DEVELOP! - Start-up Ecosystem

Support programmes:
1) Innovation Voucher
2) Start-up Support Programme
3) Start-up Visa
4) Support for Commercialization of Scientific Research Results

1) Innovation Voucher (in Latvian, Inovāciju vaučeru atbalsta pakalpojumi)

Typical profile of support recipient: micro, small and medium enterprises which create new products and/or technologies. Usually the company is looking for assistance in conducting a range of related studies (e.g. industrial research, technical study, etc), as well as support in new product testing/prototyping.

The programme seeks to support innovation in micro, small and medium enterprises through technology transfer, whereas existing products and/or technologies are substantially improved or new ones are created. In such way, the programme contributes into existing Smart Specialisation Strategy of Latvia.

The programme provides up to EUR 25,000 worth support to each recipient, with 60% financing intensity, into the following areas:

  • Technical and economic feasibility study
  • Industrial research
  • Experimental design and elaboration, including prototyping
  • Product industrial design
  • New project or technology testing and certification
  • Industrial property rights for inventions (patents), designs samples and topography of semiconductor products

The overall programme budget is EUR 3,741,885.

To know more about the programme, please reach out to:
jautajumi@liaa.gov.lv

2) Start-up Support Programme (in Latvian, Jaunuzņēmumu darbības atbalsta programma), as described by Law on Aid for the Activities of Start-up Companies – further on, “Start-up Law”.

Typical profile of support recipient: a start-up company with established team and defined product, with high growth potential and scalable business model. Usually, this start-up is seeking for financing and strategic advice regarding the future development.

The programme promotes establishment of start-up companies in Latvia.

The Start-up Law creates a clear framework of how start-up companies are supported. The Law highlights are summarized as follows:

  • Legal definition of a start-up: “a capital company with a high growth potential the basic activity of which is related to the development, production or improvement of scalable business models and innovative products” (see Start-up Law, Section 1)
  • It lists down three support mechanisms which qualifying start-ups can avail of (see Start-up Law, Sections 6, 7 and 8)
    • EUR 259 fixed payment for start-up employees into State Social Insurance budget; computed as 34.09% of two minimal salaries (EUR 380 x 2) instead of the whole brutto salary;
    • Co-financing aid for attracting highly qualified employees (co-financing intensity 45%);
    • Relief (up to 100%) of income tax both personal and corporate.
  • It names all the criteria which a start-up should meet, in order to qualify for the listed suport (see Start-up Law, Section 4), of which the most important are:
    • Capital investment of minimum EUR 30,000 by a qualified venture capital investor (Start-up Law, Section 5 defines what investor qualify);
    • Start-up registered not more than 5 years ago, with netto turnover of less than EUR 5 million over last 5 years, with netto turnover of less than EUR 200,000 over the last 2 years;
    • No profit distribution (dividends), no reorganization and no changes in equity structure (except that related to venture capital investment) since Start-up registration;
    • Start-up has at least one of the following three innovative features: (a) intellectual property rights for an innovative product or service; (b) minimum 70% of employees hold MSc or PhD diplomas; (c) minimum 50% of expenses since registration represent Research and Development costs.  

To know more about the programme, please reach out to:
Ms. Olga Babina
olga.babina@liaa.gov.lv

3) Start-up Visa

Typical profile of support recipient: a foreign citizen who is willing to come to Latvia and lead a Latvia-based start-up.

Residence permit (we also call it “start-up visa”) was created for the benefit of those individuals who want to come to (or already are in) Latvia and be part of the founding team or the management board of a Latvia-based start-up.

Conditions for Receiving Start-up visa:

The Immigration Law, Section 23 (1) 33 stipulates the following:

A person can apply for a maximum 3-year residence permit, if he/she plans to found/develop a start-up in Latvia, and if the following criteria are fulfilled:

  1. Within first 3 months after the residence permit is issued, the person becomes a member of the board of a Latvian start-up which is not older than 1 year.
  2. Qualifying Venture Capital investor* invest in the said start-up at least EUR 30,000 within first 6 months after the residence permit is issued, and at least EUR 60,000 – within first 18 months.

As soon as any of the above conditions is not met, the residence permit may be revoked.

*Qualifying VC: as per Start-up Law, Section 5

Application Package

The Conditions on Residence Permit, points 28, 29 and 48.1 provide further information on what documents an application package includes:

  • Description of the innovative product which the person is intending to create/develop/implement in Latvia; it is submitted in free form
  • Passport (or valid travel document)
  • Application form (download here)
  • 1 passport size photo
  • Criminal record clearance – not needed for applicants coming from the following list of countries (e.g. USA, Australia, etc)
  • Document confirming the necessary subsistence
  • Document confirming the envisaged place of residence in Latvia
  • Confirmation of application fee payment

The person who applies and receives a residence permit can also avail of residence permit for his/her spouse and children.

Submission & Review process:

All documents can be submitted either in 1) The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, if the person is in Latvia, or 2) Embassy of Latvia in the country of person’s origin/residence, if the person applies outside of Latvia. Upon submission of documents, the review will take 30 days (regular process) or 10-15 days (fast-track). Once review is complete and if the decision is positive, it takes 2-10 days to receive the residence permit – that is, visa.

To know more about the programme, please reach out to:
Ms. Olga Babina
olga.babina@liaa.gov.lv

4) Support for Commercialization of Scientific Research Results (in Latvian, Atbalsts pētniecības rezultātu komercializācijai)

Typical profile of support recipient: scientists who are willing to commercialize their invention. Usually, such person is seeking for mentorship by entrepreneurs and industry experts, as well as guidance on whether invention is demanded by the market.

The programme supports commercialization of the results and innovations achieved by public research organizations, thus contributing into existing Smart Specialisation Strategy of Latvia.

The programme provides up to EUR 300,000 worth support to each recipient, with 90% financing intensity, into the following areas:

  • Technical and economic feasibility study
  • Commercialization strategy
  • Industrial research
  • Experimental design and elaboration
  • Participation in international exhibitions, conferences, seminars abroad, individual visits and participation in trade missions and nationals stalls/booths organized by LIAA
  • Industrial property rights for inventions (patents), designs samples and topography of semiconductor products
  • Preparation of commercialization plan and implementation, in collaboration with industry experts
  • Involvement of experts for dealing with intellectual property licencing

The overall programme budget is EUR 8,039,948.

To know more about the programme, please reach out to:
jautajumi@liaa.gov.lv