Economics, Education and Science, Estonia, Investments, Technology

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 21.01.2019, 14:36

PM: science should be used more to develop Estonia's economy

BC, Tallinn, 11.01.2018.Print version
Science has a central role to play as the insurer of societal coherence and the developer of the economy, and therefore the work of the state and companies with researchers must also improve, Estonian Prime Minister said, cites LETA/BNS.

According to Ratas, Estonian science is in good shape – it is internationally competitive, forward-looking, and serves society in a number of different ways, spokespeople for the government said.


"It is difficult to overestimate the effect of our national research on the development of language and culture, the effect of the expert opinions of researchers on the attitudes of the broader public or the security of the state," Ratas said in the parliament on Wednesday, providing an overview of the state of research and development.


According to the prime minister, the goal of Estonia's Competitiveness Strategy is to raise the productivity of workers to 80 percent by 2020. According to Eurostat, Estonia has had little luck in recent years with this indicator. "In order to improve the situation, the government, for its part, will make the effort to resolve worries concerning the labor market, education and health care, and to support businesses, but more is needed – a common effort by all of the parties involved," he emphasized.


Ratas said that, on the one hand, low and medium quality value-added products and services are being created and exported and, on the other hand, research by Estonian researchers is often not associated with the development of those same products and services. According to him, much of it has to do with the fact that the pressure by companies on the selection of research topics has been weak. In this way, the utilization of research potential in changing the structure of Estonia's economy into one that is more research-intensive has been underutilized, he added.


"Investments in development activities are expensive, risky and have a long payback time, which is why they tend to be deferred. Under conditions in which wage growth and the labor shortage have reached a critical limit, Estonian companies are increasingly thinking about how to raise productivity with the help of new technologies and knowledge," Ratas said.


According to him, the inclusion of researchers in the creation and development of new products and services must be promoted. "By raising the incomes of researchers and improving working conditions, we can motivate them to pay greater attention to the projects of companies, and state measures will help companies to mitigate the mentioned high risks. The broader public in general will win when it comes to the most capable companies, in the form of better job opportunities as well as tax revenue," Ratas said, adding that it is important that scientific potential is also better used, in terms of the development of the state, when it comes to making national decisions.


According to Ratas, he therefore believes it is important that the message to researchers regarding the expectations of the state, as well as companies, is much clearer than it currently is. "This message does not arise on its own, and it is here that the state can assume a driving role and, in cooperation with the private sector, set clearer priorities," he said.


According to Ratas, the more widespread adoption of new knowledge requires a change in attitudes and values. "A knowledge-based society means the ability to recognize, adjust, adapt and adopt the use of new capabilities. Therefore, we must ourselves become smarter, more clever and creative by stepping out of our comfort zone and not being satisfied with mediocrity. This can only happen if we work together: taking stock of and using the knowledge that exists in our country," he added.

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