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Solving the talent drain in Europe's top science cities

Attracting fresh talent to science cities is vital, but how do you maximise the benefit of the existing talent in your science company?

This is a question Future Cities Forum will be putting to Eimear Meredith Jones, Partner (Consulting) at Deloitte when she joins next week's discussions at Newnham College Cambridge.

Eimear states that there is a severe shortage of graduates coming out of UK universities with sufficient knowledge in tech and data to fill future roles that will be demanded by science companies. There is also a further issue she believes in retaining staff and maximising the benefits of what they bring to firms. This is a global problem she explains but particularly evident in the UK, and it is a struggle to persuade the over 50's to return to the workplace once they have retired.

The answers to these issues will be addressed when Eimear joins investors and science park owners such as Biomed Realty, TusPark and Wellcome at Future Cities Forum's science cities discussions.

The forum will look at the issues of attracting talent, the crisis in housing in Cambridge and the region, whether transport can receive investment to improve the work commute and how planning can preserve a sense of place to keep the city from losing its appeal worldwide.

Mike Standing (Strategy and Architecture lead Partner in Deloitte’s Major Programmes team and previously Deloitte EMEA Life Science and Healthcare leader) commented on the talent attraction issue at our related 'Science Cities' discussion with Barts Life Sciences in the City of London last September:

'It is now time to design the long-term journey from cluster to supercluster. Cambridge is very expensive, and this means that different people will be attracted to different parks in the 'golden diamond' now. You can see it in Boston where the need to make something has pushed manufacturing outside the city to where land is cheaper. This emerging 'diamond' in the UK which is spreading out from Cambridge to places like Stevenage, is developing a system with varying costs of land, where expansion can happen. It is an attractive long-term model stretching over the next 20 years, where the overheating of Cambridge enables other areas.

'There needs to be a model of connectedness, not only a capital infrastructure with the layout of buildings but also an innovation system at the same time. This is essential to attract high calibre people and create a 24-hour campus where people have the ability to work together and where you get the most out of these campus buildings.

'It is really important that when you design facilities that you have worked out your unique selling proposition, asking what will you do differently here? Five years ago, everyone wanted to get into cancer research, but better to think about how to attract investment for something that isn't in a crowded market, particularly if your company is not next to a university

'In terms of getting the translational research system to work properly, the Dutch have a very good model, that of the 'horizontal university'. It is fully integrated with specialist functions including for example, economics and biology departments to improve crop science, with the expertise enabling research to translate into practical solutions. In the US there is more of a tortuous process, which has to be usually of nine steps and it's hard work. It requires process and coaching from business leaders. The question is how far do we want to go down these managed systems?'

'In the US, building clusters is about the social as well as the science because it creates an environment of job security. If your start up fails, you can join the university. There should be opportunity for both men and women and good housing so that as a family expands, the population wants to stay. This is the long-term view of intellectual capital and helps with the war on talent.'


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