The Eesti Pank research award at the doctoral level was awarded to Tarmo Puolokainen for his Doctoral Dissertation on how to measure the performance of emergency services. The prizes in the Master’s category went to Janely Põllumägi for her Master’s thesis on the determinants of credit card ownership and outstanding balance in Estonia, and to Mykola Herasymovych for his Master’s thesis on optimizing acceptance threshold in credit scoring.

The doctoral work that won the award was entitled “Public Agencies’ Performance Benchmarking in the Case of Demand Uncertainty with an Application to Estonian, Finnish and Swedish Fire and Rescue Services” and it measured and compared the performance of Estonian, Finnish and Swedish fire and rescue services. It drew two main conclusions, firstly that the distribution of resources to the emergency services must consider the volatility of demand, and secondly that the share of emergency service brigades that are under-equipped in Estonia, Finland and Sweden is declining, though this needs more detailed research in future as different methods for assessing under-equipping do not always give the same result. Tarmo Puolokainen’s work was recognised in the doctoral category above all for its thorough consideration of the topic, its systemic analysis, and its innovative research methods. The practical outcome of his study is a new approach to improving management decisions in public sector institutions.

The strength of Janely Põllumägi's thesis “The Determinants of Credit Card Ownership and Outstanding Balance” was its good level of empirical analysis, which applied a Heckman model to assess the use of credit cards. This modelling approach made it possible to analyse separately the determinants affecting credit card ownership and the factors influencing outstanding balances on credit cards. Mykola Herasymovych’s Master’s thesis “Optimizing Acceptance Threshold in Credit Scoring using Reinforcement Learning” stood out particularly for its use of innovative methods of analysis. It applied a dynamic reinforcement learning system to analyse credit scores, which has not been used in credit scoring models before.

The Eesti Pank research award in memory of Urmas Sepp is being granted for the 16th time in 2018. The research competition is intended to bring attention to outstanding research work, to encourage scientific work in economics, and to promote studies that can lead to academic degrees. Since 2011 the award has been granted in two categories, one for research leading to a PhD thesis or done as part of doctoral studies, and the other for research leading to a Master’s dissertation or done as part of a Master’s course.

Urmas Sepp (1956–2002) was the head of the Eesti Pank Macroeconomics Department, later the Research Department, from 1993.