Support for strategic R&D activities by RITA



The Estonian Research Council (ETAg) supports strategic R&D within the framework of RITA in accordance with Directive nr. 1.1-2/17/15. of the Minister of Education and Research of 27 January 2017, ‘Strengthening of sectoral R&D (RITA)’, approval of the conditions for the provision of support.

The budget for RITA is 28 063 051 euros, 85% (23 765 359 euros) of which is covered by the European Regional Development Fund.


The programme aims to:

  • increase the role of the state in the strategic managing of research, including in the setting of priorities and the steering of research towards tackling the challenges faced by society;
  • strengthen the competency and capabilities of the Ministries to organise applied research and use it to tackle socio-economic problems;
  • raise the effectiveness of collaboration among Ministries, state and R&D institutions in planning and conducting R&D in line with national objectives, and boost the capabilities of Estonian R&D institutions in carrying out applied research;
  • develop research strands important for the state and support the emergence of the next generation of researchers in these research areas as well as increase the gender balance in the staffing of positions, and the consideration of gender aspects in research.

What do we support?

As part of the activity ‘Support for strategic R&D’, the Estonian Research Council is commissioning large-scale interdisciplinary applied research guided by the (future) needs of society according to the top-down principle. Research topics are proposed by the Ministries based on the needs of the state. An open call is held by ETAg for the selection of research projects. It is planned that two calls for proposals will fund 10 to 20 major interdisciplinary applied research projects.

What is the objective of support for sectoral research and development?

The activity ‘Support for strategic R&D’ aims to increase the role of the state in the strategic managing of research and in setting of priorities and improve the capabilities of Estonian R&D institutions to carry out applied research based on the needs of the state. In addition to that, support for research is intended for obtaining evidence-based recommendations and for applying them to tackle the socio-economic challenges faced by society.

As a result of the activity, the volume of national and socio economical (applied) research will increase, and research institutions will be incentivised to perform research needed for the state and to collaborate with government institutions. The activity contributes to the evolution of the state into a smart client for applied research and a user of research results, placing the organisation of research conducted for socio-economic purposes on a systematic foundation, and increasing the role of the Ministries in defining the priorities for research, development and innovation policy (RDI).

What is the amount of the support?

The budget for the activity ‘Support for strategic R&D’ is 17 041 609 euros, 85% (15 903 941 euros) of which is covered by the European Regional Development Fund. During the budget period, the Estonian Research Council will organise two calls for proposals. Applied research is commissioned by ETAg. Generally, the cost of study ranges from 500 000 to 1 500 000 euros per study and consortium. The duration of projects is 2 to 3 years. The support is not subject to the own contribution requirement; however, the Ministries may cofund research if they wish.

What are the requirements for the applicant?

The competition is open for participation by interdisciplinary consortia including representatives from research groups in at least two different R&D subareas from at least two different public R&D institutions, private institutions or universities. R&D subareas are listed in the Regulation of the Minister of Education and Research, ‘List of research and development areas’.

When may the support be applied for?

In collaboration with the Ministries, the Estonian Research Council prepares terms of reference for research topics. Based on these terms of reference, ETAg holds an open call for research proposals. The call will be made public and announced in ETIS and the website of ETAg. The first call for proposals is scheduled to open during the second to third quarter of 2016. We will publish the application instructions and application form on the day of the announcement of the call for proposals at the latest.

What are applications evaluated on?

An application meeting the requirements is evaluated by the expert evaluation panel at the Estonian Research Council and the evaluation committee at ETAg with the involvement of independent experts. Evaluation is carried out in two stages.

Research proposals are evaluated based on the following criteria:

Criterion and its weight Description of the subcriterion Subcriterion


in the criterion



Criterion 1


Socio-economic and social relevance (60%)

Impact of the project on the objectives of RITA and on the implementation of national strategies and development plans; contribution to tackling socio-economic and social problems; conformity to the framework of smart specialisation where appropriate

Plan for the dissemination and implementation of the results of the project and their dissemination to society

Expected contribution to providing for the next generation of researchers in areas important for the state; impact of the project on cross-cutting issues






3.5 points

Criterion 2

Scientific quality of the study (40%)

Capability of the consortium to implement the project, including the scientific quality of the research to date, the results of the research by the Principal Investigators and the senior research staff, and the availability of the research infrastructure
Methodology of the proposed project, its scientific quality and rationale
Whether the budget and time-frame are justified and realistic



3.5 points


The socio-economic and social relevance of a research proposal is evaluated by an expert panel in the first stage. The evaluation panel will forward the research proposals that have cleared the threshold for Criterion 1 together with the ranking of proposals and their evaluation to the Estonian Research Council.

In the second stage, the Estonian Research Council has the research proposal evaluated by two independent experts. Experts evaluate Criterion 2 (scientific quality) of the proposal. Scientific quality is also evaluated by the evaluation council at ETAg,d on the evaluations by the above independent experts. The evaluation council is entitled to adjust the cumulative score from experts during their discussions.

For every research topic, the Estonian Research Council funds at least one project that has cleared the thresholdfor both criteria and that has the highest cumulative score in the ranking of projects for the relevant research topic. If there is no such proposal in the case of a research topic, this research topic will not be funded. Once the above principle has been applied, all remaining research proposals will be ranked on the cumulative score. In the case of proposals with equal cumulative scores, we will give preference to a proposal with a higher score on the criterion of socio-economic and social quality.

The Estonian Research Council will enter into a contract for the provision of services with the consortium that has won the competition.

Liina Eek
RITA Programme Manager
+372 731 7383
+372 5300 1912
Kaidi Meus
RITA Consultant
+372 731 7380