Science & Enterprise subscription

Please share Science & Enterprise

Follow by Email
Visit Us

Donate to our blog

Your support will help Science & Enterprise continue to provide science news for business people and business news for scientists.

The Science Of Property Investment

– Contributed content –

24 April 2017. If you want to make money from property it pays to approach it with a scientific mind. It’s not just pot luck to turn a buck – you can use science to measure and predict risk financial success like in any other business.

House made of money


Research and statistical analysis has just as much place in real estate as it does in the sciences. If you love to pour over risks assessments and value indicators then read on because property success is all in the numbers.

Like all good risk assessments and predictions the only way to analyze your potential property investment is to look at the raw data. Property is all about location and that is a good place to start pulling your statistical evidence. There are several geographical factors you will want to consider and measure before making your informed investment decision. These include:

  • Type of property available – You will need to know the mix of the housing stock in a given area to understand your investment options. Look at the number of rooms, the age of the buildings, the size and layout of the homes available, whether there are facilities such as a garden or parking or whether it is a managed building compared to a single property. You could even look at the mix of construction materials if it differs from traditional brick construction – these are just some of the questions you can ask of your data to give you an understanding not just of the property available but also the value potential and the types of people that might want to live in the area.
  • Client demographic – Once you know the type of property stock you can start to get a feel for the people that might be attracted to an area. This then gives you another set of data to analyze as you compare income, spending habits and the lifestyle required to attract that clientele.
  • Area facilities – What facilities an area has to offer will determine its attractiveness and the potential value of a property there. To what extent depends on what you have found through your study of the social demographic you wish to attract or that is likely to be attracted to your property. The value of the location of entertainment and leisure activities, good healthcare, education and transport services can all be measured by comparing the real estate market of areas with these facilities to areas that do not have them.
  • Recent population growth – This is another key piece of information as it suggests an historic growth in popularity which can be determined and extrapolated to understand how this might increase in the future. An area growing in demand is likely to be a good investment opportunity.
  • Number of current and previous vacancies and the speed in which property changes hands in the area – Like population growth, understanding how property changes hands in a given area can be used to predict how your investment might perform on the market.

This data is readily available through your realtor and online and can give you an indication as to a) whether the value of your potential property is likely to increase and therefore make you money b) the attractiveness of your property deal to your potential clients and whether you are going to be able to realize the value you have placed on your property investment.

Investment strategists do this by considering the historic data of both a given area and your target clientele to understand buying habits and predict trends. This data can then be applied to any similar area or even extrapolated to predict multiple investment opportunities.

Once you have an idea about the area and property in which you might place your investment you can consider the financial factors that will impact the amount of return you are likely to see, these include:

  • The volatility of the local real estate market – Like any investment in a certain industry it is advisable to understand how it has performed historically and what legal, economic and political factors might impact it in the future. This could have greater significance to your investment options than any others if the raw data suggests a decline in the local real estate market that isn’t governed by the other trends you have uncovered.
  • The historic risk of leasing or selling in an area or to a certain demographic – Some areas perform better than others when leasing or selling. High worth areas might be likely to attract cash purchases whereas more modest urban settings might favor lease terms. You can also measure the level of return and return period of leasing versus selling and match it to your financial goals.
  • The type of investment term – There are lots of investment opportunities in property and your return can sometimes be impacted by the type of investment you have chosen as much as the house or area in which you have placed it. Consider options such as net-leased investment versus triple net-leased investment properties and research the proven risks and benefits and how well these terms have performed in certain areas and with social demographics.
  • The length of investment – There are long or short-term investment options that carry risks and benefits to both. The longer the investment term the more homework you will need to do to protect it.
  • Acts of god – Another financial risk marker is understanding what other unforeseen circumstances could have a negative impact on your investment. Being unforeseen it is difficult to accurately predict acts of god such as earthquakes or floods but once again you can turn to the historic data to get an idea of the future. If you are choosing to invest in an area at risk then understand what insurances and protection you should have in place to help best protect your money.

You can review all of the data associated with these financial factors and overlay it onto the knowledge already gained from the geographic and demographic studies. This will provide you with a comprehensive risk assessment and strategy that whilst not guaranteed can give you some confidence when placing your money. So making money from property really is more judgement than luck.

*     *     *

Plant-Based Drug Shown to Cure Drug-Resistant Malaria

Artemisia annua

Artemisia annua plant (Kristian Peters, Wikimedia Commons)

24 April 2017. An experimental drug made from dried Artemisia annua plant leaves cured patients in Africa with malaria infections that became resistant to current drugs. Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts describe the drug and their findings in the 14 April issue of the journal Phytomedicine (paid subscription required).

Malaria, according to World Health Organization, affected 212 million people in 2015, which extracts heavy social and economic burdens in developing countries. In 2015, some 429,000 people died from malaria, of which 92 percent were in sub-Sahara Africa. Children under the age of 5 are particularly susceptible to the disease. The disease is caused by infections from the plasmodium parasite transmitted by mosquitoes. In humans, the parasite multiplies in the liver, then infects red blood cells. Symptoms, including headache, fever, and vomiting, occur 10 to 15 days following transmission from a mosquito bite.

The Worcester Tech team led by plant scientist Pamela Weathers is seeking new methods for overcoming a growing resistance to artemisinin, a first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria. The drug works by reducing the parasite load in the blood during the first 3 days of treatment, while companion drugs remove remaining parasites. For a solution, the researchers turned to the source of artemisinin itself, the Artemisia annua plant, used for centuries as an herbal treatment for a range of disorders, and often brewed in tea.

In an earlier study, Weathers and colleagues demonstrated that dried leaves from Artemisia annua plants could deliver 40 times more artemisinin to the blood than conventional drugs that extract chemicals from the plant. Later research show dried Artemisia annua leaves with anti-malarial properties, reducing plasmodium parasite infections and curing lab mice induced with drug-resistant malaria. Another study demonstrates continued efficacy of the dried plant leaves against parasite resistance in as many as 49 later generations of mice.

The new report describes a case at a rural clinic in Democratic Republic of the Congo, where 18 individuals, both children and adults, were not responding to treatments and developing serious symptoms from their advanced cases of malaria because of parasites’ resistance to current drugs. Those conventional treatments included Coartem, an artemisinin combination therapy, and artesunate, an artemisinin product given intravenously for severe cases.

As a last resort, the clinic physicians turned to tablets made from dried Artemisia annua leaves, given to the patients twice a day for 5 days, with the doctors evaluating patients’ symptoms and parasite levels in their blood. All of the individuals, say the researchers, fully recovered as a result of the treatments.

One advantage of dried Artemisia annua leaves is their low cost, and ease of production and distribution. In an e-mail to Science & Enterprise, the university says the tablets used in the study were produced from plants grown in Uganda, with the leaves then dried, pulverized, and purified in facilities meeting pharmaceutical industry Good Manufacturing Practice standards. This supply chain was established by Weathers, who adds, “This simple technology can be owned, operated, and distributed by Africans for Africans.”

The university filed for a patent on the process of deriving anti-parasitic drugs from dried Artemisia annua leaves. In the following video, Weathers and colleagues tell more about and demonstrate this process.

More from Science & Enterprise:

*     *     *

On the Road Again

Route 66 sign

(LSC, Pixabay)

19 April 2017. I’ll be hitting the road again tomorrow for out-of-town meetings that will put Science & Enterprise on hold for the rest of the week. Our regular posts will resume on Monday, 24 April.

In the meantime, check out my new article on Omni Media, which draws material from several Science & Enterprise posts over the past year or so.

*     *     *

Compound Found to Prevent Asthma Inflammation

Child with asthma

(Tradimus, Wikiimedia Commons)

19 April 2017. A research team in Cincinnati discovered a small-molecule drug compound that in lab mice prevents cells in the lungs from becoming inflamed, as occurs in asthma attacks. Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center describe their discovery in yesterday’s issue of the journal Science Signaling.

The Cincinnati Children’s team led by pediatrics professor Vladimir Kalinichenko is seeking better tools for physicians treating children with asthma and allergies affecting the lungs. Asthma is a chronic condition where the airways become inflamed and narrow, causing people to experience wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and coughing for periods of time. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2010 some 7 million children and 18.7 million adults had asthma. Allergies to dust mites and other allergens can cause similar reactions.

Kalinichenko’s lab studies protein signals emitted by cells when they malfunction, which result in diseases of the lungs in children and adults. In this study, the team looked into cell signaling processes causing inflammation and excess mucus production in goblet cells, found on the lining of lung tissue. Goblet cells produce the mucus layer that lubricates and protects the lungs, but in people with some allergies and asthma, these cells become inflamed and secrete excess mucus. Similar reactions occur in people with cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

The researchers explored protein signals that result in goblet cell inflammation, and identified a protein called Forkhead box M1, or FOXM1 responsible for the proliferation of cells that occurs when they become inflamed. With goblet cells, FOXM1 works through other proteins to cause inflammation, and the researchers used this protein as its target. FOXM1, however, is a transcription factor that controls the transformation of genetic codes in DNA to RNA with instructions to cells, a small protein considered difficult to reach in treating disease.

The team called on colleagues at University of Cincinnati Genome Research Center to conduct a high-throughput image screen of its compound library to find potential small-molecule, or low molecular weight, treatments that block or limit FOXM1, particularly in triggering other proteins causing inflammation in goblet cells. Those screens identified a compound code-named RMC-1 that activates proteasomes, protein complexes that break down other proteins into amino acids or peptides. In this case, RMC-1 degrades FOXM1, thus limiting its effects.

In lab tests, the researchers provided RMC-1 to mice induced with asthma, sensitized with dust mite allergens, or given the protein interleukin-13 that provokes inflammation and mucus production in airways. Images of tissue samples show in mice given RMC-1,  FOXM1 was prevented from entering cells lining the lungs and airways, and prevented interleukin-13 from inflaming goblet cells. Mice with RMC-1 also had less sensitivity to dust mite allergens, reduced inflammation, and greater lung function.

The authors say more work is needed to test RMC-1 in higher-order animals, as well as with more types of respiratory diseases, to determine key issues such as dosage and potential toxicity. The researchers also want to reformulate RMC-1 for more efficient delivery, such as with nanoparticles. Cincinnati Children’s technology transfer office applied for a patent on RMC-1.

More from Science & Enterprise:

*     *     *

Vaccine R&D Underway to Protect Against Animal Microbes

Row of cows


18 April 2017. Research is underway in the U.K. on development of new vaccines to protect humans against zoonotic diseases, infectious diseases originating in animals. The lab of molecular biologist Michael Jarvis at University of Plymouth is receiving £408,000 ($US 518,000) from Innovate UK, the government’s science and technology innovation agency, to develop the new vaccines.

Zoonotic diseases are any communicable conditions naturally transferred from animals to humans. World Health Organization says some 200 of these animal-to-human diseases are known and described, and cover infections spread by bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses. Reducing risks from these diseases, says WHO, gets tricky because of the complex interactions between animals and humans, which often require expertise and resources in human and animal health.

Among the more well-known zoonotic diseases are the Ebola virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, Lassa fever, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Zoonotic infections now spread faster than before due to modern travel that easily moves individuals and infections between rural regions where contact with animals is frequent and modern urban societies where animal contact is rare. WHO also notes that climate change is driving deforestation in many regions, bringing urban populations in closer contact with infected animals.

Jarvis and colleagues plan to design a Zoonoses Barrier Vaccine, a new type of vaccine administered to animals, but designed to protect humans. The Plymouth team plans to build its vaccine technology with bovine herpesvirus, an infection in cattle affecting the brain and reproductive organs, which will act as a platform for individual vaccines to create an immune response against similar diseases infecting farm animals.

The researchers expect to begin with vaccines against Rift Valley fever and Q fever. Rift Valley fever is spread with a virus mainly from livestock to humans who come into contact with infected blood or organs. Q fever is spread by bacteria also from sheep, goats, and cattle to humans, particularly individuals working in farming, veterinary medicine, and animal research. The team anticipates engineering an attenuated or weakened pathogen to generate immune responses, but not affect the overall health of the animals.

The Plymouth researchers plan to advance their vaccines through the proof-of-concept phase. In a university statement Jarvis calls the support of Innovate UK, “critical to develop this innovative vaccine platform, in this case for two pathogens that are lethal to both agricultural animals as well as to the vets and farmers that are exposed to infected animals.”

Innovate UK supports research in science and technology with economic growth potential. In addition, the agency says it helps researchers start their own businesses and puts scientists with commercially-viable discoveries together with potential partners.

More from Science & Enterprise:

*     *     *

Nanoparticles Boost T-Cells to Fight Leukemia

Matthias Stephan

Matthias Stephan (Stephan Lab)

18 April 2017. A cancer research lab designed a process to treat leukemia by reprogramming cells in the immune system with genes on nanoscale biodegradable particles. The team from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle describes its discovery and tests with lab mice in yesterday’s issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology (paid subscription required).

Researchers from the lab of Matthais Stephan, and colleagues from University of Washington, are seeking more practical and reliable ways of engineering T-cells from the immune system with chimeric antigen receptors, proteins attracting antibodies that bind to and destroy blood-related cancer cells. Current methods producing chimeric antigen receptor T-cells, known as CAR T-cells, produce promising results in clinical trials in patient with leukemia and other blood-related cancers.

But the current process is also time-consuming and dangerous for some patients. T-cells are taken from patients, then genetically engineered and cultured in the lab, for later infusion back into the individual, which can take several weeks to produce sufficient numbers of cells. Before the re-engineered cells can be introduced, patients must also undergo chemotherapy both as a cancer therapy, and to remove other immune system cells that can dilute the potency of the infused re-engineered T-cells. As reported in Science & Enterprise, chemotherapy treatments that precede CAR T-cell infusions were responsible for deaths of patients in clinical trials from cerebral edemas, or swelling in the brain.

Stephan and colleagues designed a more straightforward process that reprograms T-cells with genes encoding chimeric antigen receptors, and carried into the patient with nanoparticles made from a biodegradable polymer. The nanoparticles also contain molecules that attract and then bind to the T-cells, causing the receiving cells to engulf and take in the genes with chimeric antigen receptors. The CAR-encoding genes then integrate with the cells’ chromosomes and become CAR T-cells for battling blood-related cancers. The researchers say with this process, T-cells can transform into CAR T-cells in 24 to 48 hours.

The Fred Hutch team tested its process in lab mice induced with leukemia. Infusions with the CAR nanoparticles caused leukemia in the mice to go into remission, and extended survival of the mice to a median of more than 8 weeks, where the mice would normally survive only about 2 weeks. Chemotherapy was not used with the CAR nanoparticles.

The authors say production of the CAR-laden nanoparticles is relatively simple using stable polymer materials, which makes them easier to transport and store, in addition to being a faster process than before. The researchers believe the process can be engineered into a platform technology to more efficiently produce other cancer immunotherapies, as well as treatments for infectious diseases that harness cells in the immune system.

Fred Hutchinson Center says Stephan is working with companies with facilities to produce clinical-grade nanoparticles like those used in the study. Fred Hutch also filed for U.S. and international patents on the process, with Stephan listed as inventor.

More from Science & Enterprise:

*     *     *

Neural Technology Research Centers Launched

Brain wiring illustration

Brain wiring illustration (Courtesy, Human Connectome Project and NIH)

17 April 2017. Research centers for accelerating new technologies that tackle nervous system disorders are opening at two universities in the U.S., with industry partners. The five-year, $1.5 million Building Reliable Advances and Innovation in Neurotechnology, or BRAIN, research initiative is funded by grants from National Science Foundation to engineering schools at University of Houston and Arizona State University in Tempe.

The BRAIN centers expect to address neurological conditions linked to the expanding older segment of the population in the U.S. and worldwide, as well as increasing numbers of spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury cases reported across age categories. While a lot of research and development of new technologies aimed at diagnosing and treating these disorders is underway, grant recipients say progress has been uneven and a better framework including standards for evaluating for evaluating new technologies is needed. Moreover, the cost of some new technologies are beyond the reach of many potential users.

The project aims to take advantage of ongoing research at University of Houston, led by electrical engineering professor Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, and Arizona State, led by neural systems professor Marco Santello. Contreras-Vidal’s lab studies brain-machine interfaces and robotics for rehabilitation, including neuroprosthetics and wearable exoskeletons. In addition, the Houston team examines the science behind regulating these technologies. Santello’s Neural Control of Movement Laboratory at Arizona State explores science and engineering behind the workings of the human hand, as well as the role of vision and tactile input for learning and controlling object manipulation.

The Houston and Arizona State researchers plan to develop tools for evaluating new neural technologies, which the universities say will involve collaboration with industry partners. These evaluation tools are expected to include standards for evaluating new technologies ranging from performance of individual neurons up to non-human and human organisms. Research teams also plan to develop a deeper understanding of quantitative analysis tools that can also assess the effects of these technologies on quality of life, and at the same time help lower the cost of new technologies to consumers.

Among the issues research teams are expected to examine are interoperability of neurological technologies to help new sub-systems and devices work together, exchange data, and interpret the findings with a common understanding. Other teams plan to investigate measuring neural activity in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves to better assess the state of neural functions. In addition, the measurements, tools, and standards developed throughout the project will be documented for regulatory authorities to evaluate the safety, reliability, and efficacy of neural technologies.

The awards to Houston and Arizona State are made by National Science Foundation under the agency’s Industry–University Cooperative Research Centers, or IUCRC program. This program aims to bring academic researchers together with counterparts from industry for early-stage and precompetitive research and development of new technologies. These cooperative research centers are also expected to help break down disciplinary silos, as well as help develop an expert workforce in these fields.

The two BRAIN centers will support 50 academic and 14 industry researchers, with participating companies chipping in $50,000 each per year. Companies taking part include medical device maker Medtronic, medical software developer Incyphae, neurophysiological systems company Brain Vision LLC, medical instruments maker Indus Instruments, 3-D medical imaging company 3Scan, and advanced digital graphics developer Inhance Digital. Several medical centers and research institutes in Texas and Arizona are also participating.

More from Science & Enterprise:

*     *     *

Research, Medical Groups Join Science March

Demonstrator in the Women's March

Demonstrator in the Women’s March, 21 January 2017, in Washington, D.C. (A. Kotok)

17 April 2017. A collection of 25 organizations representing a range of medical research and practice disciplines announced their participation in the March for Science set for Saturday, 22 April. The groups’ joint statement supporting the event appears today on the web site of American Society of Hematology.

The March for Science began organizing soon after the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president, in response to threats against scientists made by appointees and supporters, as well as Trump himself during the campaign and after the election. The March for Science web site lists among these dangers as budget cuts and dismantling of science agencies, censorship of researchers, and disappearing data sets. The main event is a march in Washington, D.C. on 22 April — also designated as Earth Day — as well as satellite marches in at least 425 other locations, according the the March for Science umbrella organization.

The 25 medical research and practice organizations representing lab researchers and clinicians join some 170 other groups supporting the event. The organizations’ statement notes that, “Science has no political agenda but gives us the tools to find the truths about our world and then implement informed policies to enrich our communities.” The statement continues …

Science is vital to our health, as an understanding of human biology is essential to stimulating discoveries that lead to cures for devastating diseases. Every day, physicians make the best patient-care decisions they can by relying on science-based tools. Clinicians prevent disease by administering immunizations, and they manage disease by providing therapies that have been thoroughly and scientifically vetted for optimal outcomes. This science-based care saves lives, decreases human suffering, and reduces unnecessary costs.

In addition, the groups cite the work of specific biomedical agencies all threatened with sizeable budget cuts including National Institutes of Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The following organizations signed the statement:

American Academy of Dermatology
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
American Association of Cancer Research
American Association for Social Psychiatry
American College of Chest Physicians
American College of Physicians
American College of Surgeons
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychoanalytic Association
American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry
American Society of Clinical Oncology
American Society of Hematology
American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
American Urological Association
Association of American Cancer Institutes
Endocrine Society
Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer
Society of Interventional Radiology
Society of Thoracic Surgeons

More from Science & Enterprise:

*     *     *

Crispr-Based Diagnostics System Designed

Crispr-Cas9 illustration

Crispr-Cas9 illustration (

14 April 2017. A bioengineering team from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed simple, inexpensive diagnostics tools to detect infectious diseases, based on Crispr, an emerging genome-editing technology. A report of the technology appears in this week’s issue of the journal Science (paid subscription required).

Researchers from the Broad Institute, a medical research center affiliated with Harvard and MIT, as well as labs from the two institutions, are seeking to make detection of disease simpler and less costly for clinicians, particularly those in low-resource regions of the world. The team led by Broad Institute bioengineer Feng Zhang, also on the faculty at MIT, applied Crispr — short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats — to the task. Zhang is among the pioneers in Crispr technology.

Crispr is based on bacterial defense mechanisms that use RNA to identify and monitor precise locations in DNA. The actual editing of genomes with Crispr employs enzymes that cleave DNA strands at the desired points, with Crispr-associated protein 9, or Cas9, being the enzyme used for the longest period. In this project, Zhang and colleagues, focus Crispr on RNA, nucleic acids carrying instructions to cells from the genetic code in DNA. The team also harnesses a different enzyme known as Cas13a, with properties that turn Crispr into a tool for disease detection.

Cas13a targets RNA rather than DNA, but also exhibits what the researchers call promiscuous behavior, in that it keeps cleaving RNA strands after the first cuts. The researchers adapted earlier work with this enzyme, then code-named C2c2, and increased its sensitivity, so it could work with tiny specimen samples, in some cases as small as a single molecule. To develop this property of Cas13a for diagnostics, Zhang partnered with James Collins, one of the core faculty at Harvard’s Wyss Institute, a bioengineering research center.

As reported in Science & Enterprise, Collins and colleagues in 2014 developed a simple, paper-based diagnostics system to quickly detect complex cellular reactions from small specimen samples, including those for the Ebola virus, which at the time was ravaging West Africa. Zhang and Collins applied many of those same principles to Crispr diagnostics with processes, such as low heat, to amplify DNA in specimen samples. The team also employed a technique called recombinase polymerase amplification to convert amplified DNA to RNA for detection by Cas13a. These methods enable Cas13a to emit signals about the RNA being cleaved for measurement and assessment.

The team call its technology platform Specific High Sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter Unlocking, or Sherlock, which the researchers tested with a number of different infectious disease samples. The tests show Sherlock can discriminate between small samples of Zika and dengue viruses, even with the amplification reagents freeze-dried and reconstituted with water later on, similar to processes used in remote clinics. Further tests show Sherlock able to detect Zika viruses in tiny blood, urine, and saliva samples, as well as potentially predict viral loads from Zika in patients.

In addition, Sherlock can distinguish between different bacteria and viral strains. The researchers report Sherlock analyzes DNA to detect dangerous bacteria to humans, such as E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, associated with health care facility infections, but also can discriminate among various strains of those bacteria. The technology likewise distinguishes between African and American Zika strains, and different dengue viruses.

Moreover, the researchers show Sherlock can analyze DNA samples for human genetic characteristics. The team collected saliva samples from 5 individuals, and used Sherlock to identify common genetic variations known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. The researchers then compared Sherlock’s analyses with reports from the personal genetics company 23andMe, and found within 5 minutes that they matched. Further tests also show Sherlock can detect 2 cancer-causing mutations in blood samples.

The authors believe Sherlock has wide applications in diagnostics, particularly in simple paper-based tests that can be produced for as little as $0.61 each. The universities already applied for patents on the technologies. The web site of Editas Medicine, the company founded by Zhang and others to commercialize Crispr technology, so far lists no diagnostics in its product pipeline.

More from Science & Enterprise:

*     *     *

Never-Fail Methods for Promoting Your Science-Focused Event

– Contributed content –

13 April 2017. A science-focused event could be one of a number of things. You might be holding a conference or series of talks, or perhaps even an awards ceremony. Whether you’re promoting a cause or creating an event to discuss the latest findings in your field, getting people to come to your event is essential. Some events are exclusive and intimate, with only those who receive an invitation being allowed to come. Others are more open, welcoming anyone who wants to register or buy a ticket. But even if your event is free, getting people to come along isn’t always easy. Here are some of the things you could be doing to promote your event.

Science meeting, Kolkata India

(Biswarup Ganguly, Wikimedia Commons)

Contact people directly

You’re likely to know where to find people who would be interested in your event. You might already have the perfect mailing list for getting in touch with them. Maybe emailing everyone in a college department would be a good idea. Contacting your colleagues or people you might have attended events with in the past might be useful. Sometimes, it’s worth doing some research to extend some special invitations to important people you might want to attend. If you can contact someone directly, whether by email, mail or phone, and use their name, the invitation you extend will be more personal.

Offer free or discounted tickets

There are some occasions when you simply might want to fill as many seats or get rid of as many tickets as possible. You’re not necessarily looking to make money. You just want to get as many people as you can to attend your event and benefit from it. Perhaps you’re particularly interested in extending invitations to people who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to or wouldn’t consider coming to a science event like yours. Offering free or discounted tickets to these people is a good idea to enable them to come. They can get something out of the event, and you can ensure you have attendees.

Display posters

There are often places where you can display promotional material that will catch people’s eyes and encourage them to come to your event. For example, it might be a good idea to ask if you can put a poster in the local college’s science department or you could display one in your workplace. A poster can be useful for promoting in a variety of places, so find out how to make a poster and print off some copies. You could ask local businesses if they would mind displaying them or consider science-based organizations that might be interested. You can also have a digital poster that you can use online.

Promote your event online

There are lots of ways you can get people talking about your event online. Firstly, if you have a website, you can make sure you publish something about your event. Create a page with details about what’s happening, and perhaps sell tickets or have a form for registering on your site too. You can also write blog posts about what’s happening and why people should come to your event. Social media is also useful, and you can start by creating an event page on the platforms you use most. Once you have the event page set up, promote your event to people in relevant groups. For example, you might be a member of LinkedIn groups that would be interested in hearing about your event. Or you might have Facebook pages or groups that could be useful channels of promotion.

Science meeting in Australia

(John Englart, Flickr)

Advertise in relevant publications

It’s worth considering a few different types of print media to advertise your event. As well as posters, it could be a good idea to put an advert in some relevant publications. Do you have any local science magazines or newsletters that offer advertising space? Perhaps there is a scientific publication from a local college or business where a small advertisement would make sense. However, be careful when you consider the cost of doing this. Depending on the publication, it could cost more than it’s really worth paying. Consider whether you’re going to make the money back and if not, does it matter?

Tell the media

There are other types of media that can be useful to promote your science event without having to purchase advertising space. If your event is noteworthy in any way, you can tell a local news channel, newspaper or other media channel in the hope that they might talk about it. Put together a press release that you can distribute to a few different companies. Make sure you tell them why your event is important and why they should be talking about it. Don’t forget to include important details like when and where it is.

Promote your event live with a hashtag

You can also make sure you continue to promote your event while it’s taking place. Creating a hashtag to use on Twitter, Instagram, and other sites will get the conversation going before your event arrives. When it’s taking place, people can use it to share photos, quotes from speakers, and other things they find interesting. This will promote the event for people who might decide on the day that they want to come. It will also be useful if you ever want to run another event, giving people evidence of the success of the one you ran before.

Don’t forget word of mouth

It’s important not to forget about the basics, so don’t forget about using word of mouth. While you’re posting on LinkedIn and sending out press releases, remember to tell people in person about your science event. You’re sure to know people who will be interested, and they could be more inclined to come if you invite them in person. When you invite people to things online, they often say they will come and don’t turn up on the day. But if you ask them in person, they might feel more responsibility to be honest about whether they can make it.

Running a science event can help you engage with people in your field or perhaps get people interested in science. If you want it to be a success, make sure you get your promotion right.

*     *     *