One of the main activities of the Estonian Research Council (ETAg) is to finance national basic and applied research and researcher mobility. National funding can be applied for institutional research funding or personal research funding. Institutional research funding enables research and development institutions to finance high-level R&D activities and to modernize and maintain the necessary research infrastructure.
Personal research funding is funding allocated for the research activities of individuals or research groups. There are three types of grant available:
- a grant to support an individual high-risk or innovative research project at a high international level (exploratory research grant);
- a grant to support young researchers who wish to promote their independent research career and to establish an independent research group (start-up research grant);
- a grant to support post-doctoral research.
Research funding is administered by means of open calls organised by ETAg. The applications are first assessed by international experts (electronic remote review), then by 4 Expert Panels. The final decisions are made by the Evaluation Committee which comprises 13 eminent Estonian researchers from different fields of science.
In addition to that, special targeted research programmes can be set up by the directive of the Minister of Education and Research. Estonian Research Council has managed the following programmes: Health promotion research programme TerVE (2011-2015), Environmental protection and technology programme KESTA (2011-2015), and the Polar and Climate Research Programme 2012-2014.
Two national funding instruments will be terminated in 2016: targeted financing of research topics and the Estonian Science Foundation grants.