To celebrate the partnership with the Malaysian Industry-Government Group For High Technology (MIGHT), British Council examines the legacy, impact and achievements of FameLab Malaysia towards the wider Malaysian science and research community.
How it began
FameLab is the longest running science communication competition in the world with a global alumni of over 10,000 science communicators. In 2015, FameLab Malaysia began as part of a collaboration between British Council Malaysia and Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) funded by the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund programmes to recognise the importance for scientists and researchers in communicating their scientific knowledge, concepts and researches to the general public.
Measuring its impact
Since its inception, FameLab Malaysia has attracted over 400 applicants and reached out to over 4,000 Malaysians over 7 years including general public, university students, academics, scientists and researchers in the public and private sector.
A successful event every year, FameLab Malaysia receives sponsorship and in-kind contributions by more than 20 Malaysian organisations including government ministries, universities and industries.
“To me, Famelab is science and personality combined. Joining FameLab made me realise that your personality is also a tool that could potentially communicate science more effectively and inspire others too. Be part of this journey and you will never see science communication the same way again,” says Atteleth Don Peris, FameLab Malaysia Champion 2020.
Besides engaging with Malaysians through finals, heats and associated events like university outreach activities, training, workshops and online webinars, FameLab Malaysia also engages Malaysians through its social media channels, with the FameLab Malaysia portal reaching 20,000 hits in 2021.
Putting Malaysia on the science communication world map
Now in its 8th year, FameLab Malaysia has many proud achievements and milestones to celebrate. The biggest achievement being that Malaysia is the only country that has twice won the “World’s Best Science Communicator” title in FameLab International.
In 2016, FameLab Malaysia National Champion, Prof. Dr. Abhi Veerakumarasivam became the FameLab International Champion defeating national winners from 27 different countries. He was the first FameLab International Champion for Malaysia and for the Asian region.
In 2018, Dr. Siti Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafiah, a Biological Science lecturer became the first female winner in Malaysia that was crowned the 2018 FameLab International Champion. FameLab Malaysia has produced a total of 77 FameLab finalists who were trained by UK science journalist, Quentin Cooper and Dallas Campbell, broadcasters for science programs with BBC and National Geographic. The finalists were groomed to engage the public with their science stories through a series of competitions.
Yen Sim Kuek, Head, Newton Fund and Science from British Council Malaysia said, “Besides equipping the FameLab finalists with science communication skills, the finalists were given international exposure and opportunities to build their national and international network for future research collaborations and exchange of knowledge and practices, as well as continuing their science communication journey by providing education and training to their peers, presenting and performing in other events and pitching their ideas to funders and businesses.”
In partnership with Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), 2021 was the seventh and final year of the FameLab Malaysia competition delivered by the British Council. The British Council will celebrate the partnership and achievements in April and May 2022 to draw this successful partnership to a close, handing over FameLab Malaysia to MIGHT. MIGHT will continue to run FameLab Malaysia together with Cheltenham Festivals, the creator of FameLab in the UK.
Datuk Dr. Mohd. Yusoff Sulaiman, President and Chief Executive Officer, MIGHT “FameLab creates young ambassador of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM). For the past 7 years, MIGHT and British Council have been working in partnership in creating impact on science communication. We triumph in what initially started as mainstreaming STEM in a creative and fun manner to creating a strong brand for FameLab Malaysia. We need to produce more science communicators and FameLab alumni can help us achieve this. We inspire to build a stronger platfrom for FameLab and encourages more government, industry player, academia and the media to be part of this opportunities to strengthen science communication programmes and inititatives”.