between cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology and a basis for developing novel intelligent cognitive technologies.

Humanities: A strong Humanities perspective will help to broaden the scientific ear of CogNovo Fellows, offering new ways of thinking about problems by taking a transdisciplinary approach not normally considered within the scientific community. A particular focus will be on the human values important for sustainable innovation in technological applications.

Experimental psychology: Social innovation is seen as an important way to address societal needs, yet the impact of behaviour-change initiatives remains rather poor. CogNovo Fellows will work with a team of experimental psychologists to develop innovative solutions to the problems of alarm design, and medical communications and decision making, thus providing new insights into the basis for sustainable social innovation.

Creative arts: The creative industries are seen as an area for high growth potential in Horizon 2020. CogNovo Fellows will explore the dynamics of social creativity within interacting groups of adults and children, through direct engagement with creative practices at the arts/science interface.

Cognitive robotics: The development of human-like cognition in artificial robotic systems remains an unsolved problem, yet is a fundamental requirement for effective human-robot interactions. Drawing on studies of creativity in human cognitive development, CogNovo Fellows will investigate relationships between curiosity and creativity and whether artificial creativity can similarly support the development of artificial cognition.

Private sector involvement:

CogNovo enjoys substantial support from the private sector. Private sector partners include prominent industrial research labs (Sony, Philips), a private education provider (LogicMills), a company specialising in entrepreneurship and commercialisation of Intellectual Property (Frontier IP), arts organisations (Kin, R-Research, i-DAT), major international media archives (EYE Film Institute, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision), and a leading journal for the application of contemporary science and technology to the arts (Leonardo).  

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