Evaluation of the Centers of Excellence Measure

The study aimed to assess the achievement of the objectives of the first (2008–2015) and second (2014–2020) period of the measure “Supporting Centres of Excellence to Strengthen the International Competitiveness and Excellence of Research”, as well as the effectiveness, impact and role of the measure in Estonian science as a whole. The main conclusions of the evaluation of the action are the following.

The measure is very important in supporting excellence in research, even though it only accounts for about 2% of total public funding for R&D in Estonia.

The measure is relevant as it has met the greatest needs of Estonian researchers.

The measure is effective because it has produced high-quality research.

The measure has had the greatest impact on national cooperation within the research community, on excellence in research, on the next generation of researchers and on the education of society.

The measure is sustainable under certain conditions. Without the action, top Estonian researchers will continue to carry out research using other, project-based research funding opportunities. Existing research teams are also likely to continue to operate on a project basis, but without the Centres of Excellence action, their collaboration will diminish. The same can be said for the next generation.

The measure has been beneficial for researchers, by widening their opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research.

The measure has supported the popularisation of Estonian science.

Proposals for future action are set out in the report.