FameLab is an exciting competition aimed at discovering talented science communicators.

It is one of the biggest science communication competitions in the world.

You know when you are watching a science story on the news, and the presenter turns to an expert and asks, “What does it mean? What does it do?”.

That expert could be you!

Effective science communication which engages people outside the scientific community allows scientists:

  • to alter stereotypes
  • to enthuse people about their work and science in general, and 
  • to justify their use of public funding.

What are you waiting for?

Enter the competition

Are you working or studying in science and engineering?

If you are aged over 18 and think you can explain a scientific concept in just three minutes, you could win some fantastic prizes.

To enter, send us a video.

This will be you, live, explaining a scientific concept, in just three minutes. You can decide the topic, but make sure the presentation is less than three minutes.

The quality and format of the video isn’t important - but it must give the jury an idea of what the presentation will be like when you perform it live. You can use props - but only if you can carry them on to the stage with you. No PowerPoint allowed!

The Heats and Finals

The regional heats are the first steps in the FameLab adventure. Dazzling the jury ensures you a place in the following stages of the competition, where you can reach the national final after attending a Communication Masterclass.

The Masterclass (see below), run by some of the best science communicators in the world, is one of the biggest prizes for all FameLab finalists.

In the Finals, you will now be able to beat your fellow competitors and represent your country in the international FameLab finals. These take place in the United Kingdom during the Cheltenham Science Festival, normally in June. 

The overall national winner will attend the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK and compete in the FameLab International Final. Here a world of opportunities will really be opened up as you network with fellow scientists from across the globe

In 2019 all public universities and the Portuguese Catholic University were involved in FameLab, with all but the Universidade Aberta organizing regional heats in close collaboration with local Ciência Viva Centres.

Get a taste of what happens at a FameLab Masterclass


The competition is open to anyone aged over the age of 18 working in or studying technology, engineering, medicine, biology, chemistry, physics or maths. This includes private and public sector employees.

The ability to communicate in English is one of the criteria for selection. During the semi-final and the national final, questions will also be asked in English. 

You must be available to participate in the semi-final, the Master Class and the National Final, and, if you win, the international finals taking place in Cheltenham, UK. Dates to be announced.

We welcome:

  • Lecturers and researchers in science, engineering or mathematics subjects, including specialist science teachers with a science degree
  • People who work on applying science, engineering technology or mathematics (e.g. patent clerks, statisticians, consultants to industry)
  • University students of science, mathematics or engineering over 18
  • People who apply science, mathematics or engineering in the armed forces or government bodies
  • People who apply science, engineering or mathematics in industry or business.

We cannot accept:

  • People who are already working professionally in public engagement with science, including:
  • Press or PR officers, even for science-related organisations
  • Artists who work on science-related themes
  • Performers whose shows are about science or engineering
  • Science centre staff who work exclusively or mainly with the public
  • Journalists and broadcasters (as their main or only job)
  • Non-specialist teachers

If you are unsure about your eligibility, please email: richard.fleming@britishcouncil.org 

The Judges

Judges can come from a range of disciplines and backgrounds including: Science, Science communication, Media as well as representatives from Famelab partners, and former FameLab participants.

FameLab Portugal judges have included: José Vítor Malheiros, António Granado, João Caraça, Carlos Fiolhais, Bárbara Teixeira, and more.

Our Partners

FameLab Portugal is organised in cooperation with our local partners. The FameLab International Final is co-produced by Cheltenham Science Festivals and the British Council.

Ciência Viva
Ciência Viva is a national agency for the promotion of initiatives for the public awareness of Science and Technology in Portugal, whose associate bodies include public institutions and research laboratories.
The Science and Technology Week and Science in the Summer are two of the initiatives for the general public that have been running since 1997.
Science for Young People in the Holidays, a programme that invites secondary school students to be part of research teams in laboratories all over the country, is another initiative that started in 1997.
Ciência Viva has extensive experience in establishing partnerships with researchers in initiatives aiming at improving science education in elementary and secondary education schools.
Ciência Viva is responsible for the creation of a national network of 20 interactive Science Centres, all of them operating in close collaboration with universities and local authorities.

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
Established in 1956 as a Portuguese foundation for the whole of humanity, the Foundation’s original purpose focused on fostering knowledge and raising the quality of life of persons throughout the fields of the arts, charity, science and education. Bequeathed by the last will and testament of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, the Foundation is of perpetual duration and undertakes its activities structured around its headquarters in Lisbon (Portugal) and its delegations in Paris (France) and London (the United Kingdom).

Cheltenham Festivals
Cheltenham Festivals is FameLab's international partner. Cheltenham Festivals is the charitable organisation behind the town’s internationally acclaimed Jazz, Science, Music and Literature Festivals. In 2005 they started FameLab.

National Geographic
National Geographic Partners (NGP) is a joint venture between 21st Century Fox and the National Geographic Society and encompasses all of our media and commercial properties: the Channel, the Magazines, books, maps, kids business, travel business, social, digital, web, consumer products and global licensing.
NGP combines a well known and beloved brand to consumers in every corner of the world, with 21CF global scale and distribution to reinvigorate this powerful brand and transform our storytelling in all its forms, from an analog legacy to a digital forward world. 27% of all of our proceeds go back to the nonprofit National Geographic Society, to support their work in science, conservation and exploration.  

Become a Partner!

FameLab has a wide variety of national partners, without which the competition would not be possible.

By partnering with and supporting FameLab you will join a leading line up of organisations and individuals who appreciate and value the work that Famelab does and its influence across a wide area of science communication.

Partnering with FameLab means:

  • Access to a fantastic ‘alumni’ of some of the best young communicators in the country
  • Helping to make sure that science and engineering are promoted at the grassroots level
  • Contributing to the development of young talent
  • Leading the way for organisations and companies to recognise the value of public engagement

If you are interested in becoming associated with this exciting and world leading programme to identify, train and mentor tomorrow's science and engineering communicators, then please contact us.

History of FameLab


Since its birth at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival in 2005 FameLab has grown into the world leading science communication competition.

The partnership with the British Council, begun in 2007, has seen the competition go global, with more than 5000 young scientists and engineers participating in over 25 different countries.


The UK is a centre of excellence for science communication and recognises that science accessibility to a non-scientific audience is an ever-growing priority for researchers worldwide.

Each year the FameLab International final is held at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK. National winners from across the globe flock to the festival to prove their science communication prowess, engage with other enthusiastic science communicators, and to learn from UK experts in the field.

Judges’ top tips

The judges are looking for somebody who can shine in content, clarity and charisma.

The content of the presentations must be scientifically accurate. If the topic chosen has controversy or uncertainty around it, then the presentation must acknowledge the opposing views. The scientific topic presented should be well chosen to suit the audience.

Clarity is critical for effective science communication. The structure of the presentation must enable the audience and judges to easily follow the talk and they should be left with a full understanding of the scientific concept chosen.

The audience and judges should be left inspired and enthused about science. The winner will be a charismatic presenter who makes the science easy to listen to, entertaining, exciting and who is not only able to communicate the science but who can share their passion for it.

Top 10 tips

  1. Think about the beginning and the end - Hook us at the start, and then give us a satisfying ending that leaves us feeling we’ve had a complete journey (it’s nice if it brings the beginning back in some way, but that’s not the only way to end).
  2. Don’t try to copy somebody else’s style - Go with what works for you.
  3. Make sure there’s enough science in there - We can learn a lot in three minutes if you tell it well.
  4. Tell us something you’re excited about… - ...your enthusiasm will shine through.
  5. Let go of the PowerPoint safety net - Printing your slides onto a t-shirt or, worse, laminated bits of paper reduces you from 3 to 2 dimensions.
  6. Be in the moment - Acknowledging what’s happening right here, right now (even if it’s something going wrong!) keeps us engaged – and shows you’re confident enough to cope.
  7. Don’t overdo your introduction - You need to set a scene, give us a moment to grasp who you are and lead into your subject, sure. But you need to do all of that quickly! You haven't really started until the introduction is behind you – keep it punchy.
  8. Know where you’re going - However much you've slaved over the individual words of your performance, make sure you know the waymarks too: the bullet-points that keep you on track. There are probably around five of them, and the last one will usually be your last line. If that's fixed in your mind then no matter how many of your carefully-honed lines fall apart, you still know how you're going to finish. So that's one less distraction.
  9. “What will they talk about later?” - What's your piece about? You need to be able to answer that in, say, ten words. Those words need to work when prefixed with "Did you know…" or "I heard this amazing thing today…". Give people memorable nuggets they can use as social currency, it's the best way of spreading ideas around.
  10. Think theatrically - The impact of a prop can be changed by how it's introduced - is it carried on, picked up, or revealed? Similarly, you can trail your finale, tease it, or reveal it from an unexpected direction. There's no right or wrong here, you have to choose what best suits you and your story. But make sure you choose rather than just letting it happen

Past winners:

Previous winners of FameLab Portugal share their experiences


External links