Tim Gordon, winner of FameLab International 2019
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British Council

FameLab has been a great chance to meet inspiring people who are doing and communicating wonderful research around the world. Learning from each other, encouraging each other and building networks that will last into the future has been a brilliant experience.

Tim Gordon, UK, FameLab International Winner 2019

Life cycle

2007-20

Country/Region

Cross-regional

Client/Partner

British Council funded

Vision

FameLab International aims to facilitate the cultural, scientific and technological co-operation between the UK and other countries and support a global effort in science engagement.

Situation

There is a need to bridge the gap between science and society and to help the general public understand the relevance of science advancement. FameLab International aims to support a greater global effort in science engagement through a global competition and promotion of the world’s most talented science communicators. We work with our partner, Cheltenham Festivals, numerous in-country partners, and our extensive networks in higher education to run a competition that convenes international participation to promote STEM learning and help bridge the gap between science and society. 

Implementation

FameLab International is implemented around the world through its Masterclass training, international competition and the FameLab alumni network. The international science competition, which we co-produce, convenes up-and-coming scientists to promote inspiring science communication. Participants have three minutes to win over a set of judges and audience with a scientific talk that excels for its content, clarity and charisma. Regional heats and finals are conducted around the world, from which the regional winners receive two days of Masterclass training in science communication delivered by UK consultants. The annual FameLab International Final is held at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK, gathering around 30 national finalists each year.

Impact 

FameLab International is now implemented in over 30 countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa and every year gives hundreds of scientists the chance to get involved in science communication. It is more than a competition - it is a programme that facilitates skill development and the cultural sharing of public engagement in science. To date, more than 10,000 young scientists and researchers have participated in FameLab International. The result is exciting new relationships and valuable networking - vital enablers for research collaboration and mobility. Over 200 international partners were involved in FameLab 2018. 

The programme reaches an increasingly large audience - there were over 10,000 views of the live-streamed final in 2018 and over 54 million views of FameLab worldwide media in 2018. Continual project evaluation is improving programme reach year on year. Our in-country teams are used to review regional FameLab activities, for example. Evaluation has led to new procurement of Masterclass trainers, improved M&E processes, and preparation for a new British Council/Cheltenham Festival agreement.

Mutual benefit

Our work in higher education and science means we are well-placed to provide skill development and access to UK expertise in science communication, allowing international researchers to engage with the public more effectively. We utilise leading UK consultants to run Masterclass training, demonstrating an integrated approach to public engagement.

Running the regional competitions in-country creates connections for the UK and a variety of international organisations. CERN is one of our partners in Switzerland, whilst one of our partners in Italy is Psiquadro, a social enterprise in the field of science and research communication. Competition finals taking place in the UK also enhances its reputation for science. Through bringing together country representatives for the international finals, we are seen as an enabler for international collaboration and the sharing of best practice.