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A chance to transform through science

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

This year is one of tremendous opportunity for Manchester. Designated as the European City of Science 2016, our city will be hosting Europe's greatest scientific gathering, the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF), which takes place from 23-27 July. The eyes of the scientific community across the continent and beyond will be firmly fixed on Manchester during this prestigious week of seminars, workshops, exhibitions and events, with 4,500 delegates, including global scientific and technology leaders, expected to visit.

Hosting this biennial event cements Manchester's position as a world leader in science and technology. Since the Industrial Revolution Manchester has been the birthplace of ideas that have shaped the modern world. Indeed, our University has been the setting for many of the biggest breakthroughs: the first stored-program computer, splitting the atom and giving graphene to the world, to name just a few. Manchester is a natural choice as host of the first-ever ESOF to take place in the UK.

The Forum is of course a European event but it attracts many speakers and participants from across the world; we are working to engage South Africa, India and China in particular. The possibilities this gives the University to build on our strong international reputation are considerable. We will be able to showcase our history, current strengths and emerging opportunities to an international audience. This is crucial as science grows ever more collaborative and we compete in an increasingly global market for the best staff, students and industrial and governmental partnerships.

As co-host with Manchester City Council we will be doing all we can to make this year's event the best yet. The programme is diverse and addresses hot topics from antibiotic resistance to the space race, and will feature many of our own colleagues, including two of our Nobel laureates, Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov. There will be a focus on the revolutionary power of science, and the impact of science on policy, with a number of ministers contributing, and on business, with many great thought-leaders taking part. We will also open our doors to those at the very first stages of their scientific careers, demonstrating the transformational potential of science.

But this year is not just for those who are already working in science. There will also be the Science in the City festival, running from 22-29 July, which promises to bring the city alive with activities exploring how science has an impact on our lives. People of all ages will be able to take part in a packed programme of public engagement.

Throughout 2016 we will be hosting a whole range of public events to inspire more than 100,000 people, particularly local residents and young people. Among the highlights is a programme of climate change events at Manchester Museum, the performance of a robot orchestra built by citizen engineers, and a festival at Jodrell Bank. Many of our staff are working hard to put together an unforgettable events calendar, and we will be collaborating with esteemed partners to make these occasions spectacular, including the Science Museum, London and the Museum of Science and Industry here in Manchester, which will be holding a brand new exhibition all about graphene.

Perhaps one of the most exciting opportunities the University has through ESOF is the chance to create a real scientific legacy for the city, setting many people on a course to match our world-changing achievements. In Manchester we celebrate work that the likes of Rutherford, Stopes, Turing, Geim and Novoselov have carried out in Manchester. I hope we can inspire people this year to reach for similar heights.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell - President and Vice-Chancellor. If you would like to attend ESOF or a related event, get involved, or simply see what is on during an unprecedented year for the city and our University, then visit Details about volunteering opportunities will be published online in April 2016.

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