The European Commission (EC) study Latvian Research Funding System. Final Report recognized the importance of EU funds program and thus the contribution of EU funding to the development of innovation in Latvia, naming the competence centre programme as the most successful support programme.
The objective of the competence centre support program is to raise the competitiveness of enterprises by promoting cooperation between research and industry sectors in the development of industrial research, new products and technologies.
In the recent years, successful co-operation between enterprises and scientific institutions in the development of new products has been observed in Latvia, which has contributed to a reasonably fast increase in merchants’ turnover. For example, successful cooperation between SIA UAVFactory (LLC) and Riga Technical University has resulted in significant progress in improving and testing Penguin C's unmanned aerial vehicle. AS Latvijas Finieris (JSC) in cooperation with the Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry has created a new exportable product from birch-processing products. In turn, SIA SQUALIO cloud consulting (LLC), SIA DPA (LLC) and the Institute of Electronics and Computer Science developed a method for deep neural networks to improve the accuracy and classification of car registration number plates.
At the same time, the European Commission has commended the cluster program professionally developed by the Ministry of Economics and the high quality of its implementation, which is now referred to for other EU Member States as an example of good practice.
To develop a European cluster policy, the EC has for the first time set up a working group and has also invited the Ministry of Economics of Latvia to participate in its work, asking to share experience in developing and implementing an effective cluster support program. MoE has also been invited to participate in the consortium on cluster quality issues in order to decide on the criteria for further certification of cluster quality certificates in the EU.
“The Ministry of Economics welcomes the recognition given by the European Commission which is based on the professional and customer-oriented attitude of the responsible employees, which was observed both during the development phase and the implementation phase of the programs. The ministry is constantly monitoring the implementation of innovation support programs, as well as organizing cooperation between entrepreneurs and research institutes, making improvements in support programs, if necessary, in order to further promote the development of innovative products and increase of the competitiveness of enterprises,” says Raimonds Aleksejenko, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Economics.
At the same time, we would like to inform that in the beginning of April this year, a delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control visited Latvia in order to get acquainted with some of the most prominent Latvian EU fund projects and to learn about Latvia's experience in the management and supervision of EU funds. Three implementers of the projects under the Ministry of Economics - AS Olainfarm (JSC) in Olaine, food producer SIA Kronis (LLC) in Bauska and also the founder of several EU funds - Development Finance Institution ALTUM - were visited during this trip.
AS Olainfarm (JSC) projects are success examples of EU fund investments in the areas of business support and promotion of international competitiveness. Representatives of the European Parliament were introduced with the creation of a new product and a new production line by introducing experimental pharmaceutical production technologies into the company.
SIA Kronis (LLC) introduced representatives of the European Parliament to the two ongoing studies carried out within the framework of the Latvian Food Industry Competence Centre, which will lead to the development of finished products and sauces in innovative packaging for global markets and create an innovative approach to product research and adaptation to new production processes depending on the target market. SIA Kronis (LLC) noted that without the co-financing of EU funds there would be limited possibilities to carry out such research for creation of innovative products. At the moment, the company has attracted additional employees to work on the development of new products, as well as carry out research, purchase new materials, and rent equipment for testing of new products.
In turn, the Development Finance Institution ALTUM introduced the European Parliament's representatives with support projects for small and medium-sized undertakings and support program for increasing the energy efficiency of apartment buildings.
It is well known that the Ministry of Economics is in charge of 20 EU fund programs, of which 15 programs focus on the development of innovation in Latvia with the total investment into economy of Latvia in the amount of EUR 430.6 million.