Research and development

The structure and basis of operation of Estonia’s research and development (R&D) system are established in the Research and Development Organisation Act (RDOA).

The Government of the Republic:

  • prepares national R&D development plans;
  • submits them to the Riigikogu (parliament):
  • approves national R&D programmes;
  • ensures the cooperation between the ministries and enacts legislation.


The Research and Development Council advises the Government of the Republic on matters related to R&D.

The Ministry of Education and Research implements national research policy, organizes the financing and evaluation of the activities of R&D institutions and coordinates international research cooperation at the national level. The Ministry is also responsible for the planning, coordination, execution and monitoring of research policy related to the activities of universities and research institutes.

The Minister of Education and Research is advised by the Research Policy Committee.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is responsible for planning, coordinating and executing research and development activities and innovation policy related to business.

Membership of the Estonian Academy of Sciences includes approximately 60 top Estonian scientists. Ten research associations and societies and six research institutions have also joined the Academy in order to achieve common goals.

Estonian Research Council is the main research funding agency for Estonian research and is responsible for institutional and personal research funding in Estonia and providing support for participation in Horizon2020 and other EU programs.

Research libraries are designated by the Government of the Republic. The task of research libraries is to collect, store and process research information as well as to make it accessible for research purposes.

The Estonian Research Information System (ETIS) is a national register which incorporates information on R&D institutions, researchers, projects and research results. At the same time, ETIS is also used as a medium for the submission applications and reports as well as the revision and approval thereof.



     The instruments of financing Estonian research and
     development activities:

  • base financing;
  • research grants;
  • national science programmes;
  • financing of centres of excellence and doctoral schools;
  • covering the expenses of research and development infrastructure.



        International research and development cooperation
        programmes and partnerships of the European Union:

  • Joint Technology Imitatives (JTI);
  • Contractual public and private sector partnerships (cPPP);
  • Joint programmes based on article 185;
  • Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI);
  • Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC);
  • ERA-Net cooperation networks;
  • European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST);
  • Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME).

Funding programmes 2014-2020

The European Union’s instruments for funding research and development activities are mainly covered by framework programmes. The eight framework programme from 2014 onwards is Horizon 2020

International cooperation is one of the principles of the creation of a common European Research Area in order to promote cross-border cooperation, the free movement of researchers as well as the free access to research data and published articles. 


Research and development institutions


The regular evaluation of research and development institutions was carried out in 2010.


Last updated: 20 August 2018