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Major funding boost for Life

Image credit: Sara Gibbeson Illustration
The International Centre for Life in Newcastle has received a major funding boost of £2.6 million from the Inspiring Science Fund, a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Wellcome, one of the largest biomedical charities in the world.
The money will be used to create new exhibitions and a programme of science engagement initiatives with community groups in the region, in a project called Creative Explorations
Linda Conlon, Chief Executive of Life said: “This is great news and will help us to continue delivering superb exhibitions on such topics as space exploration. We are very proud of our entrepreneurial business model, which operates without public subsidy. But this award means that we can invest in major capital renewal – it will represent a really exciting and innovative next chapter in the story of Life.”
In total, £13m of funding has been awarded to five UK science centres, including the International Centre for Life. The other centres to receive funding from the Inspiring Science Fund are At-Bristol, Aberdeen Science Centre, Thinktank (Birmingham) and W5 (Belfast).
Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “Exhibitions are often our first experience of science and have a vital role in bringing the subject to life to encourage more young people to embrace science and engineering careers.
“This fund will provide vital support to help centres across the UK attract a new audience, supporting our Industrial Strategy to increase the diversity in the science sector and ensure we have the technical skills for the future.”
Simon Chaplin, Director of Culture and Society at Wellcome, said: “Wellcome believes that everyone should have the opportunity to explore, debate and shape research. Science centres across the UK provide welcoming spaces that ignite curiosity and enable visitors to explore the role of science in culture. We are delighted to be supporting the creation of exciting and inclusive new science experiences as well as helping to sustain these science centres for the future.”
The fund aims to support centres to better understand the needs of under-served and under-represented audiences, and deliver STEM learning that is accessible and enticing for all.
Life’s Creative Explorations project comprises a new space-themed exhibition and a maker space, designed to be both attractive and inclusive, that can be displayed in the science centre and at community venues and events in North East England. Alongside this, Life will run a more targeted community programme to trial three different modes of engagement: an exhibition advisory group of teenagers with autism spectrum disorders (in partnership with North East Autism Society), programmes for young people in the care system (in partnership with Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues consortium) and contributing to the foundation of a new Children’s Community in the west of Newcastle (in partnership with the West End Schools Trust).

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