In early July, researchers will be able to apply for support for projects that seek solutions to problems caused by the spread of coronavirus and to mitigate its consequences. A total of 2.1 million euros is to be distributed and the projects must be completed by the end of 2021.
Mailis Reps, the Minister of Education and Research, said that the crisis caused by coronavirus clearly shows how important it is to involve scientists in order for us to better understand the crisis and mitigate its effects. “Scientists in Estonia have already made a significant contribution to studying the virus and are continuing to do so,” she said. “These funds during the state of emergency is recognition of their work. That said, it is clear that the funding of science from the state budget must continue to grow.”
The call for proposals is aimed at further developing existing research results or finding and testing new uses. The areas being covered in the round of applications were chosen on the basis of ideas posited in response to a call from the Estonian Research Council. The development of prototypes for innovative solutions, products and services will be supported in five areas: materials and surface treatment agents inhibiting the spread of the virus; new types of personal protective equipment; technological solutions for the reduction of virus particles in indoor air; technological solutions to reduce the workload on the health care sector; and solutions based on data analysis to assess the spread of the virus and to predict the impact of measures. The projects should start in autumn and achieve results by the end of 2021.
The application round is being organised by the Estonian Research Council. The terms and conditions are currently being prepared with the ministry. More detailed information will be available in the first half of June. Representatives of those from the business sector and ministries who will potentially be able to implement the development projects will participate in the evaluation of the projects alongside representatives of the Ministry of Education and Research.
The funding for the call for proposals will come from the supplementary state budget. A total of 4 million euros was allocated to science from the supplementary budget approved by the Riigikogu on 15 April. In addition, the allocated funds will support the development activities of the third-level bio-laboratory – i.e. a laboratory suitable for coronavirus research – at the University of Tartu’s Translational Medicine Centre and the participation of Estonian scientists in joint Nordic research related to the virus.
The state has allocated a total of 8.1 million euros to research and development related to the coronavirus crisis. Of this, 1.8 million euros was allocated for the launch of the COVID-19 monitoring system led by the University of Tartu and 0.3 million euros for studies of antibodies. The RITA programme allocated 2 million euros for research into COVID-19.