Skip to main content

EuroScience Open Forum ESOF2018

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ESOF2018 (EuroScience Open Forum ESOF2018)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2018-11-30

ESOF (EuroScience Open Forum) is the largest interdisciplinary Forum on Science in Europe. Created in 2004 by EuroScience, ESOF offers a unique framework for interaction of scientists, innovators, policy makers, business, media and the general public. The 8th edition of ESOF took place in Toulouse, France, 9 - 14 July 2018, with the motto “Sharing science: towards new horizons”. Toulouse became thereby “European City of Science 2018”. The « Université fédérale de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées » led the organisation of this event with EuroScience and numerous private, public and institutional partners.
The general objectives were to
• Present cutting-edge scientific and technological developments in all sciences, showcasing European excellence
• Foster a European dialogue on science, technology and innovation, society and policy by offering a platform for cross-disciplinary interaction
• Provide a valuable resource, including career advice, for young scientists
• Stimulate the European public’s engagement with science and technology.

More specific objectives were to
1. underline the importance of sharing science
2. balance gender and age in sessions of various formats
3. develop a dedicated programme for journalists and media
4. encourage young scientists’ participation and ensure their implication with key roles
5. foster the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach with its thematic components (public engagement, open access, gender, ethics, science education)
6. support and promote the preparation of Horizon Europe.

The motto of ESOF 2018 reflects the trend in research towards dynamic, networked, multi-collaborative ecosystems that involve multiple types of actors and rely on a citizen/user-centric approach. Only such a dialogue can re-inforce the trust relationship between the stakeholders in research and innovation, the role of citizen science, social innovation, interest in science of the young generation and of the general public.
"As usual, ESOF 2018 contained programmes on Science, science to business and careers, along with an exhibition, satellite events, Science in the City festival and social events. It was a true European and international success thanks to the enthusiastic local team, the competence of the international and local committee members and the many local, national, European and international partners. The main indicators show 4036 participants from 101 countries, all 28 EU countries were represented, 34% of the participants were less than 35 years old. There were 449 journalists, 228 sessions, a quasi-gender parity both among speakers and among participants, a high-level presence with the contribution of 4 Nobel laureates and a Fields medallist and many renowned scientists among the > 1000 speakers; 94% of the participants answering the surveys were satisfied or very satisfied. More than 40 senior politicians were present, including European Commissioner Carlos Moedas for Science, Research and Innovation and the French Minister of Higher Education, research and innovation, Frédérique Vidal. The participation of European Commission officers was remarkable; the Director General of Research and innovation Jean-Eric Paquet, the Director of the European Research Council Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, various personalities from the Marie Curie actions and the Joint Research Centre as well as numerous members of European expert groups, e.g. the group of chief scientific advisers or the European group on ethics of science and new technologies were active in sessions, but also in the exhibition, satellite events, Agoras and the Science in the City Festival.

The programme, with up to 12 parallel sessions addressed 10 main themes and 4 cross-cutting axes (ethics/RRI, inequalities, gender issues, risk/safety), with scientific and science policy aspects (133 sessions); 27 ""Science to business"" sessions involved large companies and SMEs and 28 career sessions were very lively. Besides, the programme offered 5 Plenary Keynotes and 9 Plenary panel discussions, 8 Poster sessions, 5 EuroScience events and 3 Ceremonies (opening, awards and closing). Highlights were about Science in Europe with plenary panels about Horizon Europe, Open Science and Open access, with a preview on the future Plan S, reflections about inequalities in European science and innovation, analyses of the challenges of climate change, the future of space research, science diplomacy, social innovation, but also the measure of time in the 21st century, our cosmic origins, reproducibility in research, and the challenges for young scientists."
"ESOF 2018 has been innovative in several ways:
In the preparation of the forum
• A group of scientific correspondents appointed by the university encouraged an efficient implication of local scientists
• A cohort of ~ 40 ambassadors including PhDs was selected in order to mobilise various communities and promote the event
• The creation of a label “ESOF 2018, Toulouse European City of Science” for scientific events organised in 2017-18 in the host region with characteristics in the spirit of ESOF: scientific excellence, involvement of the youth, addressing societal challenges or involving the public with a European/international dimension. More than 190 such events took place involving > 50 000 participants
• A series of 7 local scientific preparatory meetings on thematic aspects relevant for ESOF was organised.
During the forum
• A prestigious opening ceremony was celebrating European science and combining 4 main science topics (climate issues, artificial intelligence, health and ageing, the future of work) and art (music, dance, sculpture, virtual painting)
• A musical identity was introduced via an original jingle for the arrival of the speakers throughout the forum
• A mascot was designed by high school students and transmitted to the next ESOF (Trieste 2020)
• inclusion for the first time of posters (> 250) with a competition for students, ""flash"" presentations by young researchers right after the plenary panels
• A web App that displayed also a series of networking tools to maximise interactions between participants
• A YESOF (ESOF for the Youth) for school age children
• Lively Agoras in the exhibition area, with pitches by enterprises and other stakeholders
• Two sessions a day of the "" Train of prickly questions "" an original and humoristic way of dealing with tricky subjects
• An opening of the ""Patisserie with the Prof"" events not only to scientists but also to journalists and policy makers who wished to share their rich experience with young participants
Around the forum
• The Festival Science in the City with 125 projects and above all the Science Village at the main central Square in Toulouse, was a popular success and had a very good return. More than 50 000 people took advantage of the festival (7-15 July)
• Twenty satellite events, 10 of them being international, reaching more than 2500 participants
• 0pening of the Forum to the general public on 14 July with themes chosen accordingly (e.g. Citizen science, Fablabs, the science of fireworks, citizen debates on Europe and of course the closing ceremony).

The Forum has fully played its role as a catalyser for networking through its various facets and fostered different types of interactions. The closing evening of the Year of Toulouse European City of Science on December 18, 2018 gave glimpses of a dynamic ESOF legacy for the future.
"
Closing ceremony - handing over to ESOF 2020 - and the ESOF mascot
Different facets of ESOF 2018: Science in the City, Conference place, ESOF party, Agora square
Climate change approached in various formats and sessions at ESOF 2018
Images of the opening ceremony with science and art; sessions and activites for young scientists
Various session formats, tarins of prickly questions, labelled events posters