One of every 10 Israelis who received a doctorate from an Israeli university lives overseas, according to Central Bureau of Statistics data collected by the ScienceAbroad organization (formerly BioAbroad) for a series of overseas meetings it held with PhD degrees to examine the possibility of their returning to Israel.
The events focused on entrepreneurship this time, because attempts to bring back scientists to the Israeli academic community have thus far met with limited success, due to a lack of positions at higher education institutions for returning scientists.
In recent years, the universities have been expanding their programs for absorbing returning scientists in order to prevent brain drain, and in order to benefit from the unique knowledge brought by these scientists from the diverse overseas institutions at which they are studying. At the same time, these jobs are still few, and appeal to only a few of all the scientists interested in returning to Israel, whom Israel wants to bring back.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics figures, one quarter of all the holders of a mathematics PhD, 18.3% of computer science PhD holders, 17.5% of biology and aeronautics engineering PhD holders, and 16% of chemistry, physics, biochemistry, and genetics PhD holders who received their degrees in Israel are now out of the country. In all, 1,860 Israeli PhDs have been overseas for three or more years.
The main problem is probably in the life sciences. The most recent Central Bureau of Statistics survey showed that 50% of post-doctoral students identified as Israelis residing abroad are in the life sciences.
Only 9% of holders of PhDs in life sciences work in Israel in industry and agriculture, and only 7% of life sciences PhDs are accepted as academic staff.
27,826 Israelis with first, second, or third degrees lived overseas n 2015, and the proportion of returning academics is lower than the number of those leaving. Most of the young researchers accepted for work overseas report that they would like to return, but find it difficult, due to the lack of university research jobs. 600 such scientists are registered in the ScienceAbroad databases.
The organization held four entrepreneurship events this week aimed at motivating scientists to utilize entrepreneurship as an additional channel for returning to Israel. The meetings took place at McGill University in Montreal, the Israeli consulate in Chicago, the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a medical center in New York.
The goal of the entrepreneurship exhibition is to expose Israeli scientists overseas to entrepreneurship as a career option, whether by starting their own company, or by joining innovation departments at young companies in Israeli industry.
Participants included ScienceAbroad CEO Monika Lev-Cohen and entrepreneur Dr. Neta Kela, a doctor of immunology at the Weizmann Institute with a post-doctorate in cancer at Stanford University, who has founded an oncological startup in Israel.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on January 30, 2017
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