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Directors Forum 2015: Industrial Heritage and Corporate Social Responsibility

18 November 2015 - 20 November 2015
Techmania Science Center, host of the 2015 Ecsite Directors Forum

Could the Corporate Social Responsibility trend represent an opportunity for science engagement organisations in times of dwindling public funding? This is what keynote speakers and Senior managers of Full Ecsite member organisations discussed at the Techmania Science Center in Pilsen (Czech Republic). Pilsen, home town of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery and car manufacturer Skoda, provided a meaningful backdrop to discuss the 2015 edition’s theme. A warm thank you to Techmania for hosting such a well-organised and convivial event.

Discover the programme, browse through the pictures and read the event's summary below. 

Four insightful keynotes

Klára Šplíchalová, Executive Director of the Czech Donors Forum painted the picture of a CSR landscape where companies align their giving strategies with their business needs, also addressing a growing consumer demand for ethics. She urged cultural organisations to look for partners and not mere benefactors, and to explore other revenue sources like crowdsourcing and individual giving, also attractive in the eyes of potential corporate donors.  

Jiří Suchánek, CEO of Pilsen 2015, told the story of his city’s and region’s multi-stakeholder rebranding exercise. Pilsen 2015 doubled the average length of stays in town, mixing contemporary arts, popular celebrations, transnational collaborations with Bavaria and the opening of new multi-purpose creativity-boosting venues like Depo2015.

Danial HermanMinister of Culture of the Czech Republic, outlined his vision of a prosperous future where industrial heritage and scientific culture play a crucial part. He highlighted the role of science centres and museums in preserving and promoting industrial heritage and cited Techmania’s historic connection and present partnership with Skoda as a best practice example. “Culture is food for your souls. We need it at all times, including difficult ones”, he concluded.

Drahomíra Mandíková, Member of the Board of Pilsner Urquell, gave the company’s perspective on CSR. Inspired by the UN’s Global Goals, Pilsner Urquell’s CSR policy is far from a “nice add-on”: it is fully integrated into its business strategy. Examples include up-front payments for barley and hop suppliers or an incentive scheme awarding water-saving employees bonuses. She offered youth employment as an area for possible collaborations between science engagement organisations and private companies, and urged attendees willing to partner up with businesses to start by understanding what the latter do.  


Three workshops and a new member service on the horizon

Paul Jennings from Xcentuate facilitated a first workshop on partnerships and collaborations. He urged participants to examine the reasons for their organisations to collaborate with others: for survival, higher gains, bigger impact… or even love? Senior Managers worked on the dos, don’ts and conditions of collaboration.

Ecsite Creativity Awards winner Norsk Teknisk Museum from Oslo, Norway, had been offered a session slot at the Directors Forum as part of their prize. Jan Alfred Andersson took the opportunity to challenge attendees to be politically bold. He shared the Norsk Teknisk Museum’s conviction that science centres and museums have a crucial role to play in addressing the challenges of our democracies put under pressure: “We can be safe havens for complex discussions”, he argued. Intense group discussions followed on the political role of our organisations, and participants offered “hot issues” for consideration by science centres and museums: equality in marriage, the one-health concept, our digital footprint, the refugee crisis…

The Directors Forum also gave Carlos Catalao from Ciência Viva, Lisbon, the opportunity to present a new member service developed by his team for Ecsite Full members: Ecsite Move. This online platform, going live in January 2016, will allow staff of participating organisations to book free visits to each other’s venues all around Europe.

On the last morning, the Ecsite team facilitated a workshop exploring possible futures for the Directors Forum. Participants ranked networking and peer learning as their top reasons for attending, and underlined the importance of the Directors Forum as a safe and trusted arena to share lessons learnt, a place to exchange ideas, information and broader perspectives. Consensual suggestions for change included a higher involvement of members in planning and delivering contents; fewer keynote speakers, bringing in refreshing outside perspectives; more workshops; and more opportunities to exchange with the Ecsite Board.


A rich social programme

Last but not least, attendees enjoyed a rich social programme. A welcome reception was held at the Pilsner Urquell brewery on Wednesday 18 November. Participants met the master brewer, enjoyed a tour of the brewery and tasted several beer vintages accompanied by a buffet of typical Czech food. 

19 November was “veggie Thursday”: to reduce the event’s environmental foot print, no meat or fish was served on that day, which gave the Techmania chef an opportunity to showcase his culinary creativity. Techmania orchestrated a dazzling Nocturne: dozens of dancers, acrobats, mimes, singers and other artists took participants on a mysterious journey through the science centre. After a seated dinner, Techmania showed its latest film production in the planetarium. A candle was lit in memory of Sally Duensing at the start of dinner and Ecsite President Michiel Buchel said a few words of tribute.   




  • #EcsiteDF2015
  • CSR
  • industrial heritage
  • full members



Techmania Science Center

Techmania means an infrastructure on 30,000 sq.m2, new Science Center and 3D Planetarium, exhibition area of 10,000 sq.m2, 1/4 of million curious visitors per year, interactive exhibits, venue for shows, workshops, laboratories and maker space, the 2D/3D full dome projections, the Science On a Sphere technology. Techmania offers a wide portfolio of activities on business field as the development, fabrication and rent of the exhibitions and the development and production of 2D / 3D movies for fulldome projection. All with the respect to follow the rules of the relialable partnership.