Research and experimental development (R&D) comprise creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications. Research and experimental development covers:

basic research — theoretical or experimental work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundations of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular application or use in view;

applied research — original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective;

experimental development — systematic work drawing on existing knowledge gained from basic or applied research which is directed to producing new or substantially improved materials, products, devices, to installing new or substantially improved processes, systems and services.


The activities to be excluded from R&D are:

Activities connected with scientific and technical information — collecting, translating, analysing, disseminating such information, bibliographic, patent or license services (except when carried out solely for the purposes of a specific R&D project).

General purpose data collection, processing and analysis in the field of natural and social phenomena (normally, only the state has the needed resources), such as topographical mapping, routine geological, hydrological and meteorological surveying, as well as regular statistical surveys. When data are specially collected as part of the R&D project or primarily for the purpose of R&D project, the activities should be attributed to R&D. Data collected for other or general purposes (as for example, the Labour Force Survey) should be excluded from R&D even if exploited for research. Market surveys should never be included in R&D.

Testing and standardisation — the maintenance and calibration of national standards, routine testing and analysis of materials, products, processes, soils or atmosphere.

Feasibility studies of proposed engineering and social projects based on already existing methodology. However, feasibility studies on research projects are part of R&D.

Specialised health care concerning routine investigation and normal application of medical knowledge. There may, however, be an element of R&D, especially in university hospitals, where the newest experimental methods are used. If it is a part of research project then it is included in R&D.

Patent and license work, excluding patent work connected directly with R&D projects.


Institutional sectors — according to international methodology, the R&D performing units are grouped into four institutional sectors:

business enterprise sector — all enterprises, organisations and institutions whose primary activity is the market production of goods or services (other than higher education) for sale at an economically significant price; the sector includes also private non-profit institutions mainly serving them;

higher education sector — all universities, and other educational institutions providing higher education and all institutions under their direct control or associated with them (research institutes, clinics, scientific centres), whatever their source of finance or legal status;

government sector — all departments and offices financed by the state or municipalities whose primary activity is not the market production of goods and services and which do not belong to the higher education sector; the sector includes also private non-profit institutions mainly financed by government;

private non-profit sector — non-profit associations, societies, foundations and their scientific units (excluding those mainly financed by government or serving enterprises).

The term non-profit sectors is used for the last three sectors in order to distinguish them from the business enterprise sector.


Sources of funds — to follow the financial flows between the economic sectors, the classification of the sources of funds coincides with that of economic sectors, however, the fifth one is added to cover foreign sources:

government — basic or special financing from the government as well as from municipal budgets, funds received from foundations financed by the government (incl. grants), own funds of institutions of the government sector (from the sale of products or services, leasing of rooms, etc.);

business enterprise sector — enterprise’s own funds, payments received from other enterprises for services or on contract basis, etc;

private non-profit sector — payments received from private non-profit institutions for services or on contract basis, etc.; own funds of private non-profit institutions;

universities and higher schools — payments received from universities and higher schools and from scientific institutions associated with them for services or on contract basis, etc.; own funds of universities and higher schools;

foreign capital — funds received from international foundations or on the basis of international agreements, payments received from abroad for services or on contract basis.


Employee — person who sells his or her labour to an employer (has an employment relationship with the employer) and in return receives remuneration in money (wages and salaries, fee, piecework pay, compensation). The employee is engaged in R&D if at least 10% of his working time is spent on R&D tasks.

The R&D personnel can be divided into the following three categories:

researchers — all professionals with an academic degree or higher education diploma engaged in basic or applied research or experimental development to create new knowledge, products, processes, methods and systems; all academic staff engaged in R&D activities, as well as managers and administrators engaged in planning and management of the scientific and technical aspects; postgraduate students and persons attending doctor’s courses, who perform original research. Persons who are occupied as researchers but whose educational level is lower, performers of routine analysis, bibliographers, programmers, etc. should be classified as technicians;

technicians — persons with vocational or technical education engaged in R&D activities and performing the tasks under the supervision of researchers; the same applies to persons who perform their R&D tasks under the supervision of researchers in the field of social sciences and humanities;

supporting staff includes craftsmen, secretarial and clerical staff participating in R&D projects or directly associated with such projects.

The R&D personnel do not include security guards, cleaners, caterers, bookkeepers, personnel executives, librarians, IT-personnel, equipment maintenance personnel, etc. If employees in the listed categories provide services to R&D units, then their corresponding labour costs must be regarded as other current costs.


Full-time equivalent (FTE) — working time spent on R&D by R&D personnel in person-years. A university teacher must divide his working hours between teaching and research, as well as an employee in enterprise must divide his working time between the production work and research. The value of FTE is based on estimation and it lies between zero and one. It can be one only in case the person is fully engaged in R&D during the whole working time.


Expenditures devoted to R&D. With respect to expenditures, the intramural expenditure is measured, i.e. the expenditure on the research and experimental development, which are performed within each statistical unit by its employees. Otherwise, the data would be doubled as both the performer and the customer will record the amount. The extramural expenditure, i.e. the expenditure devoted to R&D and performed outside the statistical unit, is of interest only in the case of the business enterprise sector, as it allows to follow the connections and co-operation between enterprises and scientific institutions, and is one of the indices of the innovativeness of enterprises. If there is a reference just to R&D expenditure for a country or an economic sector in publications, one can be sure that only intramural expenditure is included.







The statistical survey “Research and experimental development” consists of two separate parts included in different questionnaires. One covers the non-profit institutional sectors, the other one refers to the business enterprise sector. The principles to form the frame of the survey are also different.

The frame of the survey for business enterprise sector is based on the list of R&D performing enterprises whose R&D activities are detected in the financial statistics survey. The list is continuously updated with the enterprises receiving financing from the Science Foundation and Enterprise Estonia, the enterprises showing R&D expenditure in their yearly report and with the information from other sources. The sampling is total for enterprises with 20 and more employees and random stratified sampling is used for enterprises with less than 20 employees. The questionnaire was sent to all enterprises, which in previous years had reported of R&D expenditure. Such an approach allows using the same weights for R&D survey as in the financial statistics survey. Enterprises, the main activity of which was R&D and which were not originally in the sample, are also included in the sample. The survey for business enterprise sector was launched in 1998 but the enterprises whose main activity is financial intermediation were covered with survey only since 2003.

The frame of the survey for non-profit sectors is based on a continuously updated list of R&D performing units, comprising scientific institutions, universities and higher schools, associations and societies and other institutions (museums, archives, etc.). The sources for updates are the data about the main activity taken from the statistical profile of the Statistical Office, the list of grants from the Science Foundation, the data on scientific institutions from the Ministry of Education and Science and other information (including information from the Environmental Investment Centre and the Enterprise Estonia).

The data from non-profit sectors based on international methodology are collected by the Statistical Office since 1994.

The data on expenditure reported by R&D performing units are mostly based on estimations as there is no legal basis to perform separate accountancy for R&D.

The methodology of statistics on R&D is based on “Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys on Research and Experimental Development: Frascati Manual”, last version of this manual was published by OECD in 2002. Among others the manual include internationally used classification of the fields of science and technology.







Fields of science and technology (by OECD)



Natural sciences


Mathematics and computer sciences (hardware development should be classified in the engineering fields)


Physical sciences (incl. astronomy, space sciences, physics, etc.)


Chemical sciences


Earth and related environmental sciences (geology, geophysics, mineralogy, physical geography, meteorology, atmospheric sciences, oceanography, vulcanology, paleoecology, etc.),


Biological sciences (biology, botany, bacteriology, microbiology, zoology, entomology, genetics, biochemistry, biophysics, etc., excluding clinical and veterinary sciences)


Engineering and technology


Civil engineering


Electrical engineering and electronics (incl. communication systems, hardware, etc.)


Other engineering sciences (mechanical engineering, equipment-building, technology of manufacturing, technology of food production, geodesy, industrial chemistry, etc.)


Medical sciences


Basic medicine (anatomy, cytology, physiology, pharmacy, toxicology, immunology, pathology, etc.)


Clinical medicine (anaesthesiology, paediatrics, gynaecology, surgery, dentistry, neurology, psychiatry, radiology, therapeutics, otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology, etc.)


Health sciences (social medicine, hygiene, nursing, epidemiology, public health services)


Agricultural sciences


Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and allied sciences


Veterinary medicine


Social sciences






Educational sciences


Other social sciences (anthropology, ethnology, demography, geography, town planning, management, law, linguistics, political sciences, sociology, but physical anthropology, physical geography and psychophysiology should normally be classified with natural sciences)




History (together with archaeology, numismatics, palaeography, genealogy, etc.)


Languages and literature


Other humanities (philosophy, history of science, arts, history of art, art criticism, religion and theology, creativity subjects, etc.)







Teadus- ja arendustegevus. Research and Development. Yearbook

Eesti statistika aastaraamat. Statistical Yearbook of Estonia

Eesti Statistika Kuukiri. Monthly Bulletin of Estonian Statistics






Tiina Pärson

Enterprise and Agricultural Statistics Department

Tel +372 625 9233



Updated: 17.09.2015