While giving an overview of the state of research and development activities in Estonia and the government’s policy in that field, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said that the systems of research, development and innovation should not be dealt with in isolation, instead, more attention should be paid to international competitiveness.
"Research is international in its nature. Estonian entrepreneurship is also international and increasingly integrated into global value chains. Therefore, we have to take into consideration the state’s shortcomings in internationalization, when conducting research and development activities," Rõivas said.
He added that an open and tolerant society will create preconditions so that scientists from other countries and culture environments will want to come to Estonia, stay and work here.
“Intolerance and anger towards people with different backgrounds is detrimental to the development of Estonian science, economy and society,” he concluded.
According to Rõivas, one of the main obstacles for the development of Estonian entrepreneurship is the lack of qualified workers. Adding more foreign students to our labor market could help alleviate this problem to some extent.
Rõivas emphasized that the role of the state is to facilitate funding of projects that entrepreneurs cannot finance all by themselves due to market failures. “However, the state cannot be the sole donor of research and development activities in the enterprise sector. The contributions from entrepreneurs help ensure the effectiveness of these investments and an improved cohesion with the actual needs of the economy,” he said.
“The main role of the state in supporting development activities is far greater than just offering funding,” he added. “Above all, the state can create and its obligation is to create framework conditions that enable the development of enterprises and the creation of motivation for investing into research and development activities in the private sector.”
Hence, the new financial period will focus more on comprehensive solutions of supporting new innovative entrepreneurship models, and not as much on investments in technology and infrastructure.
“Science is not driven solely by science itself, in terms of scientists’ activities, they should be able to make a contribution to the general society and economy of Estonia. Increasing cooperation between entrepreneurs and scientists is crucial for the development of knowledge-based economy. Technology and knowledge transfer have to be encouraged,” Rõivas said and noted that in order to achieve this, financing models and rules have to be altered, as well as the thought patterns of all participants.
Editor: M. Oll