The structure and basis of operation of Estonia’s research and development (R&D) system are established in the Research and Development Organisation Act. The directions for the development of research and development and innovation (RDI) are determined in Estonian Research and Development and Innovation Strategy „Knowledge-based Estonia 2014-2020“.
Research and development is carried out by universities and other public and private sector education and research institutions Additionally, the Estonian Academy of Sciences, as an independent and high level association of researchers, contributes to solving problems related to Estonian research and issues of social and economic development.
The R&D programme design and evaluation is enforced by the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, and other ministries too. Under their supervision, the Estonian Research Council funds research, and Enterprise Estonia funds innovation.
The policy makers are the parliament and the government, who are advised by the Research and Development Council. The policies themselves are prepared by and implemented by the ministries. The Ministry of Education and Research is advised by the Research Policy Committee, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is advised by the Innovation Policy Committee.
The government develops research policy, prepares sectoral development plans and coordinates inter-ministerial cooperation. The research council provides technical advice to the government as needed. Parliament approves the overall research strategy, based on the Research and Development Organisation Act, and once a year considers the Prime Minister’s report on the execution of that strategy, as well as the state budget for research.
Table. Estonian research and development organization structure.
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.
- 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.
- The Estonian Academy of Sciences 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.
- 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.