BRINGING SCIENCE ON STAGE: A sneak peek behind the scenes of the recent Technology & Trends live event
The goal was certainly ambitious, “building new bridges between scientific research and the world of business”, in other words trying to find new, more effective ways of stimulating technology transfer, whereby industry translates the work of scientists into products and services for the benefit of mankind at large (See “Science Talks to Business” insight). Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly to those acquainted with the Studio’s eclectic and multifaceted competencies, it was “mission accomplished”!
Birth of a multimedia experience
For this event, Studio Volpi decided to start from a clean slate, re-thinking the paradigms of scientific communication and finding a common ground between the audience and the presenters on stage. The format created for the Technology & Trends conference deliberately aimed at stimulating the imagination and creative entrepreneurship of the audience. The Studio defined a precise running order for the show, and fielded a 12-strong multidisciplinary production team, which managed both the physical and the digital event.
Every detail of the conference was planned, scripted and carefully mapped out, lest for the scientists’ presentations, which were left entirely to them as far as content was concerned. The result was a true and intense multimedia experience that shed a new light on the extraordinary work of the scientists in Genova, creating opportunities for its potential to be fully expressed.
How to reconcile science and the layman
A “science made simple” mood might have felt like the right approach, and the one generally used in such bouts, but also one that would have inevitably ended up deceiving both science and industry: too sketchy for the scientist, boring and irrelevant for the industry. Excessive simplification betrays scientific accuracy, while excessive accuracy betrays comprehension.
The virtues of conciseness
The Studio opted for a third way, certainly not an easy one, but that was to prove its worth: putting on an impeccable show, bringing science on stage but letting scientists explain their work in their own words and on their own terms, yet with precise time constraints for the show to run smoothly, keeping the audience captivated and entertained. Having to “make it shorter”, but not simpler, they also made it more accessible yet academically sound.
Still, the in-built difficulty of scientific dissemination is that audiences generally don’t speak the same language as scientists. In this case the Studio made an effort in reducing the semantic distance between the two by building into the format some very special introductions to the single sections by guest contributors. All in all, four guest speakers, one for each of the four “pillars” making up the backbone of the conference, and 8 presenting scientists.
Finding a common ground
Inspiring, visionary and authoritative, the four special guest speakers provided some solid signposting and background to the subjects treated by the scientists, opening up new horizons and broadening the context well beyond the scientific dimension. A language business people know well, and are quite responsive to. These video contributions constituted the common ground between the laboratory and the factory, the “stargate” to connect the two worlds, with the added advantage of leaving the presenters free to express themselves without having to compromise on scientific standards.
Incidentally, one of the guest speakers was iCub, IIT’s humanoid robot, currently one of the most advanced experimental robotic platforms in the world, whose address was scripted by the Studio.
The format also included a video “cover” for each of the four sections, in addition to the introductions by the VIP guests. These were produced and edited by Studio Volpi and provided further contextualisation while also illustrating the daily work of the Institute.
Raising the bar and going for phygital
If that wasn’t difficult enough, it was decided to open up the conference to remote, digital audiences and turn it into a live streaming event. So there were actually two events in one, to be managed separately but simultaneously. The event had thus to cater for a physical audience at the location, plus a digital one connected through a live streaming platform.
Hundreds captivated by science for nearly 3 hours
The result was unprecedented, with literally hundreds of viewers riveted to their screens for nearly three hours, and the live audience in Genova mesmerised by the show. Contacts were established following the conference, and talks are currently underway between IIT and industry representatives. And if we might not see a robot octopus arm, like the one starring in one of the presentations, on the market soon, we might all benefit, and in more ways than we can think of, from the technology advances behind it.