Strategic framework for Estonia’s participation in the research, development and innovation partnerships of the European Union
One of the key goals of the Estonian Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) Strategy 2014-2020 “Knowledge-based Estonia” is to ensure that Estonia remains active and visible in international scientific cooperation. Estonia’s participation in the research, development and innovation (RDI) partnerships of the European Union (EU), which contribute to transnational cooperation and help to tackle the challenges faced by our country and the world, makes the latest achievements in research and innovation to scientists and entrepreneurs, opens up new opportunities for cooperation and provides access to world-class research infrastructure.
Compared to the previous framework programmes, the new EU framework programme Horizon 2020 puts greater emphasis on supporting a range of public-public, and public-private partnerships. As participation in EU R&D partnerships requires substantial co-financing from member states’ own sources, Estonia has to prioritize and select the initiatives to which national support will be allocated. This strategic framework document determines the principles of state participation in partnerships, describes the decision-making process for making the selection, and outlines the tasks of the various stakeholders. The framework encompasses joint programmes based on Article 185 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI), Joint Technology Initiatives (JTI), the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) partnerships, objects (incl. European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERIC)) on the roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), and ERA-NET joint calls.
Principles and preconditions for participating in the research and development partnerships of the EU
The Estonian government provides financial support for participating in scientific cooperation initiatives that further the overall objectives related to the needs of the Estonian society and economy and to RDI, incl. the establishment of favourable preconditions for the improvement of the living standard, education, cultural development and continuity of the Republic of Estonia.
The partnerships eligible for participation shall be selected using the following criteria:
- Participation contributes to the tackling of socio-economic problems for which Estonia’s own resources are insufficient and which require international cooperation in order to be solved;
- Participation furthers the objectives of the sectoral development plan, facilitates rapid development in the sector, drives further development or enables implementing changes with notable qualitative impact;
- Participation furthers the objectives related to the development of the society, economy and science, and facilitates capacity building of research and development institutions and institutions of higher education to serve the interests of the society and economy;
- Participation is necessary for the development of competencies and supports internationalisation and research excellence.
Preconditions for participation:
- Estonia has adequate capabilities and capacities (in academic, business and/or government sector) for successful participation in research and development partnerships of the EU;
- Generally, the precondition for joining the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) objects is that the research infrastructure is included on the list of the Estonian Research Infrastructure Roadmap.
- Initiatives which are aimed at coordinating the RDI activities between countries and require the availability of the relevant national action programme will be supported provided that the respective activity has been planned as part of research activities of the ministry responsible for the sector.
Decision-making process and functions of parties
The decisions to finance participation in EU partnerships are based on the Programme of Participation in EU Partnerships (in Estonian Osaluskava). The Programme of Participation includes an overview of the current situation (partnerships and specific projects where Estonia participates) accompanied by an assessment of the effectiveness of participation up to date as well as proposals for new initiatives, including the envisaged resources and involved institutions.
The Programme of Participation will be developed in accordance with the time frame of the current RDI Strategy. The Programme of Participation will be reviewed and adjusted annually (in line with the budgeting process) or, where necessary, more frequently, taking into account the expiring and new research partnerships and the financial possibilities.
Participation in initiatives entailing extraordinary large-scale (exceeding the budget forecast) and long-term (beyond the time frame of the current strategy) commitments will be approved by a decision of the Government of the Republic in consultation with the Research and Development Council.
Decision-making process for participation in the research and development partnerships of the EU
- The Estonian Research Council (Eesti Teadusagentuur, ETAg) consolidates and transmits information on EU RDI partnerships to the sectoral ministries and makes such information available to research institutions and Enterprise Estonia which forwards it to enterprises.
- Submission of proposals for participation in partnerships:
- Sectoral ministries make a selection based on the objectives and needs of their government areas and submit their proposals to ETAg. In making the selection, the ministries commit to cover entirely or partly (for instance, using co-financing from ETAg) the expenses arising from participation.
- Research institutions submit justified proposals and participation requests to ETAg.
- For initiatives requiring the participation of enterprises, Enterprise Estonia submits consolidated proposals to ETAg:
- ETAg consolidates the proposals, draws up a proposal for Programme of Participation in view of the participation criteria and the available funding, and submits this proposal to the Committee on Research Policy for review.
- Annually or, where necessary, more frequently, the Committee on Research Policy reviews the proposal for Programme of Participation drawn up by ETAg, advises on strategic selection, and adopts an advisory opinion on the Programme. For extraordinary large-scale proposals, the Committee on Research Policy may hold an unscheduled meeting and adopt an advisory opinion on the proposal.
- A proposal for participation in initiatives entailing extraordinary large-scale (exceeding the budget forecast) and long-term (beyond the time frame of the current strategy) commitments accompanied by the proposal from the Committee on Research Policy will be submitted by the sectoral ministry to the Government of the Republic in consultation with the Research and Development Council.
- Approval of decisions to participate in partnerships:
- The Board of ETAg approves the Programme of Participation and ensures its availability to the public. Continuously updated information on the contents and status of joint research initiatives of the EU is available on the web site of ETAg. ETAg together with the Estonian institutions participating in the partnerships will be responsible for the implementation of the Programme of Participation.
- The Government of the Republic approves participation in extraordinary (large-scale/long-term) initiatives by means of a decision. All large-scale or long-term initiatives will be planned in the framework of the national budget strategy.
Financing of participation in partnerships
Participation in EU partnerships will be financed from the state budget funds, structural funds or other means available to the ministries responsible for the sector.
ETAg will (co-)finance participation only in initiatives which are approved by ETAg Board as part of the Programme of Participation or initiatives approved by the Government of the Republic.
Sectoral ministries will envisage in their budgets (full or partial) financing of participation in initiatives within their scope. The detailed work arrangements for the participation in the initiatives will be coordinated between ETAg, relevant ministries and related parties.
In case it is possible to participate in negotiations on the financing conditions for initiatives at the EU level, Estonia will prefer financing conditions which are transparent and based on objective criteria which take into account the size of countries, foster the participation of countries, and ensure the fair distribution of costs (for instance giving preference to GDP-based methods for calculating the participation fee).
Monitoring of the Programme for Participation
The Government of the Republic, the Research and Development Council and the Committee on Research Policy will be provided with an overview within the annual report on the RDI Strategy.