Competence Centre Programme Estonia Feasibility Study, 2002
What will be the success factors of international competitiveness tomorrow? This question lies at the heart of each country in conditions of a growing global interdependence and competition. Competitiveness is based on the ability to create, transfer and use new and existing knowledge to produce unique products for global markets. In order to be successful, one has to possess attractive resources, as well as the knowledge and skills to use them. Finally, one must be aware of changes on the global market and be flexible towards them.
It is widely understood that research, technological development and innovation (RTDI) are the main factors contributing to any company’s competitiveness in the long-term perspective. The higher the level of economic development that is to be achieved, the more important it becomes to develop new technologies. In economic policy, the importance of supporting technological development and guaranteeing an effective national innovation system is ever growing.
According to the Estonian Research and Development Strategy “Knowledge-based Estonia” 2002–2006, the government foresees knowledge-based economic development as the main challenge for the long-term competitiveness of Estonia. The potential opportunities presented in the strategy relate to the preconditions of a knowledge-driven economy: the development of human resources, the strengthening of relationships between industry and science, the promotion of high-tech. development and its integration with more traditional industries, the stimulation of internationalisation, and an intensification of investment into R&D.
One of the key challenges facing the government is the creation of a predictable and conducive environment for innovation, aiming at more intensive innovative activities and strategic investments into Estonia. The strengthening of the decision-making process, with strong linkages between strategic policy planning, short-term resource allocations, and horizontal policy co-ordination research and analysis playing an important role. In co-operation with the Estonian Technology Agency (ESTAG) under the foundation Enterprise Estonia, we have launched the “Innovation studies” series to build a store of knowledge and know-how to support the decision-makers and fuel the national debate. The series is innovation-related analyses, reports and evaluations commissioned by the ministry and ESTAG.
The current feasibility study for the Competence Centre programme analyses the opportunities of the Estonian Innovation System focusing on the weaknesses and strengths of the science-industry relationship. The task of the research was to examine how could tools like competence centres stimulate the knowledge and technology transfer between academia and the private sector in Estonia. The study answers the question, that the establishment of competence centres in Estonia would intensify technological development and innovation, and therefore contribute to the competitiveness of Estonian enterprises and industry through more intensive technological development and innovation.
The research was carried out by an international research consortium Technopolis Group, which has a longterm experience in the development and evaluation of strategies and policy measures for R&D, innovation and technology transfer. The researchers were focusing on the capabilities of different performers in the Estonian Innovation System, their interrelations and their need and capacity for change and development. The study is based on desk research, in-depth structured interviews and workshops. Interviews and workshops were carried out with representatives from companies, R&D institutions, and public sector stakeholders, as well as with local and foreign experts.