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Researchers are often missing out on opportunities to work across different environments and domains across the full breadth of the research and innovation system.

For the past seven months, the National Centre for Universities and Business’ Researcher Career Mobility Taskforce, a group of senior business and university leaders co-chaired by NCUB chair Sam Laidlaw and Cranfield University vice chancellor Karen Holford, has been exploring how to create more diverse researcher career pathways across universities, businesses and other sectors.

Analysis of the 2018 MORE3 study of EU nations (including the UK) found that about 20 per cent of UK university researchers have previously been employed in industrial research roles. Career stage is also a significant indicator. Our analysis of HESA data shows that those in early career are more likely to move roles between industry and academia, and the rate goes down for mid- and late-career stages.

To complement the data, the taskforce commissioned Thinks Insight & Strategy to carry out in-depth interviews with over 30 practitioners and organisations, and engaged directly with over 100 stakeholders, to understand the barriers that people and organisations face in career mobility. Through this work, we sought to really understand how it feels to try to build a “mobile” career in the UK right now.

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