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British Council

‘My slogan for FameLab is 'science for the people, with the people!’ The masterclasses have built me not only as a scientist but as an individual.’

Letago Kgomoeswana, FameLab South Africa winner 2021 and international runner-up

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Life cycle

2020-21

Country/Region

Global, UK

Client/Partner

British Council, Cheltenham Festivals

Vision

To connect international researchers in Higher Education, contestants and audiences through virtual platforms to support the UK’s role as a global leader in science and to promote cultural exchange through science.

Situation

The FameLab International programme supports a greater global effort in science engagement through a competition to promote some of the world’s most talented science communicators. This year also celebrated 15 years of partnership between Cheltenham Festivals and the British Council to deliver the competition.

With the challenge of a global pandemic still ongoing, FameLab needed to its increase online presence while still engaging its audience and driving attendance to the international finals in 2020 and 2021.

Implementation

The annual FameLab International Final is held at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK, gathering around 30 national finalists each year. However, due to the Covid-19 restrictions still in place, some participating countries and the International Final pivoted to online platforms for 2020 and 2021, with live tweeting and event streaming ensuring that audiences could still engage with the competition.  

The digital activities also included engaging individuals (contestants, judges, hosts and their followers) and partners (our country teams, in-country partners and funders along with institutions and organisations) through tailored content enhanced with a clear visual identity. A spin-off climate change themed online competition, FameLab Climate Change Communicators, was held in September 2021 to tie-in with COP26.

Impact 

Through these various digital activities including social media promotion and online press coverage, FameLab International continued to reach a large, global audience through a 100% organic campaign. 

  • The online events in 2020 and 2021 attracted over 30k views on YouTube in over 75 countries.
  • Virtual delivery decreased costs and environmental impact (due to travel) whilst enabling around 20 new countries to engage with the programme through FameLab Climate Change Communicators.
  • The #FameLabInternational2021 campaign hashtag reached an audience of 6.8 million.

In June 2021, Adrian Fenton (Senior Science Consultant at the British Council). was invited to speak live on air on CNN Philippines’ New Day programme. His segment about FameLab Climate Change Communicators reached an audience of three million. 

Mutual benefit

Through its 15-year partnership between the British Council and Cheltenham Festivals, FameLab International has helped to facilitate skill development and cultural sharing of public engagement in science. To date, more than 40,000 young scientists and researchers have participated in the programme. This has resulted in exciting new relationships and valuable networking, both vital enablers for research collaboration and mobility. Over 200 international partners were involved in FameLab in over 40 countries. FameLab is more than a competition, it is a mechanism for connecting scientists on a global level.

Pivoting the event to be delivered virtually ensured the continuity of the training, competition elements and continued collaboration between countries throughout the pandemic.