Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) and State Secretary at Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Audun Halvorsen on Thursday signed the agreement for the Green ICT business development cooperation program, the total volume of which is €27 million.
"Norway's grants help reduce the economic and social inequality between countries and strengthen bilateral relations," Aab said in a press release. "Both countries' entrepreneurs and organizations have a great role to play in achieving this objective."
The Estonian minister was glad to note that cooperation between Estonia and Norway is strong and that, thanks to previous programs, the entrepreneurs of the two countries have become good partners. "With the help of the cooperation program agreement signed today, we can strengthen these ties even further," he added.
The total volume of the program is €27 million, including 25 percent cofinancing on Estonia's part. Of this total, €18.5 million will go to open application rounds that will focus on industrial, IT and personal medicine product development, and another €5.3 million in total will be directed to the cybersecurity platform and projects of the Health Sense data storehouse as well as activities promoting bilateral Estonian-Norwegian relations.
The application rounds will be coordinated by Enterprise Estonia and activities will be carried out in cooperation with its Norwegian sister organization Innovation Norway. The application round for small grants preparing for main projects is to be opened this fall, while the application round for main projects is to take place next year.
The general goals of the grants of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Norway are to reduce economic and social inequality in the EEA and strengthen bilateral relations between donor and recipient countries. Grants are issued to 15 EU countries in Eastern, Central and Southern Europe. Norway is contributing altogether 97.7 percent of all grants, with Iceland and Liechtenstein contributing another 1.6 and 0.7 percent, respectively. As a rule, the rate of the grant is up to 85 percent, but may be up to 90 percent in cases related to the civil society field or social partners.
The total volume of the Norwegian financial mechanism is €1.3 billion and that of the EEA financial mechanism is €1.5 billion, making for a total contribution of €2.8 billion, up 11.3 percent from the 2009-2014 period. Of this amount, Estonia may receive €68 million of foreign aid.
The business development program is aimed to increase the competitiveness of Estonian companies and develop cooperation with Norwegian entrepreneurs, institutions and universities.
Editor: Aili Vahtla