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Highlights from the 2018 Ecsite Directors Forum

Visit of the Natural Sciences Museum, 2018 Ecsite Directors Forum
Attendees of the 2018 Ecsite Directors ForumVisit to FabLab Barcelona as part of the 2018 Ecsite Directors Forum2018 Directors Forum participants

Dialogue with the Ecsite Board

68 Directors and Senior Managers of Full Ecsite member organisations gathered in Barcelona last month for the 2018 Ecsite Directors Forum, hosted by The Natural Sciences Museum of Barcelona, together with Barcelona Ciència.

The topic "​Science engagement organisations as Citizen labs", invited participants to explore how open science labs can become an opportunity for science engagement organisations.

"There is more to Barcelona than sun and paella", declared Joan Subirats, Commissioner for Culture of Barcelona City Council, at the Opening. "Our city is also a city of science and a European capital of Research & Innovation  - at the service of citizens," he added. The next day and a half indeed gave participants a glimpse of Barcelona’s vibrant citizen-led innovation scene. The programme included visits to the huge FabLab Barcelona and to Fabrica del Sol, a sustainable housing lab also comprising a circular digital fabrication workshop. Representatives of several local initiatives (a citizen lab, a FabLab, and a ScienceShop) also shared their experience in a marketplace workshop.

Two keynote speakers shed light on the topic. Artur Serra, European expert in living labs and citizen laboratories and co-founder of the local Citilab project (with an "i" like citizens - and not an "y" like city), based his talk on this concrete example, seen through his own anthropologist’s eyes. Discussing the emergence of citizens as a fourth helix in the research & innovation system, he called Citilab a PPP partnership: people-private-public. He urged the science engagement sector to join forces with the living labs movement to build a "universal innovation system" of "collaboratories" for Europe, modelled on our universal healthcare system. Mapping convergences between the two fields, he noted that ENoLL, the European Network of Living Labs, had "empowering" at the heart of its mission, mirroring Ecsite’s "emboldening" message. More on Artur Serra’s ideas in this recent Spokes article.

The second keynote speaker was Lucia Malfent, Operational Manager of the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft´s Open Innovation in Science Center, an Austrian organisation advancing open innovation principles in science. Entitled "Harnessing the crowd: Creating impact through public engagement", her talk started from a mental health research project her organisation led, gathering real life contributions from 100,000 people as a starting point to define seven research strands on the question "how can children of mentally ill parents remain healthy?". She shared her organisation’s experience of pulling together heterogeneous research teams that “produce better research than homogeneous ones – but need more management”. "Open innovation opens doors," she concluded, and "we believe that the world knows more than science alone".

The Directors Forum is also an opportunity for Full Ecsite members to exchange with their Board and discuss strategic issues for our network. This year participants were invited to draw the agenda themselves and four topics of discussion, each tackled by a separate group, emerged from this exercise: Ecsite’s voice on environmental issues; Ecsite governance questions; Ecsite’s voice on social inclusion and equity; and Ecsite’s role at the interplay between research and science engagement.

Last but not least, attendees got a flavour of the local museum scene, with an exclusive visit of the Natural Science Museum on the first night, and two special visits for those extending their stay: to CosmoCaixa and to the Museum's Botanical Garden.


Want to know more? Browse through the pictures, check out the programme, get a glimpse of social media activity on Twitter.

Save the date: the next edition will be taking place on 13-15 November in Trondheim, Norway. It will be hosted by the Trondheim Science Center and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s University Museum.


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Director's forum