R&D council to take funding decisions into own hands

Number of project applications for 2020
Number of project applications for 2020 Source: ERR / Unsplash

The Estonian Research and Development Council decided in early October to take control of R&D funding decisions. This means the council will be intervening in the ongoing applications round and researchers will learn of funding decisions several months later than usual.

The Research and Development Council (TAN) advises the government in matters of research and development strategy. TAN discussed its role in making strategic choices and decisions on Oct. 1 and found that it should take control of coordination and strategic choices in R&D.

What this effectively means is that TAN will intervene in which fields of research are prioritized and how much funding they receive. TAN has the right to propose guidelines, while final decisions are up to the Ministry of Education and Research.

This also means researchers will likely be unable to launch projects on schedule in January as funding decisions will be postponed until January or February.

Funding decisions are made by the Estonian Research Council's (ETAG) evaluation committee that was set to convene on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. However, ETAG chairman Andres Koppel received a letter from Indrek Reimand, deputy secretary-general for the Ministry of Education and Research, on Oct. 6, asking the council to postpone decisions until TAN meets again on Nov. 26.

The University of Tartu has voiced dissatisfaction with the situation as evaluation of applications for an already finished round will now be put on hold. The university's Vice Rector for Research Kristjan Vassil said that while it should be discussed which fields and disciplines to support, it needs to be done with enough time left until the next application round.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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