Soapbox Science

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In June 2017, P2i were glad to support Soapbox Art & Science Oxford. The event format is modeled on London Hyde Park’s speakers’ Corner, which aims to encourage public learning and scientific public outreach. Everybody has the opportunity to enjoy, learn, heckle, question, probe, interact and be inspired from some of the leading scientists. You can read CTO and Founder Dr. Stephen Coulson’s interview with Soapbox and our sponsorship of the event.

Stephen, what is your background and how did you come to found P2i?
I’m a chemist by training and after completing a Ph.D. at Durham University, I took up a position with my sponsor, Dstl, to complete the application for military use. As it is a very visual technology, with water beading up and rolling off any surface, it was easy to engage Venture Capital interest and we finally spun out P2i at the end of January 2004.

What attracted you to Soapbox Science?
I like the informal and interactive approach that is being taken that makes it highly accessible for all.

Why is it important for researchers and companies to make their work accessible to the public?
There is so much going on in the world where certain areas are often carried out behind closed doors and don’t have a loud enough voice. Soapbox Science will help increase awareness of what can be achieved by better understanding the world we live in.

P2i has expanded globally, as has Soapbox Science! If you could bring Soapbox Science to one city or region where you work, where would it be and why?
Although not a specific location, I think initially it needs to take place in regions where they have the infrastructure in place to convert the interest generated by Soapbox Science into increased intake of women into STEM subjects. From this platform, there will be an argument for more infrastructure to be created in regions of lower employment with the correct demographic to drive further intake and future employment.

The Oxford event will see art mix together with science, does P2i work in any cross-disciplinary ways and could you describe the value in reaching out to other sectors?
Cross-fertilization of ideas is the main source of innovation so is a necessity that we have followed from day one.

And finally, if you were stood on a Soapbox telling people about your work, what is the one thing you would hope they would take away with them?
Science can make the impossible come true to better people’s lives, and anyone can do it.