1. How to Get Started?
2. What Is Science Diplomacy?
3. Who Are the Science Diplomacy Stakeholders?
4. How Does the EU Practice Science Diplomacy?
5. What Are the National, Regional and Thematic Approaches of Science Diplomacy?
6. What Set of Skills Do I Need to Be a Good Science Diplomat?
7. Hands On! Case Studies
8. How Can You Dive Deeper into Science Diplomacy?
Satisfaction Survey

3.3.2 National Networks

Countries have different science diplomacy national strategies to pursue their international policy goals in STI. The majority of states rely heavily on specifically recruited experts working together with career diplomats. In many cases these tend to be local employees of the respective Embassy or deployed diplomats and/or officers from their home countries. The coordination of these stakeholders may rely solely on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of STI, the Economics and Trade Department, or on a mixed governance model. We will cover below the UK Science and Innovation Network as an example of mono-stakeholder governmental national network.

An increasing number of countries are also extending their national networks (which are associated with their Embassies) by establishing additional innovation hubs abroad not necessarily linked to embassies or consulates, but to global innovative clusters. Here we want to highlight the case of the Swissnex Network of Switzerland, but the Office of Denmark’s Tech Ambassador would also be a valid example.

Research and Academia as well as Civil Society Organisations may develop their own national networks too, and in doing so they influence the strategy of national governments, becoming even a significant collaborative driver for some countries. This is the case of Spain, which science diplomacy strategy includes a bottom-up, multi-stakeholder approach to science diplomacy. The Spanish government has been collaborating with communities of Spanish scientists abroad as key partners for public diplomacy (Elorza Moreno et al. 2017).

Indeed, Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Diaspora Networks may play an active role in science diplomacy and represent a special type of network that is worth exploring further.

Browse the tabs below to learn more about all of them! Note there are additional links further below and more information in Lesson 5.2 Regional and National Science Diplomacy Strategies.

UK Science and Innovation Network

Main website: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/uk-science-and-innovation-network

The Global Science and Innovation Network Blog: https://blogs.fco.gov.uk/global-science-and-innovation-network/


Mono-stakeholder network: Governmental stakeholder is the unique and lead stakeholder, bringing together two governmental departments.

It may collaborate with other national and international stakeholders on a project basis.

The network at a glance

The UK is a global leader in science and innovation, and international collaboration is essential to maintaining the excellence of the UK’s research base and the competitive advantage of their innovative businesses.

The Science and Innovation Network (SIN) allocates local officers in over 40 countries and territories around the world, in order to build partnerships and collaborations between the UK and other countries.

SIN officers work with the local science and innovation community in support of UK policy overseas, leading to mutual benefits to the UK and the host country.

Established in 2001

Around 110 officers in 40 countries and regions

SIN around the world
UK SIN has officers around the world covering countries and territories

A network managed and funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) with coordination and additional funding from the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Type of Members
A network of STI attachés (locally hired-officers) who are embedded in British embassies and consulates abroad, working alongside with career diplomats.

Rationale and activities

SIN strives to build up key science and innovation partnerships between UK and host countries to maintain the UK’s scientific excellence and reputation, and support British interests in the global race on innovation. These collaborations may fill capability gaps, add value by leveraging international resources, ensure the UK is a partner of choice, and help British companies to tap into foreign markets.

SIN teams develop country-specific action plans and work to the following global 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 need

SIN is pursuing these objectives via a series of thematic programmes such as: Health and Life Sciences, Clean Energy, Food and Agriculture, Future Manufacturing, Cyber and Information Communications Technology (ICT), Quantum Technology, Future Cities, Resources and resilience, Polar Regions, Space, and Oceans.

SIN has published a list of impact stories, where you may understand their impact all around the globe in different topics and scenarios. Visit this link for further information.

What the experts think

Watch the interview below with one SIN officer!

Sara Cebrián

Sara Cebrián

UK Science and Innovation Network Delegate in Spain & Portugal, British Embassy in Madrid

Could you describe shortly the British science diplomacy model?

Swissnex Network



A multi stake-holder network involving:

  • Lead: Government (bringing together two governmental departments)
  • Other stakeholders: Industry sector (startups, innovation-driven companies and creative industries linked to education, research and innovation), Research and Academia, and Civil Society Organisations

The network at a glance

Swissnex is the Swiss global network connecting the dots in education, research, and innovation. Their goal is to support the outreach and active engagement of Swiss partners in the international exchange of knowledge, ideas and talent.

The Swissnex Network is an initiative of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and is part of the Confederation’s network abroad managed by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The activities of the Swissnex Network are based on a collaborative approach, relying on public and private partnerships and funding

The five Swissnex locations and their outposts are established in the world’s most innovative hubs. Together with around twenty Science and Technology Offices (STO) and Counsellors (STC) based in Swiss Embassies, they all contribute to strengthen Switzerland’s profile as a world-leading innovation hotspot.


Swissnex offices are located in Boston (2000), San Francisco (2003), Singapore* (2004), Shanghai (2008), Bangalore (2010) and Rio de Janeiro (2014), with additional outposts and the connection to Science and Technology Offices in Swiss Embassies. See map below.

* In 2015, after 10 years of activity, it was decided to transform Swissnex Singapore into a Science and Technology Office within the Swiss Embassy

The Swiss global network comprises five Swissnex locations (in big red), three Swissnex outposts (in small red), twenty Science and Technology Offices and Counsellors based in Swiss Embassies (in blue), and its headquarters (in green). For more information, see link.

Public (SERI and other public partners) with Private partners

Type of Members
A network of over 70 employees deployed in over 30 locations

Rationale and activities

The Swiss government is active in science, policies, and diplomacy through the internationalisation of almost all technical departments, its support for developing and emerging countries. For that purpose, the Swiss federal government has created a formal science diplomacy network that includes eighteen science counsellors and a set of Swissnex offices and outposts.

Swissnex is a public-private partnership to promote cooperation in science, technology, and innovation. The network is based on the organization ordinances of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

The Swissnex Committee (public and private members) advises the State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation on strategic issues relating to the Swissnex Network. It comprises ten high-ranking representatives from the most important ERI institutions (Swiss National Science Foundation, Innosuisse, swissuniversities), the foundations sector, and the public and industry sector. You may find more information about Swissnex’s governance, here.

The Swissnex model is based on four basic principles: strategic location selection, partnership funding model, autonomy and decentralised governance, and entrepreneurial organisational culture.

What the experts think

Learn more about the Swiss science diplomacy model from the following expert.

Niccolo Iorno

Niccolo Iorno

Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)

Could you describe shortly the Swiss science diplomacy model?

STI Diaspora Networks

Researchers, tech experts and innovators of a specific nationality who live and work abroad may establish research and academic organisations with the aims of:

  1. Increasing their voice in their host countries
  2. Influencing STI policies in their home countries
  3. Fostering bilateral STI collaborations and talent mobility.

STI diaspora networks have vast potential as agents for innovation and internationalisation in their home countries as well as for exploring new ways of engagement between stakeholders of all natures (read more, here).

These organisations are usually run by researchers and/or tech experts and they may differ in both scope and nature (multisector, multidisciplinary, etc). Some of these organisations closely interact with government, other research and academic institutions, and civil society and private funders to achieve their goals and to develop projects in partnerships.

Governments that have their STI diaspora as a policy priority strive to establish mechanisms to interact and collaborate with their STI diaspora for mutual benefit, be it through either their networks of embassies and consulates or through different STI governmental departments. This is of special importance for developing countries and emerging economies, but it is also becoming more important for advanced economies as a way to include more STI affairs in their foreign policy agenda. Some governments are even the ones establishing and managing the STI diaspora, such as Germany and their German Academic International Network (GAIN) or Greece and their “Bridges” initiative (Labrianidis et al., 2019).

Research and academic institutions are also crucial partners of the STI diaspora, as they will be the direct beneficiaries of international scientific cooperation and talent mobility. Going one step further, some universities keep track of their alumni establishing their own alumni networks, while other universities foster foreign student and researcher associations in their campuses to increase their internationalisation profile, among other goals. Additionally, scientific and engineering professional societies, as well as national academies of science can support the development of STI diasporas and collaborate with them in specific projects.

Examples of STI diaspora networks

There is not a single model of STI diaspora network. Here we list some examples, but there are many more out there!

Please, note that we are considering networks from one nationality that transcends physical borders. There are STI diaspora scientific associations based in just one country (see list of examples at the end of this page), which would fall, following our taxonomy, under the category of “Research and Academic” stakeholders, and not under “National Networks”.

Also, we will revisit STI diaspora networks in the topic 3.3.3 Sub-global Networks and 3.3.4 Global Networks for some particular cases.


Multi-stakeholder network.

  • Lead: Government and Research and Academia (research funders)
  • Partners: Research and Academia (research performing organisations and individual researchers)

GAIN is a joint initiative of the three major research funding organizations in Germany: the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Research Foundation (DFG) and receives support from the Federal Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF). With its associated members and cooperation partners, the network covers the entire spectrum of the German research landscape (see here).


GAIN has a total of 49 GAIN chapters present in the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Austria, Singapur, and Germany.


GAIN is the network of German scientists and researchers of all disciplines, working at leading research institutions worldwide. GAIN helps its members maintain and build their international networks and facilitates transatlantic mobility and cooperation. GAIN informs about career and funding opportunities and recent developments in science policy in Germany (read more here). To achieve these aims, GAIN displays a variety of professional networking events and an annual career fair in the US.

Mono-stakeholder network (group of Malaysian scientists around the world)

Lead: Research and Academia (individual researchers)


Individual Malaysian scientists, researchers, and tech innovators belong to this network and are scattered throughout 24 countries, most of them in Malaysia, US, UK, and Australia.


The initiative aims to connect Malaysian scientific researchers and industry professionals across the world. Their aims are:

  • to discuss research issues in Malaysia,
  • to represent the voice of the Malaysian scientific community across the world,
  • to provide collective ideas in hopes to improve scientific research and development in Malaysia,
  • to promote research collaboration within academia and/or with the industry,
  • and lastly to inspire and provide guidance for early stage Malaysian researchers.
RAICEX – Red de Asociaciones de Investigadores y Científicos Españoles en el Exterior

Mono-stakeholder network (a network of 18 researchers’ associations in different countries).

Lead: Research and Academia (researchers’ associations)


The network is present in 18 countries around the world: United Kingdom, Germany, United States of America, Sweden, China, Norway, Denmark, Australia, Mexico, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates.


RAICEX aims to foster networking and knowledge exchange between Spanish researchers and scientists abroad. It also aims to position itself as an advisory body to the Spanish STI system to exchange information and to catalyse international and multinational scientific collaborations.

Knowledge and Partnership Bridges (Gefyres Gnosis Kai Synergasias)



  • Lead: Governmental Stakeholders (Ministry of Economy and Development and the National Documentation Centre)




The network is present in 18 countries around the world: United Kingdom, Germany, United States of America, Sweden, China, Norway, Denmark, Australia, Mexico, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and South Africa.




Bridges’ focuses on the ‘returning’ of the best knowledge and experience of Greeks abroad and their interconnectivity with the country. The objective of the initiative is to bring high quality human capital of the country together and to create collaboration links between them. As part of this effort, the country’s scientific personnel living abroad can have a direct active role in the transformation of the Greek economy, forming nodes of productive and innovative international centres.

The platform designed to meet the aforementioned objectives, operates on three pillars: the networking and subsequent partnerships through the creation of a global network of Greek scientists, professionals and entrepreneurs, updates on funding opportunities in Greece and the mapping of highly skilled Greeks who live and work abroad.

The above pillars are intended to run simultaneously so as to provide reliable comprehensive updates on funding and scholarships, data for Greeks in Greece and those abroad so that they can implement or boost their existing activities, and, through their registration on the platform, further enhance their search activity for new contacts and partnerships with multi-level benefits.

For further information, read (Labrianidis, Sachini and Karampekios 2019).

What the experts think

Jürgen Haberleithner

Jürgen Haberleithner

Professor at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Study Centre, APEC Study Centres Consortium (ASCC) and University of Colima (Mexico).

Head of the chapter Mexico of the Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America diaspora association (ASCINA) and president of the Austrian-Spanish Society

What is the role of scientific and innovation diasporas in science diplomacy?

Learn more about STI diasporas and their engagement with national governments in the links below!
The impact of STI diasporas
–       Guchteneire, Paul de, Matthias Koenig, and Sami Mahroum (2006): “Transnational knowledge through diaspora networks.” International Journal on Multicultural Societies, Vol. 8, No. 1. UNESCO (Link)
–       Royal Society, The (2011): Knowledge, networks and nations. Global scientific collaboration in the 21st century. RS Policy document 03/11. London: The Royal Society. (Link)
–       Meyer, Jean-Baptiste (coord.) (2015): Diaspora: hacia la nueva frontera. Marseille (FRA); Montevideo: IRD; Universidad de la Republica (Link, in Spanish)

–       Elorza Moreno, Ana, Lorenzo Melchor, Guillermo Orts-Gil, Cristina Gracia, Izaskun Lacunza, Borja Izquierdo, and Jose Ignacio Fernández-Vera  (2017): “Spanish Science Diplomacy: A Global and Collaborative Bottom-Up Approach.” Science & Diplomacy, Vol. 6, No. 1 (March 2017) (Link)
–       Labrianidis, Lois, Evi Sachini, and Nikolaos Karampekios (2019): “Establishing a Greek Diaspora Knowledge Network through ‘Knowledge and Partnership Bridges’.” Science & Diplomacy, Vol. 8, No. 1 (May 2019) (Link)
More examples of STI diasporas networks
–       The Polonium Foundation (Link)
–       Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America (ASCINA) (Link)

Examples of STI diasporas based in one country
–       Asociación de Profesionales Argentinos en Reino Unido – APARU (Link)
–       Portuguese Association of Researchers and Students in the UK – PARSUK (Link)
–       Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (Link)

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