Where will our new thought leaders come from? What are we doing to improve science communication to a wider audience and breakdown some of the barriers perceived by the community at large?

I remember as a child receiving my first chemistry set and thinking, “I want to be a scientist when I grow up”. My parents must have been watching an episode of “Tomorrows World” on TV and thinking, we want our kids to be the next James Burke because my sister received a crystal growing kit at the same time and funnily enough we both went on to study Chemistry at University. Now I'm not saying that by acquiring these gifts at such an early age had a life changing effect on the two of us, but it does make you stop and think, for just a second…

Science plays a fundamental part in all our lives but is still not universally reported or commented on as other events in our lives. We need to find tools to flag and reward great achievements and to bring the mysteries surrounding science out in to the open and encourage lively debate and experiment.

The Science City programme is an initiative already making a difference in this respect. Originally announced by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown, five cities up and down the UK where identified as regions with potential based on a number of factors to build centres of excellence and develop business and academic collaboration as well as education and the visibility of science in our communities.

“To lead these developments of a deeper and more widespread engagement between businesses and our core science base”, are the cities: Newcastle, York, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, and Bristol. These cities along with other regions bring a unique blend of community spirit, industry, and a shared ambition to put science and technology at the heart of our minds for many years to come.

Birmingham's Science City has identified a number of core areas of interest, these include advanced materials, digital media, energy, medical technology and healthcare and transport technologies, within each of these areas there are many projects already in development and collaboration with industry, universities, conference organizers and museums to name but a few partners.

These initiatives and projects are here for the long term and I hope will touch all our lives in some way over the coming years: Perhaps by finding new sustainable energy sources to power our lives, or diagnosing and curing once fatal diseases or by simply making us ask “why?” from an early age.

For further information please visit www.birminghamsciencecity.co.uk

Read full text on ScienceDirect

DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(10)70066-3