Euroscience Open Forum 2016

President of the SciDF, Yoran Beldengrün, participated in ESOF 2016, a forum where different agents discuss current and future breakthroughs in contemporary science.

The Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) took place in July 23-26 in Manchester, City of Science for 2016. Thinkers, innovators, policy makers, journalists and educators came together in a city where science and technology is strongly marking its history due to Manchester’s major role in the industrialisation and textile fabrication.

At ESOF, current scientific issues were discussed. Among them were graphene, CRISPR, the human brain or artificial intelligence.

Many sessions devoted themselves to science policy issues. Brexit and its impact on the science sector was a hot topic. High profile speakers, such as Carlos Moedas (EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation), Jo Jonson (UK Minister of State for Universities and Science), Dame Ann Glover (Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission from 2012 to 2014) or Sir Mark Walport, gave an outlook on British science after Brexit. Much remains still open at this moment about the future of Britain’s science within the EU and H2020.

Science diplomacy was discussed by highlighting examples such as the synchrotron SESAME, a project led by UNESCO, at which scientists from the Middle-East are collaborating outside the existing political tensions. But just any international scientific program or competition (e.g. LYISF, Famelab, Falling Walls, EUCYS) were mentioned as science diplomacy tools, since people from different cultures get the opportunity to meet and exchange knowledge on neutral scientific ground.

Many major organisations from the scientific world were present at the exhibition area. Yoran seized the chance to meet Rush Holt (CEO of AAAS – The World’s Largest General Scientific Society) and pitch him the SciDF

Other more political oriented sessions were devoted to science advisory or Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI).

Besides to politics also science communication, education and business were discussed. In the session organised by Falling Walls, Yoran showed the audience how to explain a complex scientific topic in 3 min. He was aided by his puppet, Xixo, with whom he already participated this year at Famelab Spain.

ESOF also offered what they call a Pi with the Prof event, in which young researchers have the chance to have lunch meetings with professors of various fields. Yoran had lunch with James Wilsdon, who is working in research policy, science advisory —a currently growing field— and science and democracy.

Alongside the main program, many organisations held side events. Yoran attended the Euroscience General Assembly, where member of the SciDF Gilles Mirambeau was elected head of the editorial board of Euroscientist. They also joined the launch event of Sense about Science, an independent campaigning NGO that monitors the use and abuse of scientific evidence in EU policy. SciDF exchanged thoughts with some of the leaders of Sense about Science to find synergies and think about future collaborations.

To sum up, the ESOF was an amazing experience, giving us a very broad view on very relevant topics for science’s role in the political, economic and social areas. ESOF tackled issues very similar to those the SciDF aims at transferring to the scientific community. The event was a perfect place for networking and getting inspired by people who share similar values and are active on other parts of the planet. We will follow closely the work of Euroscience and can definitely say: See you in two years in Toulouse at the ESOF 2018.

Yoran Beldengrün