Returning researcher grant

When may a grant be applied for?                                 Frequently asked questions
What are applications evaluated on?                           Documents and results


There will be no more calls for applications from the Mobilitas Pluss programme. You can find information on the 2021 returning researcher grant call here


Programme activities are carried out by the Estonian Research Council in accordance with Decree No. 481 of the Minister of Education and Research of 30 December 2015. It lays down the conditions for the provision of grants under the ‘Internationalisation of research and support for mobility and the next generation’ or Mobilitas Pluss programme.

The budget for Mobilitas Pluss is 35 373 770 euros, 83.5% of which is covered by the European Regional Development Fund.

The programme aims to:

  • improve the international visibility of Estonian research, business and higher education and Estonia’s attractiveness as a destination country for study and research;
  • strengthen the international competitiveness of Estonian researchers and research performing organisations, including companies;
  • support opportunities for Estonian research institutions and companies to collaborate with transnational research organisations and networks, including through synergy with Horizon 2020 actions;
  • expand international collaboration and professional development opportunities for the state, R&D institutions, higher education institutions, companies, students and academic staff by improving intersectoral and international mobility and cooperation (opportunities).

What do we support?

We support the return to Estonia of researchers who have been working outside Estonia for at least two years (returnee). The prerequisite is post-doctoral research completed abroad or research carried out to at least the same level. Five calls for proposals aim to bring approximately 60 researchers to Estonia.

What is the objective for the grant?

The grant is provided with the aim of balancing and encouraging the circulation of minds through returning researcher grants. The Estonian state attaches importance to the return of researchers who have gone abroad to work, in order to facilitate the application of knowledge and experience acquired abroad in Estonia.

What is the amount of the grant?

The amount of the grant depends on the amount of personal research grants issued for post-doctoral researchers from the state budget and is defined in Annex 2 to the directive on Mobilitas Pluss. The final beneficary of the grant is an Estonian R&D institution, company or higher education institution hiring returning researchers who have come from abroad. The grant is subject to an own contribution requirement of 5% by the host institution.

The grant amounts for the 2020 call are:

54 000 €/per year for experimental projects (direct costs 43 200 euros, indirect costs 10 800 euros);

51 000 €/per year for non-experimental projects (direct costs 40 800 euros, indirect costs 10 200 euros);

5 500 €  for relocation support for projects that last for two years (in case the returning researcher has not lived, studied or worked in Estonia within 180 calendar days immediately prior to the closing of the call for applications);

4000 € for relocation support for projects that last less than two years (in case the returning researcher has not lived, studied or worked in Estonia within 180 calendar days immediately prior to the closing of the call for applications).

The salary fund and relocation allowance include any taxes laid down in Estonian legislation.

How long is the period of the grant?

The minimum grant period is 12 months and the maximum period is 24 months.

Implementation of the returning researcher project should commence within six months after the decision to grant the application, unless a different agreement has been negotiated with good reason. The grant period will commence on the date specified in the grant agreement.

What are the requirements for the applicant?

In the case of the grant for researchers returning to Estonia, final recipients include R&D institutions, companies and higher education institutions hiring researchers who have completed their post-doctoral research abroad or have conducted research at a comparable level. The returning researcher has to work full-time for the host institution during the project and with the place of work in Estonia.

Specific requirements for enterprise

Private enterprises can apply for the grants just like public research organisations, but private enterprises must comply with the state aid rules and provide additional information on this matter. Support given for private enterprises is preferrably de minimis state aid, but if the applicant has already received support above the de minimis state aid limit, the support will be given according to the General Block Exemption rules. You can find more information here: Private enterprises must upload the following form to the applications on the tab „additional information“: State aid form (in Estonian)

When may a grant be applied for?

The next call for applications will be opened in the beginning of 2020. The application instructions and application form will be published on the day of the announcement of the call for proposals at the latest. Applications can be submitted via Estonian Research Portal ETIS. In order to fill in the application in ETIS one needs to create a personal account. This can be done by contacting the host institution. Application is successfully submitted when it is confirmed by the host institution.

What are applications evaluated on?

An application meeting the requirements is evaluated by the Estonian Research Council involving independent experts. Applications are evaluated based on the following selection criteria:

  • justification and scientific quality of the application (methods, expected results, including particular field-specific or application related characteristics, etc);
  • the qualifications of the returning researcher and the capacity to implemen the project;
  • sufficiency of the infrastructure, budget and cost-efficiency of the returning researcher’s project;
  • impact of the project on achievement of the objectives of the measure, on the development of Estonian society and economy, and horizontal themes.

Applications are evaluated based on selection criteria on a scale of 1 (non-satisfactory) to 5 (excellent). Evaluation is provided with the precision of 0.5 points. The cumulative score is made up of the weighted average for the selection criteria. Weights are indicated in the evaluation instructions.

Evaluation of applications will result in a ranking. Applications meeting the requirements are subject to funding based on the ranking, until the funds allocated for grants during the call for proposals have run out.

Applications with a cumulative score below 3.5 will not be funded. In the case that an application has received an affirmative funding decision, we will conclude a trilateral grant agreement between ETAG, the final recipient and the returning researcher.

The corresponding decision on the application will be sent to the host institution and the returning researcher through ETIS. A decision on granting or rejecting an application will be sent to the host institution within 10 working days of making the decision.


Margus Harak, PhD
Senior Adviser of the Mobilitas Pluss Programme
+372 731 7343