Established in March 1999, ICAM became, in April 2002, a Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University of California, with nine founding branches. In July, 2004, it received an award by NSF to establish the International Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter (I2CAM) as an integral part of ICAM to continue and expand ICAM’s international scientific and educational activities. Since then ICAM-I2CAM has grown rapidly to its present constellation of 72 branches: 35 in the US, 17 in Europe, 14 in Asia, 1 in Canada, 1 in Australia, 2 in the Middle East, 2 in South America; and 4 partner institutions. Altogether, ICAM links 112 leading centers of complex materials research worldwide.

ICAM’s integrated scientific and educational program includes exploratory workshops, symposia, fellowships, and research and educational networks. It has a well-developed communication, governance and advisory structure. Moreover, at each branch there is in turn an interdisciplinary grouping at the local level – from materials science, physics, chemistry, and biology, from theory and experiment. ICAM received early support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the University of California Office of the President, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. Its current activities are supported by the National Science Foundation and cost sharing contributions from its branch members.