A pilot project of science communication ran Biopop Consortium featuring participation, dialogue and shared decisions between young scientists and citizens. Financed under the 6th Framework Programme by the European Commission, the first ever of the kind granted to a group of young professionals.

In the main squares of Bologna (Italy) and Delft (Netherlands), a big tent have been set up and hosted the following activities:

  • laboratory experiments with DNA using home safe kitchen ingredients
  • observation of cells under microscope
  • live section and games for kids
  • 6 dialogue activities on GMO and food safety, genes and patents, pollution and alternative and renewable energy, new drugs and new therapies, genetics tests and privacy. The outcome of the discussion was submitted to the European Commission for consideration.

Dates of the event

8-9 October 2005 (Bologna), 1-2 April 2006 (Delft)

Facts about the project

  • 4 days of event in total
  • >4000 participants
  • >100 people from 5 European contries in the organization team
  • approximative cost € 400,000


More on the project

Despite the growing effort, it still isn’t possible to envision a single solution to science communication activities. Actors of this process are likely to play a key role in successful dialogue. We proposed a pilot study to explore new approaches to biotech communication, focused on two key aspects:

  • the actors were students and young life sciences researchers;
  • communicational events were organised in the main square of 5 selected cities using a mixture of animation, games for children, music, public discussions and real experiments performed with common kitchen “reagents” in an “open lab” environment.

the study was structured in three phases:

  1. The best available information on similar experiences and practices was collected and structured. The EFB Task Group on Public Perception composed a high profile advisory group in order to support young partners with the experience of high level scientists and journalists. An intensive training program was organized for people leading local events.
  2. “Pop” events were organised in an ad hoc designed tent: food safety, GMO issues and nutrition topics were addressed with a special approach in order to avoid a “deficit model” of communication. Feedback and contributions were collected in a bottom-up direction. A virtual city square was set-up to give continuity to people’s participation. Design, promotion and feedback collection was improved by the participation of SME’s involved in web development, communicational design, and through involvement of important media already interested in our activities.
  3. Results were analysed, discussed and completely documented. Appropriate dissemination was through the Internet and the capillary structures of participating organisations as well as through collaborating institutions and media. Results were available for further training activities and preparation of a future, and larger EU proposal.

Institutional Members involved in the project

Amicale des Elèves Ingénieurs de l’Ecole Supérieure de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg-ESBS (France), btS (Germany), ANBI (Italy), ASSB (Poland), GeNeYouS (Netherlands, former member)

The BIOPOP consortium

  • Association of Italian Biotechnologists (ANBI), Italy: Francesco Lescai (coordinator)
  • Aethia Srl -Power Computing Solutions, Italy: Giampaolo Perego
  • Observa Science and Society, Italy: Federico Neresini
  • Amicale des Elèves Ingénieurs de l’Ecole Supérieure de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg (ESBS), France: Amélie Chaboureau
  • Biotechnologische Studentinitiative e.V. (BtS), Germany: Holger Nickel
  • Technical University of Lódz, Student Association “Ferment” and ASSB, Poland: Sylwia Gorlach
  • Genomic Network of Young Scientists (GeNeYouS), The Netherlands: Terry Vrijenhoek

The BIOPOP team

Maddalena Adorno (I), Francesco Alviano (I), Marta Annunziata (I), Eva Asscher (NL), Emanuele Azzoni (I), Lucia Baldazzi (I), Chiara Bartolacelli (I), Said Basmagi (NL), Alice Belletti (I), Oriana Bertoia (I), Maurizio Bettiga (I), Denis Bilotta (I), Mauro Bonacini (I), Mark Bos (NL), Simon Braun (F), Laura Camanzi (I), Amelie Chaboureau (F), Andrea Chiavelli (I), Chiara Cipollina (I), Martina Cortimiglia (I), Adalberto Costessi (I), Michele Cucchi (I), Sabrina Dardano (I), Laura Dato (I), Marika De Acetis (I), Marco De Cecco (I), Davide Degli Esposti (I), Roos de Jonge (NL), Alwin Derijck (NL), Cindy Dieteren (NL), Monika Drabarek (PL), Davide Ederle (I), Eva-Maria Engelhardt (F), Valentina Fossati (I), Ellen Freunscht (D), Ester Frische (NL), Anna Gajos (PL), Simon Garcia (I), Federico Giorgi (I), Sylwia Gorlach (PL), Ilse Gosens (NL), Joost Groot (NL), Diana Harris (NL), Stephanie Häuselmann (F), Carmela Iosco (I), Kaja Kantorska (PL), Debra Keller (F), Thomas Kellermann (D), Anne Kienhuis (NL), Adriana Klyszejko (PL), Daniel Kok (NL), Anne Kozijn (NL), Leonardo Lauciello (I), Francesco Lescai (I), Eryn Liem (NL), Max Haring (NL), David Lutje Hulsik (NL), Simone Maccaferri (I), Karim Majzoub (F), Valeria Mapelli (I), Anastasyia Masharina (F), Marta Mattotti (I), Andrea Michel (D), Ernst Metzner (D), Laura Mezzanotte (I), Francesco Napoletano (I), Tabea Neidhardt (D), Holger Nickel (D), Maartje Nielsen (NL), Manuela Ortlepp (F), Matias Pasquali (I), Maurizio Pellegrino (I), Marco Quarta (I), Francesca Ricci (I), Anneke Rijpkema (NL), Carol Roa Engel  (NL), Heike Sandler (F), Aleksandra Schmidt (PL), Benedikt Schöpke (D), Angela Simone (I), Maurice Stassen (NL), Tabea Sturmheit (D), Andrea Thiele (NL), Jorrit Tjeertjes (NL), Karolina Tkaczuk (PL), Karolina Treppa (PL), Bregje van Groningnen (NL), Joost van den Brink (NL), Paula van den Brink (NL), Martijn van der Werff (NL), Leonie van Dijk (NL), Joost van Duuren (NL), Marc van Mil (NL), Wendy van Veelen (NL), Lisenka Vissers (NL), Terry Vrijenhoek (NL), Eliza Zawadzka (PL).

Biopop was financially supported by the European Commission under the FP6, Life Learning Centre Network (Italy) and Marino Golinelli Foundation (Italy).

The consortium linked together a consistent number of national organisations of young biotechnologists and biotech students of important member and candidate countries of the European Union. The group has established relationships in promoting the access of young scientists to European collaborators. The participants were already largely experienced in communicational activities both at a national scale and in European scenario, where they demonstrated the ability to collaborate and mobilize a notable mass of young people, and were active and motivated in engaging fruitful dialogue with all kinds of stakeholders. The organisations, on a smaller scale and with different approaches, organised local meetings concerned with public communication of science successfully involving national institutions and media. Some of the participant’s partners successfully organised international meetings with the presence of representatives of the most important European organisations and of the EU Commission. For these reasons, even being young people, they fruitfully combined their complementary experiences in management of public events, involvement of media and institutions, and dissemination of the activities’ results at a European level.

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