Flight Capital David Heenan
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On its present course, America's nation of immigrants will become a nation of emigrants. The reason? Countries from Iceland to India are launching bold initiatives to lure top talent away from the United States. For more than five years, David Heenan crisscrossed the globe-traveling to eight countries on three continents-to study America's reverse brain drain. A leading expert on globalization and author of Flight Capital (Davies-Black, $24.95), Heenan sat down for one-on-one interviews with more than 100 top-flight repatriates-world-class leaders in science, technology, and beyond. Among his findings in Asia, Europe and North America:

Yu shi ju jin. That's Chinese for, "Look out world, here we come." The country's global ascent is helping the massive nation replace the United States as the dominant economic power. To reverse decades of exodus, China is aggressively wooing back its diaspora. From Shanghai to Guangzhou, local governments are offering everything from Western-style salaries and benefits to free housing and tax breaks. What's more, venture capitalists are providing plenty of money to fund new ideas. In turn, China's best technology entrepreneurs are going home or staying home to launch their powerful new start-ups. Among them are repatriates Edward Tian, the founder of telecom giant China Netcom, and Charles Zhang, the MIT-educated founder of Sohu.com, one of China's two largest Web portals.

More than 5,000 seasoned, tech-savvy professionals have repatriated to India from the United States in the last two years alone. According to the National Association of Software and Service Companies, India's software trade organization, many of them hold U.S. work visas and green cards-some are even U.S. citizens. What's luring them back? For the most part, it's what attracted foreign investors to the nation when it began to liberalize in the 1980s-a huge potential market in one of the world's fastest-growing economies, coupled with vastly improved living standards.

This tiny city-state-about the size of Rhode Island-has developed into one of the world's great economic success stories. In the late 1990s, its government created "Contact Singapore" to locate and poach global talent. With offices located around the world, the agency means business. David Tan, the group's Harvard-educated director, reports that his work has gotten a lot easier since 9/11-having quickly attracted some 30 leading scientists and professionals, primarily because of safety and security concerns in the United States. Among the highly prized recruits is Dr. Edison Tak-Ban Liu, a Stanford-trained superstar who traded in his directorship at the U.S. National Cancer Institute to head the Genome Institute of Singapore.

The world's largest manufacturer of desktop PCs and peripherals, Taiwan- officially, the Republic of China-owes its economic miracle to the opening in the late 1980s of Hsinchu Science Park, a sprawling Silicon Valley-inspired complex of 370 firms on a former tea plantation southwest of Taipei. Now the government's Ministry of Economic Affairs is courting foreign and domestic companies to establish cutting-edge R&D facilities in Taiwan. Today, some 65 R&D centers are in operation on the island-far more than the initial goal of 40 by 2006. The facilities employ more than 4,000 engineers, including 250 first-rate professionals recruited from the U.S. and beyond.

Despite the financial burden of war and mass immigration, Israel has enjoyed decades of relative prosperity, including last year's growth of about 2 percent. What's more, the pint-size nation has arguably become the most important spawning ground for science and technology companies outside of northern California. Roughly 10 percent of the world's start-ups are here, while the country ranks first in scientists and engineers as a percentage of the workforce. Since the early 1990s, a string of Israeli leaders has sought to attract large numbers of Israelis back home. The focus? The estimated 300,000 expatriates in North America-many with much-needed scientific, technological, and management know-how. Among a recent group of 1,500 pioneers is Yoram Yahav, a Fortune 500 executive who returned to Israel to head the Technion Institute of Management, a world-class business school designed to transform Israeli entrepreneurs into disciplined, globally oriented managers.

Ireland is on a mission with a massive development plan-costing some $2 billion-aimed at bringing brainpower back to the Old Sod. One initiative is Enterprise Ireland's "BioLink USA-Ireland," a series of stateside summits designed to attract expatriates back to Ireland to create a first-rate biotechnology sector. According to Enterprise Ireland's research, more than 75 percent of the targets- some of America's most distinguished life scientists and researchers-report that they want to return home within five years.

Few Americans are aware that this small Arctic island is one of the world's five richest countries per capita. Its most famous repatriate is Dr. Kari Stefannson, a former Harvard Medical School professor with a driving ambition to turn Iceland into the epicenter of genetic discovery. Co-founder of deCODE Genetics, Stefannson has lured streams of brilliant Icelanders from Harvard and MIT to remote Reykjavik. And thanks to state-of-the-art technology and the special features of the Icelandic population, they're giving deCODE a substantial lead in tracking down the variant genes in the world's most common diseases.

Thanks to NAFTA, Mexico has gone from an economic lightweight to a Latin heavyweight with the world's ninth largest economy. Up to 2 million jobs have been created below the Rio Grande-many of them in Mexico's high-tech corridor along the U.S. border-with President Vicente Fox now spearheading a variety of programs to lure U.S. immigrants home for careers in business, government, and academia. One of the country's most prominent repatriates is Ana Maria Salazar, a Harvard Law grad who joined the U.S. Foreign Service and ultimately served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. Four years ago, Salazar returned to Mexico to work for a prestigious Mexico City think tank and now hosts a television news program to inform outsiders about life in Mexico. Additionally, more than a half-dozen repatriates recently ran for political office, and seasoned IT pros such as Jorge Savala, the founder of six high-tech start-ups, are working with Mexico's government to build a global IT industry.

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