Agreement to be signed fixing Estonian R&D investment at 1% of GDP

Analytical chemist Simo Lõo at the the Cambrex R&D lab in Tallinn. 26 October 2018.
Analytical chemist Simo Lõo at the the Cambrex R&D lab in Tallinn. 26 October 2018. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

The research agreement to be signed at the Office of the President in Tallinn today will set out the goal of investing the equivalent of at least 1% of Estonia's gross domestic product into research and development activities. In 2017, just over half of that amount was invested.

As ERR's science portal wrote on Wednesday (link in Estonian), the Estonian Research Council's data shows that the public sector spent €125.3 million on research and development in 2017, which amounts to the equivalent of 0.53% of GDP.

The private sector spent more. While businesses invested €133.4 million, foreign sources of funding contributed another €45.6 million, bringing the total spent on research and development activities in 2017 to €304.3 million, some 1.29% of GDP.

In 2011, the government of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip (Reform) in its "Estonia 2020" program defined 3% of GDP as the goal for investments in research. To achieve this, Estonia would need to spend at least twice more every year than it has so far.

President Kersti Kaljulaid has invited the chairwomen and chairmen of Estonia's political parties, representatives of the country's biggest institutions in the fields of science and research and the largest business associations to sign an agreement to peg spending to 1% of Estonia's GDP.

How far this will help increase the public and private sectors' spending on research and development remains to be seen, yet the agreement is the first explicit step towards a controlled effort to increase Estonia's financial commitment to science.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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