Prime Minister Kaja Kallas says that the government’s aim is to include more people who have experience in the fields of science and enterprise in discussions on the shaping of research and innovation policy. “I hope that the members of the new council are guided in the proposals they make by the practical needs of Estonian society and the country’s businesses in the longer term, taking best practice from around the world into account,” the head of government said in her opening address to the council. “It is important that we look beyond the workaday concerns of one particular field or organisation or interest group and view the research and innovation environment in Estonia not only more broadly, but also more strategically and from a longer-term perspective.”
During the inaugural session, the new membership of the RDC reviewed the results of the fulfilment of ‘Knowledge-based Estonia’ (the Estonian research, development and innovation strategy for 2014-2020) and discussed the most pressing challenges facing and activities involved in the new research, development, innovation and entrepreneurship development plan. Estonian companies are still investing less in research and development than those in neighbouring countries, and this must change if we want to boost productivity and competitiveness nationally.
In 2022, as previously, research and development expenditure as a proportion of the state budget will once again exceed 1% of GDP. According to the draft State Budget Act, one fifth of the additional funding allocated to achieve this or 14.2 million euros will be invested in research and development via the ministries responsible for the areas in which the activities are carried out. The aim of the financing is to support the knowledge-based shaping of policies and to achieve greater cohesion between Estonian science and society. During its session, the RDC evaluated the additional applications for research and development activities submitted by the ministries and recommended that the government support four projects.
The members of the new council also discussed the tasks they could undertake going forward and how to word them in the draft statutes of the RDC scheduled to be completed by spring 2022. Its aim is to also counsel the government in future on the development and implementation of research and innovation policy, therein reducing its proportion of ongoing tasks. The entry into force of the new act will also bring about a change in the council’s name: it will thereafter be known as the Research, Development and Innovation Policy Council or the RDIPC. The issues that could be placed on the agenda in 2022 were also discussed during the session. The action plan is due to be finalised at the council’s next session in February.
The members of the new RDC are Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Andres Sutt, Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna, Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik, University of Tartu rector Toomas Asser, entrepreneur and knowledge-based entrepreneurship mentor Heidi Kakko, green technology entrepreneur and researcher Ivar Kruusenberg, computer scientist and TalTech vice-rector for research Maarja Kruusmaa, entrepreneur Toomas Luman, Estonian Academy of Sciences president Tarmo Soomere, IT entrepreneur Ivo Suursoo and cultural historian and Tallinn University supervisory board member Marek Tamm.
Half of the members of the current RDC were also members of the previous council. In selecting the members the aim was to boost the innovation competence of the council and to achieve greater balance in its representation of fields, genders and research establishments. A further objective was to involve members of both coalition parties in the work of the council. Four of the 12 members of the RDC are government ministers, four are entrepreneurs and four are scientists and researchers.