The Estonian Science Foundation (ETF) is an expert research-funding organisation. Its main goal is to support the most promising research initiatives in all fields of basic and applied research.
The objectives of the ETF are:
- to foster the development of basic and applied research in the main areas of scientific strength and in fields of special importance for the Estonian economy and society
- to support the most qualified and successful researchers and research groups
- to involve post-graduate and doctoral students in active research
- to facilitate international cooperation and mobility of researchers
The ETF allocates more than 130 million EEK (more than 8,3 million euros) to high-level research annually. This represents about one-fifth of the total of the Estonian government’s research funding. Every year over 2000 professional researchers, as well as post-graduate and doctoral students at universities and research institutions, work on more than 650 ETF-funded projects. The ETF uses state budget appropriations to award research grants on a competitive basis to individuals and to research groups. The funding decisions are based on careful scientific evaluation of the applicant and of the research project.
Once a year, the ETF announces a call for research project proposals by Estonian researchers or by foreign researchers working permanently in Estonia. The duration of a project may be up to four years. Every proposal is reviewed by at least two Estonian and/or foreign referees. Expert commissions and panels rank the projects, based on the referees’ reports. The final decisions on funding are made by the ETF Council. The 2008 ETF research grant budget was 130 million EEK (about 8,3 million euros). 321 new project proposals were submitted to the ETF, and 101 of these received funding. In addition, there were 440 continuing projects that received funding.
The Estonian Science Foundation represents the Estonian research community at the international level, including cooperation with European organisations and in bilateral agreements. The ETF has signed cooperation agreements with the Academy of Finland, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research and the Lithuanian State Foundation for Science and Studies. According to a bilateral agreement, ETF is a partner organisation of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and acts as its representative in Estonia. ETF has also been involved in a travel grant scheme supported by the Embassy of the United States, aiming to facilitate cooperation between Estonian and American researchers. In addition, ETF has established close cooperation with many other research councils and foundations across the world.
The Estonian Science Foundation is a member of the European Science Foundation (ESF). ESF membership has improved the international cooperation of Estonian scientists via participation in networks and programmes. In 2005, Estonian researchers were participant in seven ESF scientific programmes in different fields of research. ETF has also joined several EUROCORES initiatives. Since 2004, ETF is a member of the EUROHORCs.
The ETF is actively involved in the ERA-NET scheme of the EU’s framework programme for research. In 2005, ETF participates in seven ERA-NET projects.