Estonian eco-innovation performance has increased steadily throughout 2013-2015. The highest development can be seen in the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard indexes for socio-economic outcomes and eco-innovation activities, which continuously perform above the EU average. Despite these positive trends, Estonia still scores below EU average overall, mostly due to resource-intensive industrial structure, lack of seed funding opportunities for early-stage start-ups and low level of media coverage on eco-innovation subjects.

While in general Estonia does not target eco-innovation in policy documents specifically, the smart specialisation strategy, together with the Estonian research, development and innovation (RD&I) Strategy 2014-2020 and Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020, aim to tackle the major barriers of the Estonian innovation system, which also hold back eco-innovation. The biggest potential for eco-innovation initiatives within the smart specialisation framework arises in the areas of ICT, as an enabler of eco-innovative ICT solutions, and the use of smart technologies for more efficient resource management in the building and energy sectors. The field has seen numerous eco-innovation solutions in the past few years, largely due to initiatives that have raised awareness and the financial support available for companies.

Despite the newness of the term circular economy, the most recent policy initiatives in the field, notably the Estonian National Waste Management Plan 2014-2020, have already adopted the underlying principles of circular economy – for example, aiming to reduce the amount of waste produced and recycling it to the maximum level.

2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Estonia




Green Industry Innovation programme

The Green Industry Innovation programme seeks to strengthen the competence and capacity building both in its public and private sectors through co-operation and exchange of experience with its Norwegian counterparts. Programme is implemented in cooperation with the donor programme partner  Innovation Norway. The aim of the programme is to support partnerships between the ICT sector and major emitting sectors to improve the energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The global green information and communication technology (ICT) trends are changing fast.  The green ICT allows talking about future potential, breakthroughs, first sample projects, a new business model, or rapid uptake on the way to become a mainstream solution.

There is a clear need for support partnerships between the ICT sector and major emitting sectors to improve the energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hence the current programme targets “greening with ICT”, narrowing its strategy to four focus areas and challenges which drive the development of green innovations with international potential. These green innovation horizontal topics are: energy management systems, transport and logistics, manufacturing and trade, e-health.

The programme will be implemented as a grant scheme by supporting enterprises, non-governmental organizations’ and clusters’ initiatives of green innovations and smart green solutions with a significant ICT component. The programme consists of small grant scheme and open calls. The small grant scheme provides funding for the applicants for preparing open call applications and partner search activities. The small grant scheme amount per project is €5,000 - 20,000. The indicative grant amount per project for open call is €200,000 - 500,000.

Barriers and Drivers

Low awareness of green ICT solution, uncertainty concerning advantages and constrained cooperation are the main barriers to motivate entrepreneurs to use more green iCT solutions. Even if the three first barriers are possible to overcome, the scarcity of financial resources would be the last and most complicated obstacle to solve.

The recent developments in R&D and innovation in Estonia show clearly that the real economic/societal need and 'green' alone are the main drivers for eco-innovation, but the most influential driver of solution adoption is the direct or indirect cost saving.

Economic Performance

The current programme will help strengthen economic sustainability. The aim is to maximize through ICT solutions the social and economic potential. With the help with these ICT-solutions different kind of devices, software, data and infrastructure can be integrated and it will lead to increased efficiency of business solutions, economic benefits and social inclusion.

Social Performance

Social sustainability is the core element of economic growth. The deployment of ICT is becoming a critical element for delivering policy objectives like supporting an ageing society, climate change, reducing energy consumption, resource efficiency improving transportation efficiency and mobility. So, in the context of the current programme the digital society shall be envisioned as a society with better outcomes for all.

Environmental Impact

The programme will help to improve environmental aspects. The objective of the programme is to “go green” through optimizing processes and developing smart solutions with the help of ICT.

ICT applications have very large potential to enhance environmental performance across the economy and society. The current programme helps to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency by using ICT applications.

Further Information

Source: the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia

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