Science attachés and their networks


There is a high diversity in the way that countries (and the European Union) support dedicated science attachés in its embassies in foreign countries. Some countries establish dense networks of science attachés.


One example is the Science and Innovation Network (SIN) of the United Kingdom. The UK recognises the crucial role of international cooperation in the field of science and innovation. SIN builds partnerships and collaboration between the UK and a network of 40 countries through specific action plans which have the following objectives: Prosperity – enhancing UK growth and exports; connecting innovative UK industries and scientific expertise with international opportunities; Security – delivering solutions to global challenges such as anti-microbial resistance (AMR), health, energy, the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, and enhancing resilience to natural disasters; Influence – strengthening the UK’s foreign policy influence through science and innovation; Development – supporting international development goals and matching UK expertise to international needs. Officers identify opportunities that bring together research institutions, universities and industry, focusing on specific themes through thematic programmes.

The Swissnex Network is a global network for education, research, and innovation with locations in the US, China, India and Brazil, with a focus on innovation hubs. This network operates in addition to Science and Technology Offices and Counselors based in Swiss Embassies and aim to strengthen Switzerland’s profile as a world-leading innovation hotspot.

Several countries are increasing the number of science attachées strategically, in Italy, for example, the ministry supports the Innovitalia portal and upgrades the diplomatic-consular network with scientific officers serving at representations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Farnesina) also encourages the establishment of associations of researchers abroad, collaborating with them to keep the community’s relations with the national scientific system alive, not to leave them alone and to exploit cooperation opportunities, promoting also initiatives and visibility in Italian research and innovation.

Technology Ambassadors are an interesting initiative where ambassadors are dispatch not to specific countries, but to technology areas and companies. A “TechPlomacy” initiative was for example launched by the Danish government in 2017. It then established the Office of Denmark’s Tech Ambassador. The purpose of the initiative was first elaborated in the Government’s Foreign and Security Policy Strategy 2017-18. The mandate cuts across foreign and security policy, including cyber, development policy, export and investment promotion, and a range of sector policies – as well across Denmark’s bilateral relations with other countries, in the EU and multilateral fora.

View sites: (SIN), (swissnex), article about Italian scientific attachées, (Innovitalia portal, info about Italian SD see also here), (Danish Techplomacy), (Science and Technology Diplomatic Circle Boston)

Keywords: Science at embassies, Formal science diplomacy positions, International collaboration, Networks, Partnerships, Technology, Digitalisation

Laure-Anne Plumhans

Posted by Laure-Anne Plumhans