Introductory paragraph

FameLab® is an international science communication and public speaking competition that promotes science and technology by creating a platform for young scientists to find their voices and reach public audiences. Within the context of government’s commitment to science engagement through the Department of Science and Technology’s Science Engagement Framework, FameLab speaks to key strategic aims in developing science communication and promoting and popularising science for public audiences.

Who is the Competition Coordinator

FameLab® is an initiative of Cheltenham Science Festival, United Kingdom. The British Council, in collaboration with the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) and Jive Media Africa, coordinate the FameLab competition in South Africa.

Why should I participate

The purpose of FameLab is to provide a platform for scientists and researchers to nurture their public speaking skills, especially researchers from historically disadvantaged communities who lack opportunities for public engagement to develop these skills. Participants benefit by enhancing their communication and presentation skills through competition and training; being part of multi-disciplinary science discussions by networking with other scientists from diverse disciplines in South Africa and internationally; and being part of the growing community of passionate scientists on an international scale. In addition, partner organisations benefit by identifying and nurturing science communication talent; building capacity for science engagement and professional communication within their organisations; and profiling their work in scientific development and innovation.

Whom we target

Young scientists aged 21 to 35, studying or working at a South African institution in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or innovation. In addition, other institutions, science councils, science/engineering associations or organisations are invited to host their own heat.

What are the entry requirements

Direct entries or video entries by young scientists aged between 21 and 35, working or studying in the fields of science, engineering, and technology. Entry registration forms and competition rules can be downloaded from

How does it work

FameLab contestants are required to give a 3-minute talk, with the aid of props, which is engaging and entertaining for a public audience. Contestants are judged on content, clarity, and charisma. Pre-qualification rounds or heats are coordinated internally by host organisations, or open heats, which are open to all that meet the eligibility criteria. Prior to the heats, a science communication workshop is held to assist participants in developing skills in preparation of these heats. During a heat, a judging panel determines who will move on to the next round. Qualifying contestants from both the institutional and public heats progress through to Masterclass training that is facilitated by a FameLab- accredited trainer. Once completed, these participants compete in the national semi-finals and then the finals. Finally, the overall winner of FameLab South Africa then progresses to the international finals hosted in the United Kingdom.

What will it cost

Free entry to all participants.

What am I awarded

In addition to a cash prize of R5,000, the winner of FameLab SA wins an all-expenses paid trip to the UK to participate in the international finals. Two runners-up are awarded a cash prize of R2500 and 20 semi-finalists received book vouchers to the value of R500 each. As an added benefit, all participants can develop their science communication skills through workshops that are hosted at various stages of the FameLab competition implementation.

Competition timelines

Heats run from July to March the following year. The Masterclass and semi-finals are hosted in March; the national finals between April and May; and the international finals are hosted at the beginning of June each year.


Ms. Lithakazi Masilela
Call +27 (0)12 392 9352