Estonia invests 359 million euros to increase social impact of science (1)
Estonian scientists, scientific research establishments and higher education institutions will receive grants to a total value of 359 million euros to increase the role of science in social and community life and to implement research results, in order to improve the well-being of society.
"The grants for the new period are first and foremost designed for substantive research work rather than buildings and equipment, as was the case in the last period," explained Indrek Reimand, Deputy Secretary General for Higher Education and Research with the Ministry of Education and Research. "In the next few years, we’ll be focusing on applied research and increasing the quality of research and education. Supporting future generations of scientists and developing international cooperation in Estonia is essential."
The wider objective of the grants for the new period (2014-2020) is to increase the socioeconomic impact of Estonian science. Implementing research results and knowledge in order to improve the well-being of society must become common practice. Many of the activities are therefore aimed at smart specialization areas for growth in the economy. Smart specialization is a pan-European initiative which aims to raise the level of innovation in business and improve cooperation between business and science.
In the new period, 75 percent of the structural fund grants for Estonian science and higher education will be aimed at substantive research activities and 25 percent at improving infrastructure. In the last period (2007-2013), more than half of the grants (56 percent) were aimed at modernizing infrastructure and purchasing equipment.
ASTRA and center of excellence programs to be launched first
The institutional development program ASTRA is the most comprehensive of the new measures, valued at 129 million euros, including the contributions of applicants. State and public research and development institutions and institutions of professional higher educational – 24 in total – are able to apply for the grant.
Among other things, the ASTRA program will support structural reorganization within institutions to reduce the duplication of studies and research; activities aimed at increasing quality and efficiency, such as the creation and development of joint curricula; activities aimed at doctoral students; and activities aimed at increasing international competitiveness, such as involving foreign teaching staff and scientists.
The volume of the program for scientific centers of excellence amounts to 41 million euros. A center of excellence is formed by research groups with internationally high standards. It may be formed on the basis of the research groups of one or several research and development institutions. The funds will be used to reinforce the international competitiveness of these centers, supporting future generations of scientists, developing scientific cooperation in Estonia and internationally and increasing the international impact of Estonian science.
The Archimedes Foundation will soon announce the first two calls for proposals, valued at 170 million euros.