Le Grand Café runs a support structure called Substrat aimed at researchers and doctoral students in art history. The art centre is convinced of the need to build bridges between academia and the professional art world, and intends, through Substrat, to support innovative practices in research and to participate in knowledge production.

Over a two-year period, Le Grand Café offers practical support for a researcher to reflect and write, through residency and a travel grant as well as by programming an annual public presentation and conference.

Since 2019, this residency is organised through a biennial call for candidates.