British Science Festival returning to Birmingham in 2010

Media release from the British Science Association and Aston University

For immediate release - 2 April 2009

The British Science Festival – one of Europe’s largest public science events - will be coming to Birmingham in September 2010, the British Science Association and Aston University jointly announced today.

The Festival brings over 350 of the UK’s top scientists, engineers and commentators together to discuss the latest developments in science and technology with the public. Tens of thousands of visitors regularly attend a wide variety of events – from hands-on family days, to debates on current hot topics and unique opportunities to question the UK’s top scientists.

The British Science Association also announced the appointment of Lord Sainsbury as its future President for 2010. Lord Sainsbury will assume the Presidency on the first day of the Festival and deliver his Presidential Address on the theme ‘Science and human progress’.

Key local influencers in the fields of science and science education will be meeting Lord Sainsbury next month to discuss plans for the 2010 British Science Festival. The event proposal process is also now open and organisations, institutions and businesses – from the West Midlands or otherwise – are invited to submit proposals to be part of this huge public event.

Roland Jackson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, said: ‘We are delighted to be returning to Birmingham, a Science City with its diverse communities and cultural activities, its strong science and technology-based industries and its thriving educational sector. This major national event, in the full glare of the media, will draw public attention to the latest developments in science and technology, and it will stimulate public involvement in discussions about the ways in which science and technology can help meet the challenges of our time.’

Professor Julia King, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said: ‘We are delighted that Aston University has been chosen to be lead partner in the British Science Festival in Birmingham in 2010. We have a long history of engaging with business and industry, as well as the diverse communities in Birmingham and the region, and we are confident our links will help to bring the city together to celebrate science and drive innovation.

‘Aston is a university with an established reputation for research excellence in engineering and life sciences, contributing to a broad, world-class research and innovation agenda being developed and delivered by institutions across the city and beyond. I believe we will put on a really great Festival which will confirm the West Midlands as a leading centre for science, technology and innovation.’

Mick Laverty, Chief Executive of Advantage West Midlands, said: ‘I am delighted that the British Science Festival is coming to the region in 2010. Innovation and the application of science are great ways of driving the economy as well as improving quality of life.

‘Advantage West Midlands, through the Birmingham Science City initiative in particular, is demonstrating how the science and technology in West Midlands universities can improve the quality of life of people in the region and support local businesses. The Festival will attract thousands of people to Birmingham and will also capture the excitement of science for the region’s children – our future innovators.’

Stephen Hughes, Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, said: ‘We are delighted that the British Science Festival is being held in Birmingham in 2010.  It provides a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the role and importance of science and innovation in all of our lives and its contribution towards the growth and prosperity of our economy and businesses.’

 Almost every year since 1831, when the British Science Association was founded as the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the Festival (previously known as the Annual Meeting) has taken place at a different location around the country. During that time, Birmingham has hosted the Festival eight times – with the most recent being in 1996.

The Festival has been the stage for many iconic moments in history – such as the first use of the word ‘scientist’ (in 1834) and the famous debate about Darwin’s controversial theory of evolution between Thomas Huxley and the Bishop of Oxford (in 1860).

For more information about the Festival, including how to submit an event proposal, visit www.britishscienceassociation.org/festival.

The 2010 British Science Festival is organised by the British Science Association in partnership with Aston University and is supported by Advantage West Midlands, Birmingham City University and the University of Birmingham.


 For further information please contact:

Lisa Hendry, Press Officer, British Science Association
Tel: +44 (0)20 7019 4946
Email: lisa.hendry@britishscienceassociation.org 

Notes for Editors

1.    British Science Association
The British Science Association is the UK's nationwide, open membership organisation that exists to advance the public understanding, accessibility and accountability of the sciences and engineering. Established in 1831, the British Science Association organises major initiatives across the UK, including National Science and Engineering Week, the annual British Science Festival, programmes of regional and local events, and an extensive programme for young people in schools and colleges. For more information please visit www.britishscienceassociation.org.

The British Science Association is part of the ‘Science: [So What? So Everything]’ campaign which aims to show people how science benefits our everyday lives, is crucial in strengthening the UK economy and meeting some of the major challenges of our time. For more information please visit www.direct.gov.uk/sciencesowhat.

2.    Aston University
Aston University is a Top 20 UK university with strengths in Health Sciences, Business, Engineering, Languages and Social Sciences. Aston has an excellent reputation for its links with business, industry and the professions, through activities such as knowledge transfer and graduate recruitment, and for research which makes an impact on individuals, organisations and society in general. It is best known for its unrivalled graduate recruitment record, its professionally and vocationally oriented degree courses, and its sandwich years. The campus is located in the centre of Birmingham, just five minutes walk from the city centre. Aston was founded in 1895 and received its University Charter in 1966.

3.    Advantage West Midlands
Advantage West Midlands is one of nine Regional Development Agencies in England whose role is to transform the English regions through sustainable economic development. For more information visit www.advantagewm.co.uk.  

4.    British Science Festival
The British Science Festival is the UK’s largest science festival, attracting over 350 speakers and thousands of visitors, and has been taking place since 1831. The 2009 Festival is taking place from 5-10 September at the University of Surrey, Guildford, and across the region. It is organised in partnership with the University of Surrey, Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council and is supported by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA). For further information, visit www.britishscienceassociation.org/festival.

5.    The Festival has been held in Birmingham eight times: in 1839, 1849, 1865, 1886, 1913, 1950, 1977 and 1996.

6.    Some of the key historic Festival dates:
1834 – The word ‘scientist’ was used for the first time
1841 – Richard Owen coins the term “dinosaur” meaning “great lizard”
1856 – Henry Bessemer describes the first inexpensive industrial process for the mass-production of
1860 – Huxley and Wilberforce famously debate Darwin’s controversial theory of evolution
1894 – The first public demonstration of wireless transmission over a few hundred yards by Sir Oliver
1899 – JJ Thompson announces discovery of the electron

7.    Lord Sainsbury of Turville
After reading History and Psychology at King’s College, Cambridge, David Sainsbury joined J Sainsbury plc in 1963, later receiving an M.B.A. from the Columbia Graduate School of Business in New York. He was Finance Director of J. Sainsbury plc from 1973 – 1990, Deputy Chairman from 1988 – 1992, and Chairman from 1992 – 1998. He became Lord Sainsbury of Turville in 1997. He is an Honorary Fellow of King’s College Cambridge and in 2003 received, on behalf of the Sainsbury family, the Andrew Carnegie medal for philanthropy.

Lord Sainsbury was appointed Minister of Science and Innovation from July 1998 until November 2006, and had responsibility for the Office of Science and Technology, Innovation, Space, the Bioscience and Chemical Industries and the Patent Office. In 2007 he produced for the Government a review of the Government’s science and innovation policies ‘The Race to the Top’.

8.    World Conference of Science Journalists - 30 June-2 July 2009