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.



Welcoming Programme

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





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).


The 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.
  • Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies (TFTAK) Topics are: Food technology, fermentation, gut microbiome testing, analytics. 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.




Research in Estonia

Research in Estonia initiative

Read about Estonian Science Scene also on the Research in Estonia portal.

Research in Estonia is a promotional initiative with the aim to introduce Estonian research on an international level and for international audience.


Supporting Institutions

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 last but not least department administers the work of the Estonian Research Information System (ETIS) which concentrates 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.




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.


Research Strategy

The main strategy document for Estonia’s R&D 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

Research in Estonia