At the meeting of the Research and Development Council, several issues relevant to Estonia’s development were discussed on June 11, such as personalised medicine and the development plan of the information society. One important issue discussed was the Estonian Research and Development and Innovation Strategy until 2020 and the council recommended its presentation to the government for adoption.
The most important item in the agenda, which raised heated discussion before its approval by the council, concerned the Estonian Research and Development and Innovation Strategy “Knowledge-based Estonia 2014–2020”. This document is the third version to be drawn up in this area. According to Indrek Reimand, Deputy Secretary General at the Ministry of Education and Research, the new document takes into account both the experience gained and the recommendations of external experts. While previously the focus was on the development of R&D capability, the present document prioritises greater co-operation between research and business sectors.
The strategy sets four key objectives for Estonia: that Estonia’s research be of high quality and versatile; that Estonia be an attractive place for R&D and that the career of a researcher be a popular choice; that research and development activities serve the interests of Estonian society and economy; and that Estonia be active and visible in international co-operation in the field of R&D and innovation.
The council also heard the proposals of Andres Metspalu, Director of the Estonian Genome Center regarding the development of personalised medicine in Estonia. According to Andres Metspalu, a global trend is the integration of medical research and treatment. The studies show that 80% of people would change their behaviour, if they were aware of their personal genetic risks. This leads us to understand that it would be more effective to allocate a greater part of resources to the prevention of diseases.
Metspalu proposed specific steps for making personalised medicine available to every Estonian citizen. In his opinion, Estonia has all the prerequisites for this, ranging from high-level genome studies to e-medicine. Should the plan be put into practice, Estonia would be the first country where genome studies would be used in the making of treatment decisions for patients.
According to Prime Minister Ansip, the main question lies in the awareness of people. “If people knew their health risks, it is quite likely that they would change their lifestyle or seek help from health care,” Ansip said. Ansip stated that personalised medicine is undoubtedly a rapidly developing field, in which Estonia has all prerequisites and potential to become a forerunner. The council decided that the issues of personalised medicine would be discussed again in winter.
The council also heard an overview of the current status of the preparation of the new development plan for the information society and how it connects to the R&D and innovation policies, presented by Taavi Kotka, Deputy Secretary General at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. According to Kotka, the objective of the development plan is to create the environment for enhancing the competitiveness of the Estonian economy and the well-being of its people by the smart introduction of IT solutions.
Source: Estonian Review
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