TEDGlobal in 2011: in Edinburgh!

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TED announced today that TEDGlobal 2011, which was originally scheduled to take place in Oxford, is moving to Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. The dates won’t change: the conference (theme: “The Stuff of Life“) will take place 11-15 July 2011. We have asked TED’s European director, Bruno Giussani, to explain the reasons for the move and what TEDsters can expect from the new location.

Why this move?
TEDGlobal has successfully taken place three times in Oxford (2005, 2009, 2010). We love the city and its great beauty and rich historical and cultural roots. We are proud of the events that we have been able to organize there, and grateful to all those who have helped us make them happen. However, the (lack of) infrastructure in Oxford was increasingly limiting our ability to develop TEDGlobal in new, imaginative ways. After an extensive analysis, we have found a fantastic venue, the Edinburgh International Conference Center (EICC) and have decided to make it the new home of TEDGlobal.

Why Edinburgh?
When we started considering a move, we looked at several other UK cities. Edinburgh topped our analysis. The town’s cultural life is vibrant and far-reaching (think of the Edinburgh Festival). The city (and its university) was one of the major centres of the Enlightenment. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, and poet Walter Scott were born in Edinburgh. Its tradition includes being the home of philosopher David Hume and of economist Adam Smith (and of Harry Potter author JK Rowling, too), among many others. We firmly believe that Edinburgh will be a very fitting home for TEDGlobal, as much as Oxford has been — just with improved facilities and infrastructure.

Will the move change the mix of those who attend TEDGlobal?
Not significantly. We will keep the size of the conference roughly the same (800 attendees), and we expect a similar high-level audience profile as the one in Oxford. We are comforted in this decision by the overwhelmingly favorable response to a survey that we submitted a couple of weeks ago to all those who have already registered to attend. We may use the increased capacity of the theatre to attract a few additional attendees from countries that aren’t currently very well represented at TED conferences, making the event even more international.

For those who have never been to Edinburgh: how do you get there?
The city is located about 380 miles north of London. It’s a 1h20 flight from London’s airports, and Edinburgh’s airport is well-connected internationally, as is Glasgow’s airport, an hour away. However, I would suggest that attendees who have some flexibility consider traveling by train at least one way, leaving from London’s Kings Cross: it’s a beautiful 5-hour train ride across the summer countryside.

Tell us more about the actual venue.
The Edinburgh International Conference Center, which will host TEDGlobal, is a fantastic piece of event architecture. It features a great, intimate theatre (actually, three of them, with surprising characteristics) and enough space and flexibility for hosting TED University, TEDx workshops, the TED Fellows conference, arts and tech exhibits, simulcast lounges, networking spaces and more. I’m just back from a visit there with TED’s Operations director Katherine McCartney, and we are very excited at the new possibilites offered by this infrastructure.

There was a charm to Oxford: how will we re-create that?
Ediburgh is actually a very nice city. It doesn’t feature the dreaming spires and gargoyles and Harry Potter-esque dining rooms of Oxford, but its old town is one of the best-preserved European medieval cities. It is dominated by Edinburgh Castle, a fortress atop a volcanic rock. The city is rich in museums (including the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Museum), it is home to the Scottish Parliament (whose spectacular new building was designed by star Catalan architect Enric Miralles). We will carefully weave TEDGlobal into the fabric of the city, using its intriguing landmarks for special events.

Remind us of the theme of the conference.
The theme of TEDGlobal 2011 will be “The Stuff of Life.” Over four days, with 50-plus speakers and performers from all over the world, we will look at who we are, what we do, and how we relate to each other and to other living organisms. We will analyze the resources, technologies and skills that make life possible and keep it going — and the many things that make it interesting, enjoyable and worthwhile. We will explore themes that are basic to our humanity, and those that threaten it. The team is at work to make this a stellar experience; We’ve been working on the program for the last few months, and it’s shaping up to be amazing.

Registration is open (and half the tickets are already gone). A TEDGlobal 2011 pass costs US$5,200 until the end of March 2011; after April 1, 2011, a TEDGlobal 2011 pass will cost US$6,000. Register here >>