Latvia’s life-science sector is highlighted by developed R&D capabilities, established manufacturing infrastructure and strategic geographic location. A very competitive workforce and continued investments in raising productivity levels and fostering R&D related activity contribute to the potential and success of the industry.
The Latvian chemical industry is a cornerstone of today’s economy. History shows that, as early as 19th century, Latvian chemists had made a significant contribution to research. The most prominent scientists of that era were Willem Ostwald, a Nobel Prize laureate in 1909 and acknowledged to be one of the founders of physical chemistry, and Paul Valden who was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize and is a founder of physical organic chemistry. Life sciences became a priority during Soviet times, when some of Latvia’s leading research institutions were established. During that time period Latvia was the principal location for life sciences, with 25% of all new drugs designed and one in four medical products manufactured in Latvia.
The sector is currently ranked 4th by turnover among manufacturing industries in Latvia, with value added growing steadily. As a result of its advantageous geographic location, Latvia has access to both western and eastern European markets. There has been an almost fivefold increase in exports since 2003. The EU is Latvia’s main export partner, followed by Russia.
Of the three Baltic States, Latvia leads the life science sector, with the highest value added in this sector. A very competitive labour force, higher wage-adjusted productivity in almost all sub-sectors and increasing R&D expenditure support the excellent performance of Latvia’s life science sector. The sector is further supported by a high investment rate for tangible assets, which will further increase the productivity of the Latvian labour force.
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