Latvia taps scientific expertise of diaspora

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said November 28 it has received the final version of a study by the University of Latvia’s Center for the Diaspora and Migration Studies (CDMS), entitled “Engagement and Cooperation with Diaspora Scientists”. The study identifies problems and possible solutions to promote engagement and cooperation with scientists from Latvia living abroad and scientists of Latvian descent.

In total, 390 scientists have been interviewed, including 16 in-depth interviews.

The MFA’s Ambassador-at-Large for the Diaspora, Atis Sjanīts, said that such information will have many applications in the future helping build closer cooperation with many hundreds of Latvian scientists working across the globe.

"The majority of them are eager to advance Latvia’s development objectives although their professional careers are pursued abroad," a press release said.

Research led by the CDMS Director, Inta Mieriņa, took place from July to November, also including a vast survey among scientists of Latvian descent working in the United States, France, Sweden, Germany and elsewhere.

The number of scientists in Latvia is dwindling due to emigration. Studies undertaken by the University of Latvia researchers to date have clearly demonstrated that the diaspora has a great knowledge potential, especially in terms of innovation, knowledge-intensive products and expanding Latvia’s industrial space.  

Inta Mieriņa says that the untapped resources of cooperation with the scientific diaspora still need to be explored and mobilised. The diaspora scientists are interested in cooperation; however, many of them lack information on the research community in Latvia and its achievements, says the CDMS Director.

They would also like to see more openness on the part of Latvian public institutions, and require financial resources and tangible instruments for such cooperation to expand and thrive, she said.

Their preferred forms of potential joint activities and those already being used are guest lectures, presentations at conferences, joint publications, and individual involvement in projects carried out by Latvian scientists.

The diaspora scientists are the untapped resource for project evaluation in Latvia: only 3.4% of them are currently involved in the process, while 39% of the diaspora scientists would be prepared to contribute.

In the survey questionnaire, scientists were also asked questions about the World Latvian Scientists Congress scheduled for 2018. 21% of respondents knew about the event, 4% had already planned to participate, and 45% were considering the possibility (after being told about it).

The full report can be read HERE (though only in Latvian).

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