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Knowledge nomads why science needs migration

Natalie Day and Jack Stilgoe

Book Cover: Knowledge nomads why science needs migration

The debate about highly skilled migration can be traced back over many decades. But fears about 'brain drain' are being challenged by the idea that people flow can be good for global science and innovation. In this pamphlet we identify a new, global breed of scientist: the 'knowledge nomad', exploring who they are, what motivates them and why their movement around the world is so important. Knowledge nomads are highly skilled and highly mobile people, open-minded in their choice of home and comfortable moving between different cultures. They are increasingly vital for knowledge economies. Science and innovation now function as global networks, created from the interaction of thousands of highly skilled people. The movement of these people enables these networks to grow and function. They also bring valuable knowledge and expertise home. This pamphlet looks at four case studies where knowledge nomads play a vital role – Pfizer, the UK India Business Council, the city of Manchester and the chemistry department of Imperial College London – arguing that nomads are essential for science and innovation in the UK and beyond. Scientists have always travelled in search of new collaborations, new possibilities and new ideas. We set out how the UK can recognise and build these connections, attract the best people and encourage UK-born nomads to begin their own journeys. Natalie Day and Jack Stilgoe are senior researchers at Demos.

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