The main principles of R&D in Estonia are defined in the Organisation of Research and Development Act. The purpose of the Organisation of Research and Development Act is to provide the grounds for the organisation of research and development and to ensure legal means for the preservation and further development of scientific and technological creation as a component of Estonian culture and the Estonian economy.
The main instruments of financing Estonian R&D activities:
- baseline funding for R&D institutions;
- research grants;
- national R&D programmes;
- financing of centres of excellence and doctoral schools;
- covering the expenses of R&D
- Baseline funding involves the financing of R&D institutions with the aim of realizing strategic development goals, co-financing foreign and domestic projects and opening up new research directions. It is provided from the state budget.
- Research grants are applied for in a public competition on the conditions and in accordance with the procedure established by the Estonian Research Council. The Council awards research grants to individual researchers and research groups.
- Research and development programmes are launched and funds allocated by the ministry responsible for the implementation of the programme. Estonia has currently running two national R&D programmes:
- Estonian language technology (2011-2017);
- Estonian Language and Cultural Memory (2014–2018).
Through Enterprise Estonia and its sub-units, the Ministry of Economic Affairs finances R&D programmes that involve product development, co-operation with enterprises and entrepreneurs, and technology programmes for priority areas. Enterprise Estonia provides support for new companies as well as assistance to R&D activities of already active companies, NGOs and R&D institutions.
- Infrastructure expenses of a state R&D institution, which are not covered from ohter funding instruments, shall be covered from the state budget through the budget of the ministry under whose area of government the research and development institution belongs. The Ministry of Education and Research together with the Estonian Academy of Sciences have launched a process of compiling the Estonian roadmap of research infrastructures. The roadmap is a long-term (10-20 years perspective) planning instrument, which lists research infrastructure units of national importance which are either new or in need of modernizing.
Researcher mobility support enables both Estonian and foreign researchers to carry out research in a new research environment to exchange experience, expand their co-operation networks and obtain new skills. The aim of postdoctoral grant is to support researchers with PhD degree or those with equivalent research qualifications to continue their independent research careers in strong collaborative research groups for up to three years. Researcher who has received his/her doctorate in Estonia cannot apply for a postdoctoral project at an Estonian R&D institution.
International co-operation programmes provide also various options for funding researcher mobility:
- postdoctoral grants are provided by the Japanese Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) and University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies (UCL SSEES);
- the Parrot programme provides travel grants for co-operation with French researchers.
Mobility support schemes in the Mobilitas Pluss programme:
- Mobilitas Pluss postdoctoral grant– support for researchers coming to Estonia to carry out their research projects. The support is aimed at researchers who have defended theid doctoral degrees abroad (For futher information: www.etag.ee/mobilitasplusspostdoc );
- Returning researcher grant– support for researchers who have carried out their post-doctoral research (or research at least at the same level) abroad and return to continue their research in Estonia (For further information: www.etag.ee/returningresearcher);
- Top researcher grant– support for top researchers who come from abroad to work in an Estonian R&D institution and to establish their own research group (For further information: www.etag.ee/topresearcher);
- Support for study visits and training abroad– support for researchers working at Estonian R&D institutions to participate in trainings and study-visits.
See further for funding opportunities: http://www.etag.ee/en/funding/research-funding/