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Love at first sight at the conference

Maria João Fonseca was at the centre of #Ecsite2017 love triangle: her team, all conference participants and her museum, the Natural History and Science Museum of the University of Porto and the Ciência Viva network

Love at first sight at the conference

Online registration for the 2018 Ecsite Annual Conference in Geneva is coinciding with Valentine's day (14 February). To celebrate, we collected stories of encounters at the conference that led to long-lasting friendships, fruitful collaborations, creative projects or even love stories.


Andreas Heinecke
Founder, Dialogue Social Entreprise
Hamburg, Germany

"In 2001 the Ecsite conference took place in the charming small city of Lulea in Sweden. Mikko Mylykoski from the Heureka science centre invited me to talk about Dialogue in the Dark, and after some hesitations I joined Ecsite for the first time. After my short presentation the audience was invited to ask questions. After a while I heard a female voice with a strong French accent. Extremely clever questions were asked despite her weak English.

After the session I approached her and introduced myself as “The dark man”. She wasn’t impressed, and asked what I was up to apart from my dark business. I told her I was working on a concept called “social lab”. More penetrating questions followed, and I felt pretty grilled to explain what "social lab" actually means. I spontaneously gave her an example: let’s swap our cell phones for a day, and exchange our telecommunication identity. This was in her eyes “original”, and satisfied her curiosity.

Our love started, and is still growing. Orna since joined the Dialogue Social Enterprise team and we had another unforgettable Ecsite conference moment last year as we stood on stage at opening event to collect our Mariano Gago Ecsite Award. We rarely have the same opinion about things and often answers generate more questions. But we both do agree on the collateral benefits of Ecsite conferences - especially the 2001 one."


Ryan Jenkins & Sebastian Martin
The force behind the #EcsiteMakers movement, running the dedicated MakerSpace at the conference

"It’s the kind of relationship that will make dozens of stuffed electronic toys travel around the globe, have people carry appliances through the streets of Porto in the early morning and stay up late to build display shelves and MakerSpace signs out of hot glue and cardboard. Our relationship is sutained through long-distance connections with skype calls at odd hours and frequent email check-ins, and the flame burns brighter for a few days every June when the team is reunited to build and play together. Each year the Ecsite conference provides the perfect backdrop for makers and tinkerers from around the world to come together to share ideas and invite new people into the fold.

Over the years, the Ecsite MakerSpace has been sustained by the deep friendships of the people who worked together to make everything run (mostly) smoothly. We come from different countries and represent institutions of all shapes and sizes but share a common bond based on a grassroots spirit of tinkering and embracing unexpected ideas. The community of Ecsite makers will reconnect again in Geneva this June to celebrate the creative collisions of materials, tools and technologies together. "


Ursula Lavrencic & Auke Touwslager
Infotude & FINOVINO

“What is this wine?! Can I have some more?” people were asking while turning the label-less bottles for a clue. It was at the Business Bistro Happy Hour of the 2016 Ecsite Annual Conference , and we were there to promote our art & science installation Cell Phone Disco.

While trying hard to keep up with the demand for the local farmers' salami and cheese we had also brought from Slovenia, we were happily explaining that this peculiar dark ruby wine is young Kraški Teran from our neighbour. And that he bottled it just a day before we came to Graz.

The compliments and appreciation coming from such an international group of people made us realise that we weren't the only ones loving these hyperlocal artisan wines straight from the barrel.

A year later we teamed up with two small & independent winemakers, decided for environmentally friendly packaging (bag-in-box), set up an e-commerce site and FINOVINO was born. Each week we tap fresh from the barrel and ship to winelovers directly. Just a warning, when you try Teran it could happen that you end up with an eternal love for it, as we did when we moved to the Karst region."


Mariette Wennmacher
Ecsite Administrative Executive
Brussels, Belgium

"I fell in love with the Ecsite community at my first conference in Gothenburg five years ago.
From 14 February 2018, opening day of the conference registration, my inbox will turn into a daily anticipation of the conference, as I see your names pass one by one. These names evoke stories, remind me a friendly word, open smiles, warm hugs, mindful discussions, lost shoes, big headaches, pigeon feathers, invitations to visit your institutions, sharing the dance floor, strengthening the relationship with my colleagues.
I can’t list all of you but maybe I should name Samar, Nevine, Emilio, Antonia, Daniel, Elisa, Silvia, Veselina, Domingo, Christian, or Robert who make me feel like the piece of a jigsaw where every single one of us is needed to feel complete. I shall never feel alone again in the world.
See you in Geneva!"


Christian Sonehed & Andreas Brandell
EXPO Booking
#Ecsite2018 Gold Sponsor

"We walked to the exhibition centre on the first day of the Ecsite conference with giant butterflies in our stomach. We simply had no idea what to expect over the next three days. Already there at our booth, browsing through one of our folders, stood Roy.

It was 2016 and we had spent the last five years building a booking and resource management system with a couple of science centres. We were really enjoying the spirit of this community, and as more organisations became aware of our solution we felt it was time to display it to the rest of the world. And even though we were not sure it was the right context for us, we picked the Ecsite Annual Conference in Graz to be our first time ever to exhibit. Finding Roy in our booth that morning made us feel at home from the start and before we knew it we started talking about future goals.

Since then, we have visited Roy Schedler and our friends at Technorama (Winterthur, Switzerland) and spent both days and nights in their impressive facilities while incorporating EXPO Booking in their organisation. We are also dedicated fans of the Ecsite Conference and you can be sure to meet us again this year in Geneva."


Maria João Fonseca
Head of Communication
Natural History Museum of the University of Porto, Portugal
#Ecsite2017 Host representative

"As the host of the 2017 Ecsite Annual Conference I formed part of an ultimate love triangle. In the centre of the triangle? Me. And positioned at its three angles: my team; all conference participants; and, last but not least, my museum, the Natural History and Science Museum of the University of Porto and the Ciência Viva network. Together we gave birth to a conference whose theme precisely invited us to celebrate life everywhere. From deciding on the best menu for our guests to the most suitable ways of engaging the local community, all of it while meeting tight deadlines, what a ride it was… Truth be written, I could not have asked for better partners to join me in what has been one of my most exciting professional experiences.

Now, all those who have already attended an Ecsite Conference know exactly what I mean, but I strongly advise all newcomers to not miss the opportunity to experience this feeling – this is a magical event. An enthusiastic, curious, full-of-ideas and ready-for-action group of people from all ages and backgrounds, with a plethora of competencies, interests and expertise, who discusses, shares, listens to and reflects upon failures (yes, yes, you read it correctly!) and successes in one of the most dynamic, creative and supportive environments I have ever seen. This is, to me, nothing short of spectacular. Finally, witnessing our museum opening its doors and welcoming this wonderful network of outstanding professionals, seeing how the museum behaved and responded to attendees' needs and stimuli, was truly inspiring. I am humbled to have been part of this magnificent love story!"

Don't miss the chance to meet your future friends, colleagues, business partners, or perhaps... Join this loving and inspiring community this June in Geneva!

Registrations are open now - the super early bird rate ends on 14 March.
25% discount for Ecsite Full, Sustaining and One person company members and 15% discount for Associate members!


  • #ecsite2018
  • Love
  • friendship
  • partnerships


2018 Ecsite Conference

A record-breaking 1,182 professionals from 58 countries gathered in Geneva, Switzerland for the 29th edition of the Ecsite Conference. It was hosted by the Natural History Museum of Geneva in partnership with CERN, University of Geneva Scienscope, and Campus Biotech.