Research landscape in Estonia
Most research and development in Estonia is performed in the public sector. The largest public research university is the University of Tartu, followed by the Tallinn University of Technology, the Estonian University of Life Sciences and Tallinn University. Other large research institutions that perform high-end research are the Estonian Biocentre, the Tartu Observatory, the Estonian Literary Museum, the National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, and the Institute of the Estonian Language. The work of R&D institutions is supported by several foundations and research parks that aim to create a favorable environment for research in Estonia.
Currently there are 20 R&D institutions in Estonia that have recieved a positive evaluation by the Ministry of Education and Research for the years 2010–2017, out of which 6 are public universities. There are also several Research Centres of Excellence and Competence Centres (see tabs below).
Estonian Academy of Arts (Eesti Kunstiakadeemia)
Students: 1 100; Research field: Culture and society
Estonian Academy of Music (Eesti Muusika- ja Teatriakadeemia)
Students: 700; Research field: Culture and society
Estonian University of Life Sciences (Eesti Maaülikool)
Students: 3 300; Research fields: Natural sciences and engineering;
Tallinn University (Tallinna Ülikool)
Students: 9 000; Research fields: Biosciences and environment; Natural sciences and engineering; Culture and society
Tallinn University of Technology (Tallinna Tehnikaülikool)
Students: 12 000; Research fields: Natural sciences and engineering; Health; Biosciences and environment; Culture and society
University of Tartu (Tartu Ülikool)
Students: 13 700; Research fields: Natural sciences and engineering; Health; Biosciences and environment; Culture and society;
Bio‐Competence Centre of Healthy Dairy Products LLC Research field: Health
Competence Centre for Cancer Research Research field: Health
Competence Centre on Health Technologies Research field: Health
Cybernetica Research field: Natural sciences and engineering
Estonian Biocentre Research field: Biosciences and environment
Estonian Business School Research field: Culture and society
Estonian Literary Museum Research field: Culture and society
Estonian National Museum Research field: Culture and society
Institute of Estonian Language Research field: Culture and society
National Institute for Health Development Research field: Health
National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics Research fields: Health; Biosciences and environment; Natural Sciences and engineering
Protobios LLC Research field: Health
Tartu Observatory Research fields: Biosciences and environment; Natural sciences and engineering
Under and Tuglas Literature Centre Research field: Culture and society
Estonian Biocentre and Tartu Observatory will be joined with the University of Tartu in the near future.
Research Centres of Excellence are internationally prestigious research groups which work under common leadership and have clearly defined common goals. They receive funding from the Research Centres of Excellence (CoE) measure. The Centres of Excellence support Estonian top-level research to strengthen the position of Estonian research cooperation and competitiveness in Europe. Currently there are 9 Centres of Excellence.
Ecology of Global Change: Natural and Managed Ecosystems (EcolChange), Estonian University of Life Sciences Read description.
Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (EXCITE), Tallinn University of Technology
Zero Energy and Resource Efficient Buildings and Districts (ZEBE), Tallinn University of Technology
Centre of Excellence for Genomics and Translational Medicine (GenTransMed), University of Tartu
Centre of Excellence in Molecular Cell Engineering, University of Tartu Read description.
Advanced Materials and High-technology Devices for Sustainable Energetics, Sensorics and Nanoelectronics (HiTechDevices), University of Tartu
Competence centres are small R&D organisations jointly established and operated by a number of companies and universities. Competence Centres are structured, long term RTDI collaborations in strategic important areas between academia, industry and the public sector. Currently there are 6 Competence Centres.
The Competence Centre on Health Technologies is a biotechnology company focused on research and product development in personal medicine, drug development and both human and veterinary reproductive medicine. We collaborate closely with leading Estonian scientists, universities and biotechnology companies as well as scientific, medical and R&D institutions from Europe, Asia and America. Read more here.
Competence Centre ELIKO - Keywords: communication technologies, digital standards, ICT capabilities, digital standards. Aim: competitive products for markets and applications in health care, logistics and manufacturing. Services: embedded biosensing, motion sensing, Internet of Things communication technologies, smart environment applications, location based services. Read more here.
Bio‐Competence Centre of Healthy Dairy Products LLC (BioCC) - Focus: Applying and integrating our microbiological, biochemical, genetic, metabolomic, genomic, bioinformatic, clinical and physiological know-how to work out and implement biotechnological innovative solutions to create feed and food products and dietary supplements for general, targeted population and personal medicine challenges. Read more here.
Software Technology and Applications Competence Centre (STACC) is solving you company's data analytics tasks. Services: business process optimization, natural language processing, machine learning, personalized medicine. Read more here.
Innovative Manufacturing Engineering Systems Competence Centre (IMECC OÜ) - We are partner to companies in development of novel and competitive solutions and their implementation as well as in the field of offering expert estimations, consultations, trainings etc.Read more here.
The following institutions support research and development activities.
The Estonian Research Council (ETAg) is a government foundation and is the main funding body for R&D in Estonia. It consolidates different grants and types of funding and gives research more visibility in the society by various other activities.
See here for ETAg funding instruments.
- The Department of Research Funding is responsible for the distribution of institutional and personal grants and the handling of grant applications.
- The Department of R&D Analysis assesses the effectiveness and impact of grants provided, monitors the creation and use of intellectual property as well as the adherence to the ethical principles and research integrity.
- The Department of International Research Cooperation acts as a National Contact Point for the EU Framework Programme for Research (Horizon 2020) and represents Estonia in several international cooperation programmes and networks.
- The Department of Research Programmes implements the European structural aid programmes for R&D and for promotion of science, among which is providing support also for internationalisation of research, mobility of researchers and the next generation of researchers.
- The Science Communication Department runs a wide variety of science communication activities addressing diverse audiences from the young people to the general public.
- The Estonian Research Information System (ETIS) Department manages information on researchers, research projects, R&D institutions and various research results. The database allows searches to be performed for researchers, biographies, granted projects, publications, etc. ETIS also functions as a channel for submitting and processing grant applications and for submitting and validating project reports.
Enterprise Estonia promotes business and regional policy in Estonia. It is one of the largest institutions within the national entrepreneurship support system in Estonia, providing grants for product development, specialized advice, partnership opportunities and training for entrepreneurs, research and development institutions and for the public and the third sector.
The Technology Competence Centre Programme run by Enterprise Estonia is aimed at improving the competitiveness of businesses through strategic cooperation between the research and industry sector in Estonia. Competence centres are small R&D organisations jointly established and operated by a number of companies and universities. Such centres are characterised by their strong focus on applied research, which is essential for developing the products of the partners who found these centres. A new programme was launched in the summer 2015 to provide support for six technology competence centres in 2014-2020: Health Technology; Food and Fermentation Technologies; Bio-Competence Centre of Healthy Dairy Products; ELIKO Competenve Centre; Software Technology and Applications (STACC) and Innovative Manufacturing Engineering Systems (IMECC).
The Estonian Academy of Sciences (EAS) unites top-level Estonian scientists and scholars and acts as an umbrella organisation for a number of associated R&D organisations. The primary mission of the EAS is to advance scientific research, to provide high-level expertise and advice for the governmental organisations, helping them to shape knowledge-based decisions at national level, and to disseminate knowledge and promote research cooperation both at national and international level. The EAS represents Estonian research internationally, supports Estonian membership in international research associations and funds and operates a research exchange programme with 17 partner organisations abroad.
The Archimedes Foundation is an independent organisation founded by the goverment to coordinate and implement programmes and projects in the area of training, education and research. The Foundation is the implementing body of Erasmus+, and administers several national and international scholarship schemes for improving academic mobility as well as for promoting Estonian higher education and research abroad.
The Agency of Academic Recognition (Estonian ENIC/NARIC Centre), a unit of the Foundation, is responsible for evaluating foreign qualifications, whereas the Estonian Quality Agency for Higher and Vocational Education carries out institutional accreditation and quality assessment of study groups. The Archimedes Foundation is also the Implementing Agency of Structural Support for the period of 2014-2020 in the field of R&D.
ETIS (www.etis.ee) is the Estonian Research Information System. ETIS concentrates information on research- and development institutions, researchers, research projects and various research results. ETIS is an information channel and a tool for researchers, R&D institutions and research administrators. It is not obligatory to have an ETIS account but it is highly recommended. Researchers can use the ETIS for submitting and processing grant applications and also for confiriming project reports. Research funding organizations use ETIS for evaluating and processing applications and giving feedback.
Estonia’s research and development policy is drafted by the Government and submitted to the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) for adoption. The Government is advised in R&D issues by the Research and Development Council. The Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, which receives advice from the Research Policy Committee, is responsible for the planning, coordination, execution and monitoring of the country’s research and education policy.
Present-day R&D governance structure in Estonia
The main strategy document for Estonia’s R&D&I policy is Knowledge-based Estonia 2014–2020 — the third strategy on research and development and innovation — approved by the Riigikogu (Estonia’s parliament) in the autumn of 2013. Whereas the two previous R&D strategies focused on R&D capacity building, the current strategy aims to exploit the established potential for the benefit of Estonia’s development and economic growth. Priority setting in the strategy is based on a new methodology of smart specialisation.
The strategy document sees Estonia as an active and visible international cooperation partner in the field of R&D and innovation and outlines the aspiration of Estonia’s research institutions to high quality and versatility. One of the aims laid out in the strategy is to make Estonia an attractive place for R&D and to motivate more people to choose a career in research. Furthermore, it emphasises the need for R&D to serve the interests of the Estonian society and economy as well as increase the knowledge-intensity of the Estonian economy in general.
Estonian Research Infrastructures Roadmap (2014, pdf)