France has announced that it is to give official support to the development of 'scientific diasporas' - self-organised communities of expatriate scientists and engineers - so as to curtail the impact of brain drain on developing countries. The move comes in response to a report by the Research Institute for Development (IRD), which recommended that government backing could establish scientific diasporas as 'partners in development'. The recommendations are based on an analysis of existing scientific diasporas and their potential for growth. The initiative was welcomed as a 'good idea' by EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin on 25 November. The principle behind diasporas is that scientists can contribute to scientific capacity in their home countries without having to return there permanently. The formation of such communities has been facilitated by the Internet, which has improved networking. Scientific diasporas are growing in popularity in the US, particularly among immigrant Chinese and Indian scientists. The communities have built up strong links with institutions in their home country. It is recognised, however, that this may not be as easy for African researchers, as many African countries do not have a solid scientific infrastructure. The creation of scientific diasporas is also less successful when backing from the home country government is not forthcoming. This is evidenced by the US based Moroccan association of researchers and scholars abroad (MARS), which has not succeeded in establishing itself in Morocco as was anticipated. One of the main reasons for this is considered to be the lack of strong ties with the Moroccan government. African countries traditionally close to France, particularly Senegal, Mali and Benin, are likely to be the first to benefit from the French government's support.