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Scientific awareness - Science shops

  • Introduction
  • The Information day on Science Shops planned on 24 October 2005 is cancelled until further notice. For more information on past workshops, please visit our Science shops page.

NEW: the Commission has finalised the contract “TRAMS” (Training and Mentoring of science shops) (PDF – 200 kb)


‘Science shops’ stand at the junction where science meets society. These grassroots research organisations deal with practical scientific problems at the local community level.

Although they cater for the community, science shops are not really 'shops' in the traditional sense of the word. They carry out scientific research in a wide range of disciplines – usually free of charge – on behalf of citizens and local civil society.

Over the past 30 years, science shops have spread across Europe and beyond its shores to the USA, Canada, Israel, and South Africa. The concept began life in the student movement and counter-culture of the early 1970s when a group of Dutch chemistry students decided to put their brains together to help non-profit clients solve scientific problems.

The Commission is helping to bolster the important role of science shops as a medium for improving public access to, and public awareness of, science and technology. This support has taken a variety of forms, including the financing of in-depth studies to find out how best to support these independent research organisations.

Based on the findings of these studies, the Commission recently helped to set up an international network of science shops. Improving Science Shop Networking (ISSNET) strives to integrate local, regional and national structures into a pan-European network that will help bring knowledge to life for ordinary citizens.

Under its Sixth Framework Programme for research, the Commission is currently examining a variety of new ways of strengthening and promoting the role of science shops. In its 2004 work programme, the Commission has decided to finance networking between science shops or equivalent organisations, such as science museums.

To know more, read the brochure Science shops, knowledge for the Community (PDF, 292 Kb)

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