TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Education and Research Tonis Lukas met with Signe Ratso, acting director-general of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, to discuss the strategic objectives of research and innovation and the role of research in resolving societal challenges.
Representatives of the European Commission were interested in hearing about Estonia's needs and challenges in relation to the activities of the European research and innovation framework program Horizon Europe and how the Commission could support reforms in Estonia.
For Estonia, the meeting provided an opportunity to discuss challenges in the implementation of the structural funds of the new period and in participating Europe's joint missions and research partnerships. It was also an opportunity to introduce directions in Estonia's research and development, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Lukas highlighted that solutions are generated in cooperation between the Commission and states but also between research establishments, universities and businesses.
"Jointly selected objectives and priorities are of key importance but it is also important that rules for funding be compatible with each other and that the programs should complement one another. For example, the Horizon Europe program of research and innovation should work in synergy with the structural funds. In the near future, we will open several new programs and measures with the resources from structural funds," he said, adding that research in Estonia must be supported and that Estonian research and researchers are increasingly successful and prominent internationally and can participate in European research partnerships and other networks.
"It is important for small states that the support system should not only be geared at technological innovation but at the research-based development of the entire society and at even development of different fields, including humanities and social sciences," Lukas noted.
Representatives of the Commission encouraged Estonia to mobilize the potential of its research and entrepreneurship and to participate even more actively in Horizon Europe. In addition to research establishments and universities, there is great potential also in innovative Estonian enterprises that could get support for growth from the European Innovation Council. The Commission expects active participation by states in European missions, the objectives of which are ambitious and concrete results are expected by 2030. The goal is to concentrate European researchers' efforts to improve public health, stop climate change and resolve other urgent issues.
Ratso pointed out that Estonia is a very active partner to the European Commission and member states in shaping the European research space and participating in Horizon Europe.
"Maintaining the level of public funding for research at 1 percent of GDP at a minimum and a policy that takes innovation into consideration are the imperative prerequisites for research to get the contribution that Estonian people and businesses expect for the development of their society. The European Commission is ready to comprehensively support Estonia in the implementation of the desired reforms," she said.
Lukas' meeting with the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation took place as part of the European Commission's two-day visit to Tallinn and was motivated by the Commission's wish to discuss the European research environment and implementation of innovation initiatives..
In addition to the Ministry of Education and Research, participants in the meeting also included representatives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Finance, Estonian Research Council and Estonian Business and Innovation Agency as well as the relevant ministries' research advisers.