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18/19 In Review: Director's Report

Posted: 06 December 2019

A Word from Simon

50 years after Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on a celestial body beyond Earth, the Edinburgh Science Festival embraced Frontiers as the theme of its 31st edition. At the heart of all science lies an unquenchable curiosity; a deep urge to explore and explain the unknown and to push the Frontiers of our knowledge about ourselves, the world around us and our place in the wider Universe. We embraced the spirit of adventure and enquiry, took small steps into favoured familiar territories and some giant leaps in new and exciting directions.

It’s been a year of change and reflection – we changed the name of our organisation to reflect our ever-diversifying programmes and our commitment to delivering the best in innovative events and experiences. Under the banner of Edinburgh Science, we deliver Festival, Learning and Worldwide programmes that bring science and technology to vibrant life; communicate their educational, social and economic benefits and engage and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds for generations to come. 

Following the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in December 2018, we spent a long time reflecting on the climate emergency and what our organisation could do to address this crisis. We have a long-held commitment to programming for the planet and bringing issues of environment and sustainability to the public’s attention however, the scale of change needed to meet the IPCC targets means that we all have to do more. We looked at our own policies and announced that we would no longer accept money from fossil fuel companies at the end of current agreements in May 2019. This was a difficult decision for the organisation to make and brought to an end some long-standing relationships with valued sponsors of our learning programmes but Edinburgh Science is determined to show leadership in tackling the world’s climate crisis and highlighting the challenges and opportunities that this revolution will bring. 

To reflect this leadership position and in response to an exciting challenge from 2019 Edinburgh Medallist Christiana Figueres, we also convened a group of leaders of business, academia and charity sectors along with representatives from the Scottish Government, to discuss ideas and opportunities to help Scotland reach its ambitious climate targets. This Climate Opportunity Ideas Factory will continue to meet regularly and I feel genuinely optimistic about the ideas and discussions that these high-level influencers are having. 

So, as we push these new Frontiers of our own, I’m delighted to report another successful year for our Festival, Learning and Worldwide programmes. We continue to support the STEM leaders of tomorrow through our schools touring programme Generation Science and secondary careers education event Careers Hive, the Edinburgh Science Festival boasted a varied and thought-provoking programme of ideas, and through our partnership with the Abu Dhabi Science Festival we continue to inspire international audiences to embrace science in all its forms.

As we look towards the future, I am delighted by the opportunities that await Edinburgh Science – much of which could not be achieved without support. Through the Platforms for Creative Excellence (PLACE) fund our work as a world-class provider of education and science communication has been accelerated and has resulted in the successful delivery of our Delegate Programme, early planning for multiple show-stopping exhibitions and produced the framework for our exciting new skills development programme. I personally believe our skills programme is one of the most exciting things Edinburgh Science has ever done.

We simply could not deliver any of these projects without the continued and passionate support of our partners, sponsors and stakeholders. I would like to offer my personal thanks to our dedicated team of staff, as well as our board of directors. And importantly, thanks to our audiences, of all ages, all over the world, for their support, enthusiasm and involvement.

Dr Simon Gage, Director and CEO