Famelab: Communicating Science

Entries for Famelab 2016 are now open

Why not join our newsletter to keep up to date with the latest opportunities.

What's it all about?

Science. Technology. Engineering. Maths. Medicine. Fascinating subjects to learn, but not always the easiest of subjects to talk about. But that’s the idea behind FameLab – an annual competition that’s sponsored by the British Council and held as part of the Cheltenham Festivals (science, not horses) every year.

Entrants have three minutes to explain a science concept in a unique and entertaining way. It’s not about dumbing it down so a two-year-old could understand it; it’s about bringing it to life in a way that makes people want to love it. Since it started in 2005 the competition has taken off, and it’s now held in over 25 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. Fancy being the new voice of science? Then find out more.

What is FameLab?

FameLab is a training programme in a competition format to get people talking about science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine. A bit like X-Factor, really, but with a slightly more intelligent slant to it. There are four basic stages: regional heats, regional final, masterclass, and national final, with the eventual winners being invited to travel to the UK and participate in the Cheltenham Science Festival.

Applicants have three minutes to present a concept from their field of study to a panel of judges. Make it funny, make it dramatic, make it jaw-dropping, eye-opening, lightbulb-poppingly brilliant. It’s entirely up to how creative you’re feeling. The judges are looking for somebody who can shine in content, clarity and charisma (in other words it has to be scientifically accurate, clear to understand and presented with a wink and a smile).

Read more about FameLab 2016

What can I win?

Although FameLab is possibly more about the prestige than it is the prize, there are still prizes depending on the country you compete in. The UK winner receives £1000 cash prize and £750 to spend on a science communication activity. All participants that make it to a national final will receive an expenses-paid private masterclass before the finals.

Where is it held?

In the UK, the regional heats and finals are held at a number of cities around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the grand final taking place in London. You can find a full list of locations.

Entry to the Northern Ireland regional heat is via video entrance only. More information can be found here.

If you’re looking for information on FameLab in your country, please visit your local British Council website.

What are the rules?

The first rule of FameLab is that you only have three minutes. Other rules that you might need to know about are:

  • it must be about a science, engineering or maths-based topic
  • you may not use PowerPoint
  • props are limited to what you can carry on stage (there is no time for set up)
  • video entries must not use special effects
  • if you make it through the heats to the local final you will need a second presentation (which can be on the same topic, but must be demonstrably different in content).

Can I enter?

The main requirements for entering FameLab are that you’re over 21 and working/ studying in science, technology, engineering, medicine or maths. If you’re unsure you can find a more detailed eligibility list for the UK competition.

When’s the deadline?

UK regional heats are taking place between now and February 2016, so it just depends on where you’re based. Note that you don’t have to enter in your home town or city if you don’t want to –see the full list here. Good luck.

What they say

“On the surface FameLab looks like it is just a bit of fun but there is a very, very serious underlying purpose here – you just have to look around us to see how science is playing a really fundamental role in understanding our world and where it is going, so we need a new generation of people to explain science if the democratic process is going to work effectively.”

– Roger Highfield, Director of External affairs for the Science Museum Group

"It’s been a fantastic experience for me, and I know that all other FameLabbers really enjoyed it as well. Most of us described it as one of the best experience we’ve lived. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it really is true. It was a short but intense experience, and it definitely made me want to do more science communication, to keep improving the skills, and follow the paths of Matt Parker and Eduardo Saenz, for instance."

Francois-Xavier Joly - Winner 2015 FameLab France, Runner-up and Audience Vote 2015 FameLab International