Science and the Future
The paper deals with issues of Estonian science policy against the background of the European Research Area, but it also stresses that more attention should be paid to social sciences and other sciences focussing on Estonia.
The system of funding of science in Estonia resembles that of other European countries. The problems are also similar: linking of research results more effectively with the needs of society, raising the overall effectiveness of scientific research, substantial intensification of the involvement of private capital, increasing the relative share of applied research and innovative development activities, motivation of young people to choose a scientific career, increasing the mobility of scientists between various research centres, as well as, between the academic and business spheres. The Research and Development Strategy “Knowledge-based Estonia”, which was submitted by the Government to the Riigikogu for deliberation at the end of last year, poses a serious challenge to Estonia: to increase investments in R&D from the present 0.6 % of GDP to 1.7 %. Achievement of this objective requires a breakthrough in the Government’s budgetary policy, as well as in the involvement of the private sector, and also successful participation of Estonian scientists in international science programmes, primarily in the R&D framework programmes of the European Union.1 Estonian legislation and the mechanisms of funding of science, facilitate integration into the European research area. One of the objectives of the near future is to render the Research & Development Council, whose reorganisation is currently in progress, an efficient strategic adviser of the Government. Strategic management of research work requires an awareness of global development trends in science and, in our rapidly changing present-day world, also a certain degree of foresight, in order to be able to speedily react to changes. To remain competitive, Estonia has to behave like a rapid reaction force: in a dynamic and well-calculated way. In the present-day world, armchair science becomes an increasingly marginal phenomenon. Research is at the service of society, of the individual. Research work increasingly intersects more often with policies pursued in various areas. The creation and nursing of the scientific potential of a state begins from the first stages of the education system. The outcome of the system is the soil from which the decision-makers in public power and the private sector emerge. Success in politics and in business is based on knowledge.
1See (main text 1-2), incl., e.g., “Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions Towards a European Research Area, 2000.