Tallinn University of Technology

Ragnar Nurkse Department is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary research center that focuses its education and research on socially relevant and future-oriented issues:

  • models and practices of governance and public administration globally;
  • e-governance and digital transformation of societies: designing and delivering public services and state-citizen relations in the digital era; smart cities and digital public services and cross-border collaboration; to achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals;
  • P2P technologies, governance and potential new innovation and production models;
  • fiscal governance and fiscal bureaucracies;
  • science, research and innovation policies and sustainability transitions;
  • philosophy and ethics of science and technology.

Current Research and Innovation Projects

Project type: European Research Council (ERC) funded Starting Grant, 2019-2022, total: ca 1 MEUR

Principal investigator: Prof. Vasilis Kostakis

Short Abstract:

COSMOLOCALISM will document, analyze, test, evaluate, and create awareness of an emerging mode of production, based on the confluence of the digital commons (e.g., open knowledge and design) with local manufacturing and automation technologies (from 3D printing and CNC machines to low-tech tools and crafts). This convergence could catalyze the transition to new inclusive and circular production models, such as the “design global, manufacture local” (DGML) model. DGML describes the processes through which design is developed as a global digital commons, whereas the manufacturing takes place locally, through shared infrastructures and with local biophysical conditions in check. DGML seems to form economies of scope that promote sustainability and open innovation while celebrating new ways of cooperation. However, such claims rest on thin conceptual and empirical foundations.COSMOLOCALISM is a pilot-driven investigation of the DGML phenomenon that seeks to understand relevant organizational models, their evolution, and their broader political economy/ecology and policy implications. Through the lens of diverse case studies and participatory action research, the conditions under which the DGML model thrives will be explored.COSMOLOCALISM has three concurrent modules: democratization; innovation; and sustainability. First, DGML governance practices will be studied, patterns will be recognized, and their form, function, cultural values, and structure will be determined. Second, the relevant open innovation ecosystems and their potential to reorient design and manufacturing practices will be examined. Third, selected DGML products will be evaluated from an environmental sustainability perspective, involving both qualitative and quantitative methods. The interdisciplinary nature of COSMOLOCALISM will explore new horizons to substantively improve our understanding of how to create sustainable economies through the commons.

More information: https://www.cosmolocalism.eu

Project type: European Commission H2020 funded R&D project, 2020-2024, total: 394 000 EUR

Principal investigator: Dr. Veiko Lember

Short summary: With the industrial revolution, technology was introduced to society, creating significant economic benefits to regional and national economies. However, globalisation resulted in European cities losing a large volume of their manufacturing capacity, transitioning into a knowledge economy. As a consequence, manufacturing jobs have decreased and neglected industrial areas have fallen into decay. The EU-funded CENTRINNO project aims to develop and demonstrate strategies, approaches and solutions for the regeneration of industrial historic sites and areas as creative production and manufacturing hubs that stay true to the ecological challenges of our time. The areas will also boost a diverse, inclusive and innovative urban economy and use heritage as a catalyst for innovation and social inclusion.

More information:

Project type: European Commission H2020 funded R&I project, 2021-2024, total 210 000 EUR

Principal investigator: Prof. Vasilis Kostakis

Short Abstract: The educational commons concept relies on the idea that an educational system ensures the free availability of teaching and learning resources to teachers and students. The EU-funded SMOOTH project will focus on social inclusion and examine if the educational commons can operate as a catalyst to inverse inequalities in education. By performing cross-cutting and cross-disciplinary analysis of educational commons, the SMOOTH project aims to propose an innovative action programme engaging children to reverse inequalities that children of vulnerable social groups face. This approach will reinforce intercultural and intergenerational dialogue and social integration, develop essential social and personal skills for both children and adults, establish spaces of democratic citizenship, and build and support the community through differences. 

More information: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101004491

Project type: European Commission Erasmus+ funded project, 2020-2023, total 223 515 EUR

Principal investigator: Prof. Vasilis Kostakis

Short Abstract: Recently, children have shown themselves to be active, critical and complex interveners in public life through environmental and planetary protection activities. Strengthening of the status of children, promotion and actualization of their image as ‘capable social actors’ requires an effective educational environment, commons-oriented, with highly skilled teachers able to create elastic, adaptive and smooth educational conditions. Erasmus+ funded ComPra aims to enable university students on Education Sciences, Social Sciences and Communication to explore values and practices of commons pedagogy. Through the development of Short-cycle training courses on “Commoning Practices”, based on a blended learning scheme, university students will gain theoretical and practical knowledge about innovative methodologies and tools leading to the development of a commons-based educational environment helping children to act as “commoners”. 

More information: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/projects/eplus-project-details/#project/2020-1-EL01-KA203-079219

Project type: European Commission H2020 funded R&D project, 2018-2022, total: 162000 EUR

Principal investigator: Dr. Tarmo Kalvet

Short summary: Catching-Up along the global value chain: business models, determinants and policy implications in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a project built on a multidisciplinary and multi-sectorial exchange program focused on unravelling the process of Catching-Up from different sectorial perspectives at a country level. It analyses the role of business models (BMs) in entering, learning and upgrading the Global Value Chain (GVC), aiming at recognising the determinants and challenges faced by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in tackling the process of upgrading in a globalising economy. The outcome of the project will be the definition of policy tools and frameworks to support effective policy-making actions in the implementation of Research and Innovation Smart Specialization Strategy (RIS3), with respect to the new agenda of Europe 2020, mainly for low-income EU countries.

More information: https://www.catchain.eu

Project type: EU LIFE Europe, duration 2023 – 2026

Principal investigator: Dr. Chris Giotitsas

Short description: LIFE-COMET aims to perform a comprehensive and holistic assessment, experience exchange from best practices, as well as significant advocacy efforts in order to achieve a shift towards the desired transformation of the enabling frameworks. The main objective is to create community energy (CE) coalitions which will foster the collaboration of key stakeholders. They will engage in a series of actions with the aim of simplifying the procedures and creating better conditions through collective advocacy efforts, thus enabling and stimulating the citizens to participate in the CE projects. Activities will provide tailor-made solutions and concrete technical, legal and administrative support, while also developing shared tools to support the development of starting energy communities.


 -Form community energy coalitions by identifying, engaging and empowering relevant national CE stakeholders.

 -Explore local specificities to create a better understanding for CE-related engagement and then create favorable framework conditions and improved market conditions through coalitions’ advocacy, development of tools, methodologies and technical support for catalyzing new CE initiatives.

 -Build on top of and complement the existing networks, platforms and projects with an innovative and comprehensive approach to tackling the specificities of CE hurdles in Eastern EU. 

 -Replicate and disseminate the developed tools, methodologies, experiences and business models, thus scaling up the impact and further increasing the number of CE initiatives in this region.

More info on the project's website: https://lifecomet.rescoop.eu/

Our research and innovation projects have been previously funded by the European Commission’s Framework Programmes (FP7 and H2020) and territorial cooperation programmes (Interreg) e.g.:

  • BIO-ADDVAL: Analyses of the Economic Situation and Perspective of the Estonia´s Bioeconomy and its sectors, 2018-2021 (PI: Prof. Erkki Karo), see more:  https://taltech.ee/biomajandus

  • CAP4CITY: Strengthening Governance Capacity for Smart Sustainable Cities, 2018-2021 (PI: Prof. Robert Krimmer)

  • TROPICO: Transforming into Open, Innovative, and Collaborative Governments, 2017-2021 (PI: Prof. Tiina Randma-Liiv), see more: https://tropico-project.eu

  • TOOP: The Once-Only Principle Project, 2017-2020 (PI: Prof. Robert Krimmer), see more: 

  • Coordination instruments at the center of government: opportunities and limitations of temporary task forces, 2017-2020 (PI: Dr. Külli Sarapuu)

  • Internet Voting as Additional Channel for Legally Binding Elections: Challenges to Voting Processes Re-engineering, 2017-2020 (PI: Prof. Robert Krimmer)

  • Sohjoa Baltic: Promoting the usage of urban public transportation including automated electric minibuses (robot buses) as part of the public transport chain especially for first/last mile trips, 2017-2020 (PI: Associate Prof. Erkki Karo), see more: https://www.sohjoabaltic.eu/
  • Open Government Intelligence: Fostering Innovation and Creativity in Europe through Public Administration Modernization towards Supplying and Exploiting Linked Open Statistical Data, 2016-2019 (PI: Prof. Robert Krimmer), see more: http://www.opengovintelligence.eu
  • LIPSE: Learning from innovation in Public Sector Environments (LIPSE), 2013-2016 (PI: Prof. Rainer Kattel), see more: http://lipse.org
  • FESSUD: Financialisation, economy, society and sustainable development, 2011-2015 (PI: Prof. Rainer Kattel), see more: http://fessud.eu
  • COCOPS: Coordinating for Cohesion in the Public Sector of the Future, 2011-2015 (PI: Prof. Tiina Randma-Liiv), see more: http://www.cocops.eu

In addition to the EU Framework Programmes, our research has been funded also by other International funders, e.g.:

  • Innovation and the state: How should government finance and implement innovation policy?, Institute of New Economic Thinking research grant, 2014-2015 (PI: Prof. Rainer Kattel)
  • Understanding policy change: Financial and fiscal bureaucracy in the Baltic Sea Region, Norway-Estonia Research Cooperation Programme, 2014-2017 (PI: Prof. Ringa Raudla)

In Estonia, our research and development activities have been funded by:

  • Estonian Research Council – prior ETAG and ETF personal and institutional grants and applied research projects on Estonian research and innovation systems carried out in the framework of the RITA programme, see more here
  • Ministry of Education and Research – targeted financing, Innovation Policy Monitoring Programme (TIPS) 2011-2015, procurements to evaluate the Estonian research and innovatsioon strategies
  • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications – public procurements to assess the innovation and smart specialization dynamics in Estonia

Information on all R&D projects implemented at RND can be found in the Estonian Research Information System.