The Estonian state has established an applied research center in partnership with businesses and research institutions to encourage business research and development (R&D) and innovation. The state plans to allocate €16 million in funding to the center over the next four years.
Metrosert, a state-owned joint stock company, is the central body for measurement in Estonia. The company's role is to ensure all measuring instruments, from shop scales to domestic water meters, are fit for use and reliable. The Estonian state has now also tasked Metrosert with establishing an applied research center, to conduct applied research for the benefit of businesses.
The center will carry out applied research in relation to five different fields: biorefining, drone technologies, autonomous vehicles, hydrogen technologies and health data.
Metrosert board member Aigar Vaigu, gave an example of how the center will be beneficial to biorefining research.
"We have very good research groups, at the University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) for example, however, their experiments are conducted on a scale of one liter or ten liters. In industry, however, the bioreactors, which ferment the materials, need to be able to produce tens of thousands of liters. In order to go from five or ten liters to tens of thousands of liters, it is necessary to first test how the same processes might behave on a few hundred liters or even a few thousand liters. This is the capability that Metrosert can offer Estonian companies," Vaigu said.
Sille Kraam, deputy secretary general for economic development at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, said that businesses need support from the state, as Estonian companies are generally too small to engage in research and development entirely by themselves.
"As companies are small, they tend to 'buy in' this knowledge, from universities for example. With the Center for Applied Research, we are primarily addressing areas where today there are so-called white spaces, where it is not currently possible to get these services from research and development institutions. Or where speed is of the essence for a company - to take advantage of the market situation and obtain the required knowledge as quickly as possible, on the basis of which it can then develop its products and services. This is where the Center for Applied Research will come in," Kraam said.
Kraam added that a team is currently being formed at the Center for Applied Research in order to provide services to businesses in the coming years. In particular, they hope to attract people from outside Estonia with strong research and entrepreneurial backgrounds.
Editor: Michael Cole