Companies spent 6 pct more on research and development in 2015

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2015 the expenditure on research and development (R&D) in Estonia amounted to 302.8 million euros, which was 6% more than in 2014.

Expenditure on research and development in the period 2011–2015 experienced an escalation and decline trend. Changes were caused by one-time, large-scale investments in 2010–2012, followed by a decline in the next two years due to the absence of major new investments. It is characteristic of the economy of a small country that one-time investments, especially if these are not followed by equivalent investments in subsequent years, can significantly impact statistical indicators.

Diagram: R&D expenditure, 2005–2015

46% of R&D expenditure came from the 2015 State Budget. The government funds a substantial share of R&D spending, and this remained stable in 2013–2015. The share of R&D financing in the total general government expenditure was 1.7%. It is important to note that the funding allocated to R&D by the government also includes the European Union’s subsidies, which are included in the State Budget and are counted as government allocations.

The ratio of R&D expenditure to gross domestic product (GDP) was 1.5%, remaining on last year’s level. According to Eurostat’s preliminary data, with its R&D intensity indicator Estonia retained its intermediate position among the EU Member States.

Research and development expenditure in the business enterprise sector was 139.4 million euros, which accounted for 46% of the total R&D expenditure. Spending increased by 11% compared to the previous year, and this is mainly due to increased labour costs. The share of investments in the R&D expenditure of the business enterprise sector was at a record low, amounting to only 17% of the total expenditure, which is the lowest in the last five years. Obviously, this is influenced by the overall economic situation where investment activity started to decline already in 2013, and this downward trend continued in 2015.

The R&D expenditure in the non-profit sector (higher education, government and non-profit private sector) was 163.4 million euros, i.e. 54% of total R&D costs. Of these, 79% were funded by the government. The biggest share – 41% of the non-profit institutional sector’s R&D expenditure – was in the higher education sector. Similarly to the business enterprise sector, in the non-profit institutional sector, labour costs accounted for the greatest share of research and development expenditure – 50%.

Diagram: Ratio of R&D expenditure to GDP, 2015

The number of research and development employees calculated in full-time equivalents declined 6% compared to 2014. Calculated in full-time equivalents, the number of researchers and engineers declined slightly less – by 3%. The decrease in the number of full-time researchers and engineers was influenced the most by the business enterprise sector, where the figure fell by 9% compared to 2014; in the non-profit sector the decline was only 1%. However, labour costs in research and development grew by a total of 9%, including in the business enterprise sector by 18% and in non-profit sectors by 1%.

For the statistical activity “Research and development”, the main representative of public interest is the Ministry of Education and Research, commissioned by whom Statistics Estonia collects and analyses the data necessary for performing this statistical activity.

Source: Statsitics Estonia

Self-driving buses on Tallinn streets next July

At least two small self-driving buses are to be put into service in Tallinn at the start of Estonia’s presidency of the EU next July, with the aim of showcasing Estonia as an innovation-oriented country.

Rapid developments are taking place in the field of self-driving vehicles, and the technology could potentially have a big influence on improving traffic safety, increasing regional mobility and saving the environment, the tender announcement said. The presidency of the EU offers a good opportunity to showcase Estonia as an innovation-oriented country and a pioneer in utilizing solutions with a big social impact.

Read more from ERR News

TeliaSonera and Ericsson to go 5G

TeliaSonera and Ericsson have entered into a strategic partnership to let customers in Stockholm and Tallinn experience 5G services already in 2018.

Based on TeliaSonera and Ericsson’s common understanding of market and customer needs, the two companies will develop 5G use-cases and service scenarios, including both communication and Internet of Things (IoT) services with the purpose to address new business opportunities, the companies announced today. The partnership will bring 5G services to customers in 2018 by combining the TeliaSonera network with Ericsson technology.

“Stockholm and Tallinn are two of the most connected cities in the world and now we will take them to the next level. 5G will create completely new innovations, ecosystems and great services to our customers,” Johan Dennelind, President and CEO TeliaSonera, said in a press release.

Potential 5G applications could include e-health with real time surveillance of patients and remote treatment; connected cars including critical communication between vehicles (warnings, support to self-driving cars etc) as well as better network performance in terms of capacity, coverage and power consumption.

Sweden has long been a pioneer ICT-nation and notably Ericsson and TeliaSonera launched the world’s first 4G network in Sweden in 2009. Estonia has acknowledged the economic importance of a digital society and is one of the most advanced e-societies in the world.

According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, there will be 150 million 5G subscriptions by the end of 2021.

Source: ERR via Estonian Review

Lab in Tartu for researching internet of things

AS Eesti Telekom and the University of Tartu Institute of Computer Science have signed a cooperation agreement to promote the creation of new business ideas based on research and development work in the field of internet of things. For this, the students’ study environment and options will also be developed and in March the UT smart environment lab will be opened.

“Until now, the internet has been mainly used for connecting computers and mobile devices to enable communication between people and e-services, but now more and more objects are also being interfaced via the internet. Smart devices which can be controlled online, for example, lights, security devices, kitchen appliances etc.,” was the explanation to what the internet of things is about given by Head of UT Institute of Computer Science Professor Jaak Vilo.

The so called internet of things enables to create a smart environment at home and at work through devices which know how to operate and which can be controlled centrally over the net.

According to Vilo, the internet of things encompasses several research directions: “Currently it presumes creating a smart environment, all standards and programmed interfaces and it is also more and more about security. In addition, options and needs for financial saving and creating efficient services are coming about.”

In order to work on smart device environments, AS Eesti Telekom will equip a sample smart home and smart office in the Institute of Computer Science where research groups and students will work with the installed technology. The lab will be opened in March 2016.

Head of Development at Eesti Telekom Urmo Lehtsalu said that their company can see a great synergy between the research cooperation with the University of Tartu and the recently announced SmartEnCity project.

“In cooperation with the university we can focus on advanced studies of the interaction of various things and security and with the SmartEnCity project, we can apply this high-tech solution right away in real living environment for people. This way we can offer the biggest aggregated value to ordinary people and be certain that we are providing a solution proven to be good,” said Lehtsalu.

Source: UNIVERSITY OF TARTU via Estonian Review

Completed Mars house presented in Strasbourg

Now that all partners from five countries—Estonia, France, Austria, Belgium and Czech Republic—have filled their part in building the Mars house, constructed for extreme living conditions, the self-erecting house with a unique design is complete. It is very likely that it will be used in future space related experiments.

The international Mars house project began at the beginning of 2013 and Estonians were given a task of great responsibility—creating the technology of the self-erecting house. In January 2015, researchers of the University of Tartu Institute of Technology finished their part of the project and sent the house, which packs and unpacks itself within a few minutes, to France where partners continued to install the interior and life-providing systems.

By now the house, which was named after the challenging living conditions on planet Mars, is complete and it was presented on 15 December in Strasbourg in France at the International Space University. Mars house project manager at UT Institute of Technology Priit Kull said that in all likelihood the Mars house will remain at the International Space University: “Starting next year, the house is on the market, so to say, and then we will see what the market wants of it.”

Kull was hopeful that after the successful completion of the Mars house, the UT team will get new opportunities to participate in similar projects. “There have been some talks, but nothing certain as of yet,” Kull implied.

In its packed form the house is a 6 metres long and 2.4 metres wide box, which weighs 6000 kg and fits on the trailer of a large truck. In a typical mission scenario, the construction can house two people for at least two weeks. The building has all the necessary rooms and its design resembles a classical home: sleeping area, kitchen, bathroom, toilet and work rooms.

Researchers of UT Institute of Technology built the Mars house in the framework of the international SHEE project. The goal of the SHEE project is to develop a planetary habitat testbed for terrestrial analogue simulations. The so called Mars house is well-suited, for example, to use on Earth in disaster areas or in extreme conditions during research work.

Additional information: Priit Kull, Mars house project manager at UT Institute of Technology

Source: UNIVERSITY OF TARTU via Estonian Review

Expenditure on research and development fell last year

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2014 the expenditure on research and development (R&D) in Estonia amounted to 286.7 million euros, which was 12% less than in 2013.

It was somewhat expected that in 2014, R&D expenditure remained on a downward trend as the large investments made in 2010–2012 to start the pilot project in the oil industry led to the exponential increase in total spending on R&D. In 2013, the pilot factory reached the production phase and the share of investments began to decrease. The impact of this was clearly recognizable in 2014.

In 2014, half of R&D expenditure in Estonia came from the State Budget. The share of R&D financing in the total general government expenditure was 1.87%.

The R&D expenditure in non-profit institutional sectors (higher education, government and non-profit private sectors) was 161.9 million euros, which was 5% less than in the previous year. This was mainly influenced by the higher education sector, where spending fell by 8% compared to the previous year.

The R&D expenditure in the business enterprise sector was 124.8 million euros, which accounted for 44% of the total R&D expenditure. Spending decreased by a fifth compared to the previous year mainly at the expense of investments. The share of investments in R&D expenditure in the business enterprise sector was 19%, which is the lowest in the recent years. This is influenced by the overall economic situation, where investment activity had started to decline already in 2013 and in 2014 business investments were a tenth smaller than in the year before.

R&D intensity i.e. the ratio of R&D expenditure to GDP was 1.44% in 2014, which meant a decrease of 0.28 percentage points compared to the previous year. According to Eurostat’s preliminary data, Estonia did not fit into the top ten countries based on the R&D intensity index, but retained its position at the top of the following ten.

Compared to 2013, the R&D personnel in non-profit institutional sectors increased from 7,517 to 7,562. Calculated in full-time equivalents (only by working time spent on R&D) the number of employees increased from 3,789 to 3,998. In full-time equivalents, R&D personnel were nearly half of the total, which means that almost every other person has been looking for extra work. In the business sector, R&D personnel also increased (from 2,767 to 2,930) while in full-time equivalents, the number fell from 2,069 to 1,798. R&D labour costs in the business enterprise sector remained at the same level as in the previous year.

Diagram: R&D expenditure, 2002–2014

Source: Statistics Estonia


Transferwise founders named European Web Entrepreneurs of The Year

The European Commission today announced the winners of the 2015 European Web Entrepreneurs, or Europioneers Awards. Among this year’s winners are Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann from Estonia.

Hindrikus and Käärmann took home the Web Entrepreneur of the Year title, presented by the Vice President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen, and the President of the European Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula. The winners were announced during Slush Conference in Helsinki where the European web entrepreneur community was represented by 15,000 participants, including 1,700 start-ups, 800 investors, and 650 media representatives. The selection of the winners depended on the public voting and jury input.

Europioneers is organized by the European Commission as part of the Startup Europe initiative, in partnership with Deloitte, LEWIS PR and the European Young Innovators Forum. The objective of the competition is to identify and recognise successful European web initiatives, to promote the role web entrepreneurs play in European society, and to encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs. The award were given for the third consecutive year. In 2014 over 300 nominations were received, voted on by over 2000 members of start-up communities.

Käärmann and Hinrikus are the founders of TransferWise, an Estonian developed and UK-based peer-to-peer money transfer service with headquarters in London and offices in Tallinn and New York. More than 3 billion pounds has been transferred through TransferWise to date.

Source: ERR