Helke Hillebrand traded tenure for a post in industry. Was it worth it? Julie Gould finds out.

Researchers looking to switch sectors are often plagued by uncertainty. Many take years to make the move after weighing up the pros and cons of quitting academia.

As academic research careers become increasingly precarious, Nessa Carey, a UK entrepreneur and technology transfer professional, tells Julie Gould that today’s scientists are better at planning for the future than were previous generations.

US science journalist Chris Woolston, who reports on Nature’s annual careers surveys, says the findings from 2021 show that researchers in industry are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, enjoy high salaries and be optimistic about the future than their colleagues in academia.

The second episode of this six-part podcast series about porosity, the movement of people within academia and beyond, also includes perspectives from Shambhavi Naik, whose career has straddled academic research, journalism, start-ups and policy roles in Bengalaru, India. Gould is also joined by Søren Bregenholt, chief executive of the Sweden-based biotech company Alligator Bioscience, and Helke Hillebrand, director of the graduate academy at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.