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Israeli Formula to Reverse American Brain Drain

by Tanya Thomas on October 12, 2009 at 9:07 AM
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 Israeli Formula to Reverse American Brain Drain

An Israeli specialist has come up with a new formula that can prove as the sure shot way to woo back America's top scientists, academics and biotech executives who have left the country for cities like Singapore, which offer more lucrative salaries.

Dr. Noam Shomron of Tel Aviv University has shared his formula, which he says, has worked in Israel, and could rebuild America's innovation edge as well.

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"Brain drain is something that Israel has been dealing with for the last decade. Even though most scientists, physicians, biotech and high-tech professionals want to return home from their posts abroad, there is often little promise for them. We've developed a plan and package that they can't resist. And it's not only about financial incentives," said Shomron.

To turn Israeli brain drain into "brain gain," Shomron assisted three other scientists in founding BioAbroad (http://www.bioabroad.org.il/), which has successfully placed dozens of post-doctoral researchers in tenure-track positions at Israel's competitive universities.
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The Israeli project is very much a model that US states, universities and top corporations can use to keep their talent on American soil.

"Countries like Singapore are investing billions of dollars to become the world leader in biotech. We now see top American scientists starting labs in Singapore, and it's understandable. With huge benefits like multi-million dollar labs, private school for the kids, hard-to-beat salaries and perks like free rent, it's obvious why many would choose the Far East," said Shomron.

But, he says that money isn't everything for American expatriates, who eventually want to return home.

The biggest problem after heading abroad for a few years is that people get out of the loop, he says.

Without a fresh network of friends, work colleagues and neighbours, small things like finding daycare for your children can be a major task.

"We've built a resource that governments, universities and companies in Israel can use, too, and American ones can learn from our model. We think it will work well for biotech firms and schools in large cities like New York," said Shomron.

To put an effective package together, an institution needs to define its target group and hiring goals, he advised.

Attractive incentives should be offered, such as a website with useful tools, like local job openings, and information on how to prepare for interviews. Such a virtual community can help create traffic and camaraderie, he says.

A business can invite chambers of commerce, universities and government agencies to help the matchmaking process further along.

Small gifts like a free plane ticket back to the U.S. and a hotel room can ease the interviewing process, says Shomron.

He also suggests that the appointment of a special company executive in charge of such an enterprise is useful.

And transparency is key, suggested Shomron, saying: "People, after knowing what they're searching for, have to know what positions are available - the salaries, perks and support they'll receive on their return. It's a real upheaval to change your life and return to your country of origin, but little things make people feel welcome."

Source: ANI
TAN
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