Trieste has been nominated European City of Science 2020.

Trieste boasts a long tradition as a dynamic hub for research, science and innovation, focused on sustainable growth and development, with an impact that extends beyond Italy to the rest of Europe and the developing world. It is internationally renowned for the high concentration of scientific institutions. The city hosts overall more than 30 national and international centres and companies working in research and higher education, 5000 permanent foreign scientists and some 13000 students and researchers.

For the first time in its history, ESOF reached beyond the national borders of its host country. As a Central European city, Trieste was committed to strengthening the links with Central and Eastern European scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers and citizens, thus making a crucial step towards a truly open and inclusive Europe.

The ESOF 2020 conference was held in the extraordinary area of the Old Port (Porto Vecchio), which had been for decades the commercial port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and is now an outstanding architectural and industrial heritage site that the Trieste Municipality is redeveloping and requalifying.


  • ESOF2020 Trieste generally aims to:
  • PROMOTE science, technology and innovation as key drivers of a sustainable and responsible development that is people-centered;
  • STIMULATE discussions concerning science, its applications and impact, including ethical issues;
  • ESTABLISH a platform where the dialogue between research institutions, academies and governments is fostered.

ESOF2020 Trieste had also more specific goals:

  • TO STRENGTHEN a scientific and technological network among the Central Eastern European countries, the existing Trieste Science System and the rest of Europe.
  • TO INTEGRATE AND CONNECT this network within the Mediterranean, North Africa and Central Asia;
  • TO CREATE a museum dedicated to Science and Technology and its dissemination.

The mission of Trieste as City of Science continued after ESOF, through the creation of a science center, The North Adriatic Science and Technology Centre, and an independent, multidisciplinary, non-profit Summer Institute aimed at fostering dialogue among scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers and citizens, involving stakeholders from Central-Eastern Europe and the Balkans.


The city’s natural spirit of openness and inclusiveness was expressed in the motto that Trieste had chosen for ESOF2020: “Freedom for science, science for freedom”.

FREEDOM FOR SCIENCE refers to the open-ended and unresolved questions that science is facing, with method and curiosity, without restrictions of credo or prejudices.

SCIENCE FOR FREEDOM, on the other hand, refers to the inclusiveness of science and its language, which goes beyond borders and conflicts and brings together people of any colour and gender.

The ESOF 2020 programme was carefully selected by leading individuals in science teaching and research, business and innovation, and communication.
The Steering Committee supervised the overall preparations for ESOF 2020. They were responsible for making strategic decisions about the conference as well as managing and monitoring the event.


18 themes spread in 3 tracks to cover a wide spectrum of current issues at the interface between science, industry and society.

The concepts of sustainability and innovation permeated the three tracks of the programme, with the aim of fostering discussion on how innovation can be made sustainable as well as how innovation could help boost sustainability in a variaty of fields and processes.

Alongside the main programme a rich offer of plenaries, keynote sessions, workshops and special events placed the spotlight on these issues, central to the 2020 edition of ESOF.

Within this mindset, the main questions the programme sought to address are:


There were nine major themes running through the ESOF2020 Science Programme, spanning from quantum computing to climate change, science policy to high energy physics, from precision medicine to gender and social inequalities in science. The nine themes were :


The Science to Business programme aimed at fostering interaction between the worlds of public and private R&D, as well as public institutions and private enterprise.

This heterogeneous group included everyone from CEOs, CTOs, entrepreneurs, applied and industrial scientists, academia and public research institutions, IP managers and organizations, corporate R&D communications, HR and careers managers, technology parks, regional/European innovation authorities, science to business students, technology transfer organizations, business angels, venture groups, trade associations, incubators, banking institutions.

More than ever, it was of fundamental importance that efficient and mutual knowledge, expertise and technology transfer between these actors was in place, in order to not only ensure innovation, but to make sure that innovation is sustainable.

The creation of collaborative relationships between all stakeholders involved, from academia to private enterprise and policy makers was essential to ensure sustainability across all domains, economic, environmental and social, so that no one was left behind.

TRIESTE Experience video


The Careers Programme provided opportunities for everyone involved in scientific disciplines, from researchers to representatives from industry, training and educational institutes, science journalists to policy makers to engage with one another to discuss issues and ideas related to researchers either at their early stage or at stage of transition later on in their career.

With economic, social and environmental challenges facing Europe and the new mission-oriented Horizon Europe framework around the corner, providing a strong sense of direction to guide younger generations was a priority, in order to make it easier to develop relevant skillsets which could promote personal and professional growth. To reach this objective, a concerted effort by policy makers, business actors and educational institutions was of paramount importance.

To achieve this, the ESOF 2020 Science and Science to Business Programme Committees created a Career Programme, to explore how career opportunities are evolving, as well as the effect that this evolution will have on both the education system and the job market.

ESOF 2020 as hybrid event

All the participants in the conference received codes to enter streaming contents of the conference.

All the sessions (physical, hybrid and virtual ones) were live streamed on the dedicated platform.

All the accesses were sent by email before the Opening of the Conference.


  • All sessions
  • Live streaming of Opening and Closing Ceremonies
  • Updated program
  • The virtual exhibition area with the possibility to schedule direct appointments with the exhibitors
  • The virtual agorà of the conference



One of the latest news of ESOF2020 edition was the virtual exhibition area which will host about 20 booths.

By using “Meet the Sponsor”, it was possible to schedule appointments with the partners and discuss about the projects displayed in the booths.


The Virtual Agorà was an informal place where to talk right in a virtual room which was active during lunch time.

In this virtual square, partners introduced themselves with short pitches on the following topics: Business meets Science/Careers / Covid and Post-Covid. Participants will have the chance to discuss in an open debate.

ESOF2020 Champion

Stefano Fantoni

ESOF2020 Champion
Chair of the Steering Committee

In 2022, the city of Leiden in the Netherlands will be hosting the 10th edition of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) and the European City of Science.