UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: UK Attracting Europe’s Best Research Brains

Press Release   •   Dec 22, 2009 15:52 GMT

A national action plan to encourage the best brains into research careers and attract them to the UK has been published today by the department for Business, Innovations and Skills.

It contains good news for the UK as we are already meeting key elements of European best practice in the four areas covered by the National Action Plan on Researcher Mobility and Careers (NAP): open recruitment, pensions and social security, attractive working conditions and skills.

Compared with most of our EU partners, the UK has built a very open research environment. Approximately 20 percent of our academics come from abroad, roughly evenly split between EU and non EU in origin. At researcher level, the percentage is even higher – up to 50 percent in some disciplines.

As a result, the NAP restates current UK practice along with a number of case studies showcasing national and local initiatives.

It also identifies future actions so that we can continue to build on our good practice and remain an important destination for top quality research.

These include developing and strengthening the implementation of the UK Researchers’ Concordat. This Concordat, developed by the research community, aims to increase the attractiveness and sustainability of UK research careers and to improve the quantity, quality and impact of research for the benefit of UK society and the economy.

Minister for Science and Innovation Lord Drayson said:

“We are investing record amounts into research. This investment is vital to make sure that the UK, and Europe, is to fulfil our economic potential and address the great challenges ahead. That includes creating an environment which encourages the brightest young people to choose research careers.”

The NAP highlights how the UK is the most popular destination for researchers supported by various elements of the European Framework programme for funding research. These include:

·        the Marie Curie programmes which explicitly set out to fund mobile researchers

·        the European Research Council which fund the best researchers throughout the continent so that they can take their research outside their home country.

It also highlights several other initiatives which demonstrate UK good practice including a scheme run by the Wellcome Trust – a major UK research funder – to support outstanding medical or science researchers as they establish their academic careers in selected Eastern European countries, i.e. Croatia, Hungry or Poland.

Notes to editors


1. For more information, contact

Rachel Clarke

BIS press office

Phone: 18002 020 7215 5945

2. The National Action Plan on Researcher Mobility and Careers within the European Research Area

The UK's National Action Plan on Researcher Mobility and Careers within the European Research Area (NAP) has been undertaken as the UK's contribution to work on the careers and mobility "axis" of the European Research Area initiative (ERA).

Under Council Conclusions agreed last year Member States were called on to publish national action plans setting out the actions which they are undertaking in those fields

The NAP has no legal force, although (along with its counterparts from other Member States) it will feed into future discussions on how to develop policies at national and European level which will contribute to making Europe a more attractive place to do top quality research.

The draft has been developed in collaboration with key research base stakeholders (e.g. RCUK, UUK, Vitae, the Funding Councils, ECU etc) with input from DWP on the pensions and social security issues.

The plan’s implementation lies with the Research Councils and institutions which employ researchers, including universities.

3. You can dowload the action plan at:

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.


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