Reversing the 'brain drain' in Hungary

20-02-2004

A large the number of people in central Europe are planning to leave their countries in search of a better job. Hungary is one such country - where a large number of highly qualified research and development people, have already moved overseas. This so-called 'brain drain' problem has long been recognised - but now one young businesswoman who returned to her homeland has created an organisation to encourage other young people to move their brains - and their business - back home. Regina Saphier is the founder of the Retour Office. Sándor Laczkó of Radio Budapest asks her about what it takes to attract people back to Hungary.

"One very important issue is of course money. I mean, there is this wonderful opportunity called the Welcome Trust in the U.K, which supports Hungarian researchers and they give them huge amounts of money to come back and start their own projects. Now in Hungary of course the financial resources are not there. But the financial issue is one thing - the other one is that local structures, higher education structures and research groups are very closed and it's very hard to open them up. And this it despite the fact that it would be very important to do so in terms of global cooperation. And this is really the direction we need to go in."

How does your project Retour help to enhance this process?

"We are not only focussing on degree-holders, or researchers, as we think that this is a whole complex group of people. They can be professionals, who have worked overseas; people who might have received their degrees in Hungary but have also have a lot of work experience from the U.S or Canada or Australia or even Europe. So we are concentrating on several groups of the population."

"And what we mostly do at the moment is lobbying for support. We are trying to draw people's attention to the fact that home comers need support in order to be able to efficiently integrate in the country and this way we returnees can solve problems in the country. We are very innovative, very active in terms of changing things and doing things. So at the moment we're having regular open shop meetings, and we collect information on our website too - which is www.projectretour.org.hu. Another very important issue is that if you are an NGO in Hungary it is very hard to starts your operation, because there is no culture for financial support. So we're trying to pursue people who live in brain drain countries and can afford to support such organisations because we would like to also give financial support to returnees."

20-02-2004