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Euroscience Open Forum 2012

Final Report Summary - ESOF2012 (Euroscience Open Forum 2012)

Executive Summary:

The Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) is Europe's largest, general science meeting and is held in a major Europe city every two years. Dublin had the honour of hosting ESOF2012, from July 11th-15th, 2012. ESOF2012 was the most successful meeting in the series to date. An eclectic Programme of 162 sessions with 660 speakers showcased the most exciting of European research, covered topics ranging from archaeology to cosmology. The programme featured an unprecedented 27 highly-distinguished keynote speakers, including 5 Nobel Laureates; the Director-General of CERN; the Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, European Space Agency; the Administrator of NASA; the Director of the National Science Foundation; the chair of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and the European Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science.

The support and active participation of the European Commission was a major contributor to the success of the meeting. Important discussions were held on Framework 7, Horizon 2020 and the European Research Area. Over 4,400 delegates from 75 countries attended ESOF2012 and many contributed to lively debates and discussions with leading researchers from across the spectrum of disciplines. The state-of-the-art venue, the Convention Centre Dublin, located on the banks of the River Liffey in the heart of the city, added to experience of delegates and speakers, alike. As at previous meetings, young researchers were very prominent at ESOF2012. Their presence greatly enlivened the Science Programme and a parallel Careers Programme addressed many of their particular concerns and interests. Porridge with a Prof allowed them to chat in an informal setting with distinguished role-models from academia and enterprise. The Science-2-Business programme focused on transforming the outputs of research into successful business innovations. It consisted of a series of workshops to provide practical help to scientists who were either curious or serious about turning their ideas into viable business propositions. Finally, the Science in the City festival, featuring 77 events over 10 days, linked Dublin's vibrant social and cultural life with contemporary science and provided an entertaining complement to the formal programme for the delegates.

ESOF2012 had a huge impact at the national level and will leave a significant legacy for science in Ireland. The President of Ireland, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and senior Government Ministers attended ESOF2012. The level of popular interest in the meeting, and the associated 'Science in the City" festival, was unprecedented for a science-themed event. Such was the success of the festival, that a number of the ESOF2012 partners will support a three-day science event in Dublin in July 2013, entitled the "Festival of Curiosity". The richness of the programme generated huge international media interest. Over 470 accredited media, from 40 countries, attended. ESOF2012 firmly established the ESOF meeting as the premier European meeting on research and research policy. ESOF2012 also projected a very positive image of European research beyond Europe, which may be its greatest legacy.

Project Context and Objectives:

The Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) is Europe's largest, general science meeting and is held in a leading Europe city every two years. ESOF 2012 was hosted in Dublin from July 11th-15th, 2012. The first meeting was held in Stockholm in 2004, followed by Munich (2006), Barcelona (2008) and Turin (2010). Dublin was awarded the honour of hosting ESOF in 2012, following an open competition. Copenhagen will host then event in 2014. ESOF is an interdisciplinary, pan-European meeting, held under the auspices of Euroscience, which aims to:
Showcase the latest advances in science and technology;
Promote a dialogue on the role of science and technology in society and public policy;
Stimulate and provoke public interest, excitement and debate about science and technology.

ESOF2012 incorporated a number of distinct stands of activity:
A Science programme of seminars, workshops and debates on the latest science and technology.
A Media programme to promote science communication.
A Careers programme for young researchers.
A Science-2-Business programme to link basic research with industrial applications.
An Exhibition to showcase the best of European public and private research.
A Science in the City programme to engage with the general public.
A Social programme to ensure that delegate experience is socially, culturally and intellectually invigorating.

The event is unique in the diversity of delegates who attend: ESOF2012 attracted top researchers from the natural sciences and the social sciences; business leaders; senior EU and government officials; and international scientific media. They came to discuss the best of European science and to address all of the current major global scientific challenges, including Energy, Climate Change, Food and Health. Delegates attended ESOF2012 for a number of reasons:
To learn at first-hand of the latest advances in science and technology.
To participate in debates on important, contemporary issues for science and society.
To contribute to discussions on European policy.
To engage with and question the leading international researchers in their fields.
To meet old friends and make some new ones ESOF2012 attracted researchers from across Europe and beyond, thus providing fantastic networking opportunities.

Project Results:

ESOF2012 provided a forum for open discussion on a wide range of scientific and research topics. Leading researchers from Europe and beyond presented the latest developments in areas ranging from High Energy Physics to Immunology and engaged in discussion and debate with the delegates and international media. ESOF2012 featured 27 distinguished keynote speakers included five Nobel Laureates, the heads of CERN, NASA and the NSF and the European Commissioner for Research Innovation & Science. Discussions were held on important issues such as Horizon 2020 and the European Research Area with particular focus on Gender Equality in Research and Responsible Research and Innovation. A memorandum of understanding was signed by the European Commission and the NSF on supporting trans-Atlantic mobility of researchers. ESOF2012 also hosted a symposium as part of the ASEAN-EU Year of Science, Technology and Innovation 2012.

Potential Impact:

The greatest impact of ESOF2012 was that it presented an exciting and vibrant showcase of the best of European research. ESOF2012 succeeded in elevating the ESOF meetings to a new level of importance on the European stage. It firmly established the meeting as the premier European meeting on research and research policy.
The number and calibre of keynote speakers at ESOF, the breath and quality of the programme sessions, combined with the venue and overall organisation of the meeting were key contributors to this success. The strong support of the European Commission for ESOF2012 was also crucial in achieving this impact.
ESOF2012 also supported the development of the European Research Area by helping create a greater sense of European identity for European research and researchers. ESOF2012 also provided a positive representation of European research to those outside Europe. For example, the heads of the NSF, NASA and AAAS all attended the meeting. This is testimony to how important the meeting is now considered in the US.

At the national level, ESOF2012 also had a large impact and will leave a significant legacy for science in Ireland. The President of Ireland, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and senior Government Ministers attended ESOF2012. The level of popular interest in the meeting and the associated Public Engagement Programme, Science in the City", was unprecedented for a science-themed event. Such was the success of the event, that a number of the ESOF2012 partners have agreed to support a three-day science event in Dublin in July 2013, entitled the "Festival of Curiosity".

Project website: http://www.esof2012.org and http://www.dublinscience2012.ie