Research landscape in Estonia

Working in Europe | Research Landscape | 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.


Research Institutions

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).


BioCC OÜ Research field: Health

Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies

Competence Centre on Health Technologies Research field: Health

Cybernetica Research field: Natural sciences and engineering

Estonian Business School Research field: Culture and society

Estonian Crop Research Institute

Estonian Literary Museum Research field: Culture and society

Estonian National Museum Research field: Culture and society

Icosagen Cell Factory OÜ

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 OÜ Research field: Health

Stacc OÜ

Under and Tuglas Literature Centre Research field: Culture and society




Welcoming Programme

The Welcoming Programme Research Module is a crash course for incoming researchers and PhD students. Learn about research institutions and their functions, various academic networks and organisations, research funding schemes in Estonia, teaching practices applied at Estonian universities and more.

The Welcoming Programme offers short courses on various topics to foreign nationals about settling in Estonia.

Supporting Institutions

The following institutions support research and development activities.

ETIS ( 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

Other videos about research landscape in Estonia here

Research Strategy

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.

Text of the Strategy.


Useful links:

Estonian Research Infrastructures Roadmap (2014, pdf)

Ministry of Education and Research - Research and Development

Government Office - The Research and Development Council

Research in Estonia