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UCL staff and students to explain how they would change the world

25 September 2012

'Focus on the Positive' will allow UCL staff and students to explain how they would tackle some of the world's biggest issues - and then an audience will pick which ideas will become realities. 

Focus on the Positive logo

At the event, which is to be held on October 30th, researchers and graduate students will tell the audience how they would like to change the world. Once everyone has made their pitch, host and comedian James Acaster will work with the audience to choose a winner, who will be given £2,000 to make their ideas come to life. They might suggest using the money for new research, to start a project or to work with a particular charity. A runner-up will receive £1,000 to take their project forward.

The event provides a great opportunity to debate some big questions, meet people who are passionate about changing the world for the better, and make a difference.

Steve Cross, Head of Public Engagement at UCL, said: “Not only will it be a fun and inspiring night, Focus on the Positive is a radical way of funding research and other university activities. While much of what we do is publicly funded, it’s rare that the public gets to debate and then directly influence it. This is a new way of applying UCL’s research to real-world problems, and I’m excited to see what the audience will decide on the night.”

Get involved

If you're interested in pitching your own ideas at the next Focus on the Positive event, which will take place on January 31st 2013, please email Sarah Chaney -

During the event, UCL researchers will be pitching a range of solutions to real-world problems, including improving radiotherapy in Africa, supporting environmental education in inner-city primary schools, and the way in which public spaces can be created by combining interactive installations with architecture.

The previous event was won by Dr. Hannah Fry, Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics. In the wake of her research into the causes of the London riots in 2011, Hannah suggested a need to raise awareness of the issues affecting young people, in particular through government cuts to youth services. She proposed the making and promoting of a documentary film, which would air the views of young people in the poorest areas of London.

Focus on the Positive will be held at the Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PP (nearest tube Oxford Circus) on October 30th 2012 from 7.30-10pm. Tickets cost £5 (£3 concessions).

Focus on the Positive is organised by UCL's Public Engagement Unit and supported by EPSRC, one of the funding councils that support research in UK universities.

Page last modified on 25 sep 12 13:05

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