Staff at the International Centre for Life, Newcastle are celebrating after picking up a top industry award, the Leading Edge Award for Business Practice, from the Association of Science and Technology Centres, (ASTC)*, the global body representing science centres worldwide.

The Roy L. Shafer** Leading Edge Awards (or Edgies as they are more commonly known), are the Oscar equivalents for the science centre industry and presented annually in recognition of extraordinary accomplishments that not only enhance the performance of their own institutions but also significantly advance the mission of science-technology centres and museums worldwide. 

Life was the only European science centre to win an award.  It was handed the Leading Edge Award for Business Practice after demonstrating its commitment to applying best practice and achieving business efficiency as well as embodying the ASTC values of collaboration, forward-looking leadership and creativity.  The international  judging panel praised Life’s business model which, it said, had been thought through strategically from the outset.  “It was remarkable that the Centre had operated for a decade without public subsidy”, said the judges, “and  had  never lost sight of its mission to open up minds to science.”

Chief Executive of the International Centre for Life, Linda Conlon accepted the award at the ASTC annual conference which took place in Baltimore, USA and was attended by over 1500 people from science centres globally.

Linda said: “We’re absolutley delighted with this award.  It’s the very best to receive because it is awarded by our peers worldwide.  It’s recognition that our business model and our unique partnership with Newcastle University and the NHS stands out on an international stage.”

In a further boost for the Centre, Linda Conlon, has become the first person from the UK to be appointed Vice-President of ASTC.  Her role will be to look at the global issues affecting science centres and their relevance on a local level.  She will take an active role in promoting the body’s global initiatives including its Youth Inspired Challenge programme, backed by President Obama, which aims to expand the impact of science centres and museums to help young people excel in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

Speaking about her new role Linda commented: “It’s an honour to have been elected Vice President.  I’m very keen to help ASTC reinforce what it does, both here in the UK and on a global stage, on the valuable role that science centres play in their community.  Science centres are not only places for lifelong learning, they also provide opportunities for the research community to meet with the public; they support schools, and they contribute to the cultural and economic vitality of their local areas.” 


Notes to Editors:

*About ASTC

ASTC promotes collaboration between museums and science centres through partnerships and international networks to enable the development of new and innovative ways of engaging the public in science activities and further the understanding of important scientific issues. It also sets standards of best practice allowing organisations large and small, to ensure they are delivering quality programmes for their audiences.

Founded in 1973, ASTC now numbers nearly 600 members in 45 countries including Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Hong Kong Science Centre and the Discovery Centre in Canada. Members not only include science centres and museums, but a wide range of organisations that share an interest in informal science education.  ASTC estimates that there were 89.6 million visits to member science centers and museums worldwide last year.

**About Roy L. Shafer

Roy’s science centre career began in the 1960s, when he first volunteered at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio. He soon became an important figure at the museum, founding its camp-in program and eventually serving for 13 years as COSI’s president and CEO. Roy was a member of the ASTC Board of Directors for 11 years, including two years as president. After he started his own consulting firm, the Roy L. Shafer Company, he became ASTC’s organizational coach, helping the association to develop its mission, strategic plan, and core values and objectives. ASTC honored him in 1999 with the ASTC Fellow Award for Outstanding Contribution. After his death, the ASTC Board of Directors named the Leading Edge Awards for Roy in tribute to his progressive thinking, dynamic leadership, and devotion to our profession.

About the International Centre for Life

The Centre for Life is a pioneering science village based in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne where scientists, clinicians, educationalists and business people come together to promote advancement of the life sciences.  Now established as one of the most successful of the country’s 14 landmark Millennium projects, Life is an independent and self-funding charitable trust with a robust business plan that eliminates reliance on public funding for its operating costs.  Over 500 people from 34 countries work on site with nearly half a million people a year accessing its services.

Life’s mission is to be the best place in the UK for enthusing and engaging everyone in science and to provide support and state-of-the-art facilities on site so that world class scientific research in medicine can flourish. Over the past decade, teams based at the Centre for Life, working for our partners, Newcastle University and The Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have earned worldwide headlines for advances in stem cell technology.

Media Contact:  Nicola McIntosh or Vicky Pepys at Centre for Life.  Tel: (0191) 2438209  Email: [email protected] or [email protected]   Mobile:  07941801552