University of Tartu is building a high-level research team to develop digital public services

Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies of the University of Tartu received the ERA Chair grant of 2.5 million euros from the European Union to develop a world-leading research team on e-governance, public e-services and to advance e-governance innovation in Estonia.

Estonia has been at the forefront of digital transformation of the public sector for more than ten years and its X-road platform has become the foundation for the e-governance system in several countries. Founded in 2016, Center of IT Impact Studies (CITIS) based at the Skytte Institute has been a valuable partner to the Estonian government and entrepreneurs in developing and improving many digital services, from e-voting to increased efficiency of the labour market or tax data system.

The EU grant enables recruiting a high-level researcher who will lead rebuilding CITIS into a top-level research team, which will support the state in developing future e-services, using available ICT, social, economic, and legal data. The aim of the team will be to maximise the social and economic benefits of digital transformation while minimising potential security and privacy risks.

Dr Mihkel Solvak, leader of CITIS, estimates that by using already existing data more efficiently Estonia could be the first in the world to transition to the third generation of e-governance, i.e the predictive e-services based on using real-time data. This would enable improving the quality of e-services and decrease the time and cost, not to mention directly meet the needs of the state, the citizens and the entrepreneurs, he said.

In addition to research, the team will contribute to teaching activities in the university as well as provide training for the public and private sector to increase awareness and knowledge of the benefits and applicability of digital services and to increase the experts in the field of e-governance.

The project is funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the ERA Chairs instrument. ERA Chair projects bring outstanding academics, with proven research excellence and management skills, to universities with potential for research excellence.

The Institute is currently looking for the suitable team leader and the new research team is set to start working in September 2020.
More information: Mihkel Solvak, Director of the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, mihkel.solvak@ut.ee


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