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Brain Circulation - From Brain Drain to Brain Gain

Final Report Summary - MOREBRAIN (Brain circulation - from brain drain to brain gain)

Executive summary:

MOREBRAIN is funded under the European Commission (EC)'s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The coordination tasks are developed by Bar Ilan University Service Centre (Israel) and the partners are the Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology in Extremadura (Spain), The Icelandic Centre for Research (Iceland), and Irish Universities Association (Ireland). The brain drain in Europe is an issue of primary importance on a national and pan-European scale. Understanding existing factors that influence researchers' mobility and creating new factors which can be controlled may enable European Union (EU) policy makers to convert brain drain into brain gain, and increase European brain circulation. MOREBRAIN's overall objective was to define avenues which will transform the EU into the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy and society.

To achieve this goal the MOREBRAIN consortium collaborated with the EURAXESS services network, which included studies on how to encourage researchers to return to their homeland.

Based on the vast experience EURAXESS service centres have in the area of mobility of researchers and the literature review in the field, the factors which lead to brain drain were collected. These factors were used to create the 'mobility questionnaire'.

An e-training (demonstration video) for the EURAXESS service centres was prepared and it focused on providing them with the know-how for optimal distribution of the mobility questionnaire and assisting researchers in answering the pilot mobility survey. The e-training was followed by an on-line questionnaire regarding the usefulness of the demonstration video and the training method.

A pilot 'mobility survey' report was prepared on the data collected regarding the brain drain issue within the EU and abroad. The EURAXESS EXTRANET, the EURAXESS network events, international conferences outside the network, a MOREBRAIN Facebook group, a MOREBRAIN website, a MOREBRAIN leaflet, electronic newsletters, digital newspapers, press releases and radio served as channels for promotion and dissemination of the project results and achievements.

The MOREBRAIN consortium proposed a new and creative approach of 'e-reintegration' together with the concept of 'co-sharing positions' to lessen further brain drain of quality researchers and ultimately counteract brain drain in Europe.

The project results were presented to EU policy-makers to serve as a basis of discussion and catalyst for decision-making and future policy in this field.

Project context and objectives:

Brain drain is a major concern for Europe. It is a given that researchers will opt to move to a country offering them career development, status, a better salary. Being associated with a prestigious institute is also very attractive. This major loss of 'talent' presents itself when such destinations are beyond the borders of Europe. In such cases, EU faces a considerable loss of its most promising scholars and experts.

The MOREBRAIN project portrayed the current status of researcher mobility in Europe and presented how Europe can benefit from brain circulation.

MOREBRAIN's overall objective was to define avenues which will assist in turning the EU into the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy and society. This was achieved by collaborating with the EURAXESS network members in order to collect and analyse relevant data thus creating a common and solid base which will ultimately assist in examining 'traditional' reintegration of European researchers to their country of origin and various influential factors which include salary, prestige, climate.

Knowledge of these factors is invaluable to EURAXESS service centres wishing to promote researcher reintegration. By pinpointing the most important issues leading to the return of researchers to the EU, EURAXESS service centre personnel should be able to utilise this knowledge on a daily basis to attract researchers who have left Europe. Alternately, researchers who do not wish to return to Europe may be informed by the EURAXESS service centres of the possibilities of e-reintegration and co-sharing, thus providing Europe with alternative and creative solutions to the brain drain crisis and enhancing brain circulation in Europe.

The output of this project should support national and international policy makers to recognise the potential and validity of partial reintegration.

A new and creative approach of e-reintegration proposed together with the concept of co-sharing positions may be the most effective solution to the brain drain crisis in Europe. The main project objective was a survey preparation for analysis of the state-of-the-art regarding researchers' mobility and 'traditional' reintegration of European researchers to their country of origin versus new options of e-reintegration and co-sharing positions. To answer this objective a literature review of the various surveys and studies conducted throughout Europe was carried out, to provide the consortium with knowledge of past results. Based on the vast experience EURAXESS service centres have in the area of mobility of researchers and the Literature Review, the factors which lead to brain drain were collected. These factors were used to create the 'mobility questionnaire'.

An e-training for the EURAXESS mobility centres was prepared in order to explain to them how to distribute the mobility questionnaire and assist researchers in answering the survey. A pilot 'mobility survey' Report was prepared on the data collected regarding the brain drain issue within the EU and abroad.

The EURAXESS EXTRANET, EURAXESS network events and international conferences and various types of medias served as promotion and dissemination activities of project current results and achievements. In addition, the MOREBRAIN website was launched in March 2011 and the MOREBRAIN Facebook group was created both serving as significant promotion and dissemination tools to increase awareness on the project's activities.

These activities should enhance the overall performance of the EURAXESS service centres by improving the coherence and quality of the services offered by the network of service centres and by ultimately offering new concepts of e-reintegration and co-sharing positions to mobile researchers. Introducing these concepts to the other service centres should encourage the sharing of good practice among the partners of the EURAXESS network. By instilling this knowledge, the EURAXESS service centres should be able to influence the factors which lead to reintegration on a daily basis and simultaneously increase brain circulation in Europe through e-reintegration and co-sharing positions.

Project results:

The primary aim of the European funded project 'Brain circulation - from brain drain to brain gain' (MOREBRAIN) was to define ways of transforming the EU into the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy and society.

In order to reach the main objective, a survey was prepared in order to evaluate the current situation regarding 'traditional' reintegration of European researchers to their home country and to examine options of e-reintegration and co-sharing positions.

Literature survey

A literature review was produced on the issue of the brain drain - EU scientists migrating permanently to the United States (US).

Scientific mobility within the research and academic community is a common phenomenon and, typically, a welcomed one. Mobility of researchers allows for an exchange of scientific knowledge and ideas, and creates a network of connections among scientists and academics throughout the world. This is described as a state of 'brain circulation' - an almost equal exchange of people and knowledge between nations. However, the current situation between EU and US is one of an almost one-way flow toward the US from the EU. That has created a 'brain drain' - EU scientists migrating permanently to the US. The brain drain can be measured in terms of quantity, as in the number of researchers who migrate, and / or in quality, as in the level of expertise of the researchers who migrate. It was found that the European brain drain, while relatively small in quantity, appears to be significant in terms of quality - research in this field indicates an unbalanced talent flow between the EU and the US.

Main findings:
- The flow is almost entirely one-way toward the US.
- Young EU scientists travel to the US, for PhD studies and for post-doctorate appointments.
- Scientists from the US, post-docs or others, rarely migrate to the EU.
- This situation has led to an EU 'brain drain' - loss of European scientists in favor of the US.
- Concerning post-docs from Germany, the US was the leading destination for DFG-funded postdoctoral fellows in 2007, with 54.3 % of the DFG fellows spending their fellowship there.
- Ali et al. (2007) studied two samples: One of young economists, and the other of senior physicists. They obtained the curriculum vitae of assistant professors from the top ten departments of economics in U.S. universities (n equal to 109). While only 25 % of those assistant professors obtained their bachelors in US, 87 % obtained their PhDs there.

The main results achieved:

Collection of factors which lead to brain drain

Based on the vast experience EURAXESS service centres have in the area of mobility of researchers, the literature review and the partners contribution, IUA prepared a list of 'pull' and 'push' factors which seem to influence researchers to leave their home country in favour of a new research environment in another country. In addition, the reasons were provided as to why researchers choose to remain in their home country to conduct research. For convenience the factors have been classified into the key categories: research infrastructure, career opportunities, social and economic, administration and legal issues. 'Push' and 'pull' factors served as a precursor to developing the mobility questionnaire.

Mobility questionnaire

Based on the material supplied by each partner and comments / input from Potsdam conference, the questionnaire was designed. The purpose of the questionnaire was to ascertain the causes that influence people to move to another country and the factors which encourage people to return to their homeland.

In addition, the questionnaire examined to what extent researchers are aware of the existence of the EURAXESS networking tool; to what extent it is used, researchers' satisfaction with the tool; reasons why the EURAXESS tool is not used; and the ways to increase use of the EURAXESS tool. The questionnaire also analysed the extent to which the researchers want to maintain connections with their place of origin.

New concepts of co-sharing or e-reintegration were introduced in the questionnaire. These concepts refer to the ability of a researcher to conduct research in a facility away from the home country and be electronically connected to the country of origin. The researchers were given a definition of these concepts and asked to evaluate the importance, feasibility, and relevance of the concepts in relation to their own lifestyle, career, family.

The issues covered by the questionnaire included demographic variables, job characteristics (salary, work conditions, social benefits and status), institution characteristics (prestige, quality of staff), family considerations, religious factors, the EURAXESS networking tool and the concepts of co-sharing and e-reintegration. The questionnaire was converted to electronic format and the electronic questionnaire was available on the web to all the EURAXESS service centres. The researchers' responses were synchronised into a common database.

E-training

An e-training (demonstration video) was prepared for the EURAXESS service centres and it focused on providing them with the know-how for optimal distribution of the mobility questionnaire and assisting researchers in their respective countries or regions in answering the pilot mobility survey. The video provided a short explanation about the project and its objectives. It explained the functionalities of the online survey with examples of the selected questions.

After watching the video the respondents provided their feedback about the usefulness of watching the video and about the training method by filling in an on-line questionnaire.

Pilot 'Mobility survey report'

A pilot mobility survey report was prepared on the data collected and included preliminary conclusions based on this data, regarding the brain drain issue within the EU and abroad. The report was analysed according to the following researchers' criteria:

- general background information on the respondents according to mobility status (currently mobile, previously and potentially mobile);
- 'push' and 'pull' factors;
- reasons against researchers' mobility according to mobility status (currently mobile, previously and potentially mobile);
- e-reintegration, co-sharing according to mobility status.

The following analyses were included in the report:

1. What are the factors which influence researchers to move to other countries? (within Europe, outside Europe).
2. What are the factors which encourage people to return to their homeland? (analysis also according to home country or at least according to eastern Bloc.).
3. Feasibility of (or at least openness to) the ideas of co-sharing and e-reintegration.
4. Era-link: to what extent are researchers aware of it? To what extent is it used?

The results from the report were presented at the international conferences in Vienna (Eighth European urban regional studies conference mobility and migration, September 2010) and Krakow (ERIS@, April 2011). In addition MOREBRAIN was presented at the Spanish regional event in Badajoz (Mobility, a competitive resource for researchers: 'People' programme, June 2011). The results were also presented in Zagreb at the EURAXESS service centre workshop (November 2011). The main final conclusions were presented at the final dissemination workshop during the bi-annual EURAXESS conference in Limassol (March, 2011).

This report was disseminated to the relevant stakeholders and decision / policy makers within the EU so that they can form clear conclusions on the future of mobility research. Future research can be based on the results supplied by the MOREBRAIN consortium, and will need to be larger in scope and more encompassing.

Promotion and dissemination of project results

The EURAXESS EXTRANET, the EURAXESS network events (BHO meeting in Brussels (June, 2010)), the EURAXESS service centre / local contact point workshop in Zagreb (November, 2010) and the bi-annual EURAXESS conference in Limassol (March, 2011) served as a vehicle for the promotion and dissemination of current project results and achievements.

EXTRANET

The MOREBRAIN consortium decided to use the EXTRANET for the 'mobility forum'. The EXTRANET serves as the internal communication platform for the members of the EURAXESS network and it's an effective and well- known tool widely used by the members. Documents relating to the mobility of researches and focusing on brain drain can be found on the Mobility Forum.

MOREBRAIN at BHO meeting - Brussels (June, 2010)

The initial survey results were presented at the BHO meeting in order to introduce and promote the MOREBRAIN project to the EURAXESS network audience. The MOREBRAIN presentation provided the preliminary results from the online questionnaire regarding the brain drain issue within the EU.

MOREBRAIN at EURAXESS service centre / local contact point workshop - Zagreb (November, 2010)

The MOREBRAIN project was presented during the marketplace at the EURAXESS service centre / local contact point workshop in Zagreb. The general information on the project, the factors that influence researchers to be mobile and the survey results were presented to the participants.

Final dissemination workshop - Limassol (March, 2011)

The final dissemination event was organised during the fifth EURAXESS bi-annual conference. The MOREBRAIN project was presented during the workshop on brain circulation: Attracting more researchers to Europe. The MOREBRAIN presentation briefly provided data on the quality of researchers leaving the EU for the US, results of the survey on researchers' mobility, new knowledge of the factors influencing researchers' mobility and solutions for brain circulation to convert brain drain to brain gain. The existing 'push' and 'pull' factors together with new concepts of 'e-reintegration' and 'co-sharing' were presented to the EURAXESS network.

The MOREBRAIN results were also presented at several conferences outside the EURAXESS network in order to boost awareness on the project's activities and results. MOREBRAIN's results were presented at the CAREER EU conference in Limassol (May 2010), at the eighth European urban and regional studies conference: Repositioning Europe in an era of global transformation in Vienna (September 2010) and at the ERIS@ conference in Krakow (April, 2011). In addition MOREBRAIN was presented at the Spanish regional event mobility, a Competitive resource for researchers: 'People' programme in Badajoz (June 2011)

CAREER EU conference - Limassol (May, 2010)

The MOREBRAIN project had a 20 minute slot on 25 May on a session dealing with academia and careers. 182 participants attended the career EU conference. The presentation commenced by introducing the participants to EURAXESS and showing them the EURAXESS jobs portal. It stressed that one of the main aims of EURAXESS is to assist mobile researchers and continued with the central question of the MOREBRAIN project - is researcher mobility beneficial to the EU?

The presentation included data on the quality of researchers leaving Europe for the US. The brain drain from the EU to the US, although small in quantity, is significant in quality. Therefore it is important to conduct a survey to examine the reasons for the brain drain and to come up with possible solutions for brain circulation which will convert the brain drain to brain gain.

The presentation included a short explanation of the survey with a link to the online questionnaire. Participants were urged to encourage researchers in their institutions to fill in the questionnaire. In addition, preliminary results gathered through the survey, were presented.

After the presentation there were many questions, both publicly in the auditorium and privately after the session. Participants showed keen interest and gave compliments on the presentation and on the project itself.

After the conference, individual emails were sent to the conference participants with a link to the questionnaire and a request to distribute the email to researchers. Most responded immediately that they forwarded the email to their mailing lists.

Participation in the career-EU conference fulfilled three goals:

1. Raising awareness of the EURAXESS network.
2. Dissemination of the MOREBRAIN project's preliminary results.
3. Recruiting additional respondents for the pilot mobility survey.

Eighth European urban and regional studies conference: repositioning Europe in an era of global transformation - Vienna (September 2010)

The mobility survey's results were presented at the Eighth European urban and regional studies conference: repositioning Europe in an era of global transformation. The conference was organised in Vienna (Austria) on 15-17 September 2010. The results were presented as part of one of the parallel sessions: Mobility and Migration. The conference was quite interesting and the MOREBRAIN study was very well received by the participants. There was a very interesting discussion following the presentation. All participants received the online questionnaire's link and some of them asked for the survey results. The additional aim to promote EURAXESS to an international university audience was also fulfilled.

ERIS@ conference - Krakow (April, 2011)

The European regional information society association (ERIS@), is a regional network supporting processes of digital inclusion within its 19 member regions using the tools of the Information Society. FUNDECYT is a member of ERIS@ and had the chance of sharing their own experience in the MOREBRAIN project at the annual conference held in Krakow. There were over 150 participants at the conference including government representatives and regional authorities involved in ERIS@.

This year's theme 'Moving from policy to practice' was aimed at implementing new actions in order to make policy more practical. Conclusions derived from the conference were accepted broadly across various audiences ranging from the European Commission to the private sector and from regional development agencies to academia.

The conference agenda included presentations directly related to the topic of the conference, based on three main broad themes: Infrastructures, Government and Education.

A brief presentation of the MOREBRAIN project was given detailing the results and the consortium's experience with the brain drain issue in Europe. The MOREBRAIN leaflet was disseminated to the participants during the event.

Spanish regional event:

Mobility, a competitive resource for researchers: 'People' programme - Badajoz (June 2011)

FUNDECYT organised an event in collaboration with the national contact point from the European Office (Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain) on mobility issues within the framework of the EURAXESS network. The event: 'Mobility, a competitive resource for researchers: 'People' programme was held in June 2011 and it was addressed to all the research institutions in the region.

The core of the workshop was based on the concept of mobility from the reintegration point of view. The MOREBRAIN project was included in the agenda as a topic which can offer a new perspective on the mobility of researchers.

MOREBRAIN website

The MOREBRAIN website http://www.morebrain.net/ was launched in March 2011 as one of the project's dissemination tools. Through this website more researchers can become aware of the MOREBRAIN activities and results and EURAXESS network; and BHOs, EURAXESS service centres, local contact points and other stakeholders can learn more about mobility of researchers. The MOREBRAIN project's results, activities, list of events and any relevant information regarding the brain drain issue can be found on the website.

FACEBOOK group creation

MOREBRAIN on Facebook was launched in June 2010. It was created as one of the efficient dissemination and promotion tools, in order to inform researchers about the MOREBRAIN activities, related articles and project results. In addition it serves as a stage to post ideas and contributions on the brain drain issue. Any relevant and updated information regarding the brain drain issue in Europe is uploaded on the FACEBOOK group.

Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) newsletter

The MOREBRAIN project was published in the CORDIS newsletter, EC's official information service for Research and development (R&D). As part of that service, EC publish exploitable technologies resulting from research projects. The MOREBRAIN research results were published and the project was selected for special promotion on their technology marketplace. Title: Brain gain to focus on e-reintegration and co-sharing.

MOREBRAIN in media

FUNDECYT was interviewed with reference to the MOREBRAIN project on Punto Radio (the regional radio station) and were specifically asked about the cause of concern of brain drain in the region. Following this interview, an article was published in a regional magazine. MOREBRAIN had an impact in regional and national media as a result of press releases sent by FUNDECYT. More than 20 digital newspapers have disseminated MOREBRAIN related information, including some of the most important Medias at national level.

MOREBARAIN Leaflet

A leaflet was prepared in order to promote the project at the conferences. The leaflet presents the project's general information and project's objectives. It was prepared in Spanish and English languages in order to disseminate the project at national and international conferences.

The constant cooperation between the EURAXESS service centres and the consortium members throughout the project exposed the EURAXESS service centres to the new concepts of 'e-reintegration' and 'co-sharing positions' and the collaboration achieved will assist in preventing brain drain of quality researchers. By allowing all EURAXESS Service Centers access to the project's tools and results, MOREBRAIN increased awareness of possible solutions to researcher mobility. The concepts introduced in this project offer a viable alternative to researchers who do not wish to leave their European home. At the same time, utilising these options serves to prevent further brain drain from Europe.

Potential impact:

Strategic Impact

MOREBRAIN stimulated the cooperation between EURAXESS members to examine the factors pertaining to the current pan-European Brain Drain crisis. This joint venture and collaboration achieved the development of 'e-reintegration' and 'co-sharing positions' concepts to overcome and counteract the ruinous impact of the outward flow of researchers beyond the borders of Europe. MOREBRAIN worked in close cooperation with the participating EURAXESS Network members to achieve the goal of covering many European countries which differ in culture, religion, climate, work opportunities, salaries, thus providing a more comprehensive overview of the current situation.

In order to reach the main objective a survey was prepared in order to evaluate the current situation regarding 'traditional' reintegration of European researchers to their home country and to examine options of e-reintegration and co-sharing positions.

This was achieved by:

- collecting a list of factors which lead to Brain Drain from the EURAXESS network;
- designing the 'mobility' questionnaire for evaluating options of e-reintegration and co-sharing positions;
- organising an e-training for all the participating EURAXESS service centres and providing them with the know-how for optimal distribution of the mobility questionnaire and assisting researchers in answering the pilot mobility survey;
- disseminating the project's achievements throughout the project at the EURAXESS events and at the international conferences.

The above activities were designed to enhance the overall performance of the EURAXESS network and have a socioeconomic impact by improving the coherence and quality of the services offered by the EURAXESS service centres and by ultimately offering new concepts to mobile researchers. Introducing these concepts to the other service centres encouraged the sharing of good practice among the partners of the EURAXESS network and increase pan-European collaboration of the network. By instilling this knowledge, the EURAXESS service centres can influence the factors which lead to reintegration on a daily basis and simultaneously increase brain circulation in Europe through e-reintegration and co-sharing positions.

During the course of the project various tools were created in order to improve the network efficiency:

- 'mobility' questionnaire to evaluate options of e-reintegration and co-sharing positions - concepts of e-reintegration and co-sharing;
- e-training for questionnaire administration and dissemination;
- results from the mobility survey report;
- feedback mechanisms at the e-training and workshops.

MOREBRAIN directly contributed to the above requested impact by developing new concepts for the reintegration of the European researchers in their country of origin and offering new concepts of e-reintegration and co-sharing positions to mobile researchers. Introducing these concepts to the other EURAXESS service centres will enhance the sharing of good practice amongst the partners of the whole EURAXESS network. By instilling this knowledge in their daily operations, the EURAXESS service centres should be able to influence the factors which lead to reintegration and simultaneously increase the brain gain factor through e-reintegration and co-sharing positions, thus going from brain drain to brain gain and increasing brain circulation in Europe.

Spreading excellence, exploiting results, disseminating knowledge

MOREBRAIN worked closely with the EURAXESS network members in order to collect and analyse relevant data thus creating a common and solid base which assisted in examining 'traditional' reintegration of European researchers to their country of origin and various influential factors. The output of this project is valuable to both EURAXESS service centres and policy makers.

MOREBRAIN dedicated an entire WP to dissemination and exploitation of its activities within the EURAXESS network members and outside the network.

The MOREBRAIN outcomes should increase the knowledge among EURAXESS service centres' staff, assist them in their interactions with researchers abroad, and provide them with alternative solutions for researchers who wish to stay abroad, while maintaining contact with the EU research environment.

In addition this project's results should provide support to national and international policy makers in recognising the potential and validity of e-reintegration and co-sharing. This was achieved by spreading the excellence and know-how gained through this coordination project, exploiting the results and disseminating them to EURAXESS service centres and other relevant stakeholders. The results of the project were presented to the EU policy makers for discussion to serve as a catalyst for decision making and future policy in brain drain field.

List of websites: http://www.morebrain.net/

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