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The science festival concept comes from
The practical aspect of the regeneration led to the development of the
As part of the rebranding of
It was a visionary idea. Science events at the time were seen as something for scientists and enthusiasts to attend, something for the rest of society to avoid, or at best go to out of a sense of duty.
Ian believed there had to be a seismic shift, to make them a treat for all the family – with a zest and a sparkle that you would expect from an arts festival, or indeed a good football match.
Few people in Edinburgh or anywhere else believed that such a thing would be possible. But Ian put forward the vision with determination and several key organisations backed it. An organisational structure was set up and Howie Firth, a scientist with many years experience of the media and of event organisation, was given the task of putting the idea into practice.
Under the subsequent direction of first Brian Gamble and then Simon Gage, Edinburgh Science Festival has been developed into a world-class event, whose international recognition fully confirms Ian Wall’s vision.
Ian recently retired, with many achievements that have changed the lives of people and communities for the better, including the redevelopment of Wester Hailes town centre and the Craigmillar regeneration programme. The Edinburgh Park has been described by the British Council of Offices as 'one of the best business parks in Europe'.
And of all his successes, the science festival concept is the one closest to his heart.
'If I have to identify one thing that I’m particularly pleased with, it’s the Edinburgh International Science Festival,' he says. 'It’s now a world wide social movement. We invented something that nobody had thought up before, and so successful has the idea been that there isn’t a continent in the world that doesn’t have science festivals now.'
Different countries have taken up the idea in different ways, and there is a rich variety of events and venues. Often directors are scientists, but not always, and one of the finest science festivals is in Gothenberg in
Amongst the first countries to take up the science festival idea was
EUSCEA was formed to exchange ideas and experiences across borders, and is recognised as the European organisation for Science Events. It has 85 members, from 34 different countries. The Highland Science Festival is one of EUSCEA's