"Brain drain, brain gain... brain sustain?" Challenges in building portuguese human research capacity


  • Sandra Hasanefendic




human resource qualification, policy program, science and technology


This paper presents a systematic but essentially descriptive account of the policy measure of stimulating human research capacity development under the policy program “Commitment to Science” in Portugal in the period 2006-2009. It explores the conditions that contributed to the development of the policy program and the measure to contract 1000 doctorates to Portuguese public and private research and development (R&D) units, and addresses the outcomes of the program within the overall science and technology policy development in Portugal. The results underline the importance of strategic policy planning and stable funding allocation for the success of policy initiatives. Further, the results indicate that the policy initiative was successful inasmuch as the Portuguese scientific community significantly increased, and also internationalised; however subsequent economic and political austerity hampered the absorption of young researchers into the public and private systems. The previous situation has been reversed since 2011 with a significant and perceivable decline in public investment in research, a decline of budgetary allocations to universities, and the migration of young researchers abroad. The analysis urges the revision of science and technology policy in Portugal and funding mechanisms available to R&D in consideration of the country’s socioeconomic situation, and with respect to other segments of the economic ecosystem. 


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