Latvian success stories

Our scientists keep working and inventing – doing their best to help fight the pandemic, our companies are trying to keep their production outputs and some of them are even growing, they are adjusting to the new reality and being brave enough to start something new. Creative minds are finding new ways to keep in touch with their customers.

These are stories that need to be shared and heard, so find some of them here.

Latvians are doers. So when the crisis hits, there are businesses that manage not only to survive and keep their employees but also adjust, find new opportunities, and even support those who need it.

One of leading grain processors in the Baltic States Dobeles Dzirnavnieks is not only working at its full capacity to meet the demand but also is investing 30 million EUR to build two new plants which will mainly manufacture products for export.

With other companies being closed during Covid-19 crisis, Karavela fish processing company has created 60 new jobs to meet the increased demand for non-perishables. Increase in export of dumplings has been experienced by the meat processing company HKScan Latvia (better known under the brand name Rīgas miesnieks). Other meat processing company Forevers has decided to keep investing 1.1 million EUR in the company’s production capabilities. 

SAF Tehnika has made large-scale wireless body temperature monitoring solution for hospitals battling Covid-19. This allows monitoring vital signs of many patients at the same time and allows for reducing the number of contacts between patients and medical staff.

Latvia-based rental company Storent has launched a contactless online equipment rental platform so that its customers can complete the full cycle of rental process at any time, from anywhere. This means they can remotely register and sign agreements, order and return equipment, make payments and sign documents with Smart-ID or Mobile-ID. This is a novelty in the industry.

Latvian telecom operator Tet, in cooperation with the language technology company Tilde, has launched a Covid-19 information line served by a virtual assistant bot. The service runs on a toll-free number. The bot is able to answer the most common questions about Covid-19, providing easy access to reliable and up-to-date information, while continuing to learn and master the latest topics.

Mint furniture has come up with a new product line “Mint do it yourself”. The products are ready to use but can be improved by sanding, varnishing, oiling, and wood dye. The first products were made for Easter celebration at home: an egg rolling ramp and swings that can be used indoors.

The number of containerised cargoes in Riga port continues to remain steady. Baltic Container Terminal has experienced a decrease of only 10% instead of expected 30% decrease in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Kurzemes Granulas wood pellet producer has been able to increase its production outputs in the first quarter of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019. The most part of its products are being exported, and a significant market for the company remains Italy.

A company from Valmiera Echo Tech has started manufacturing face shields for medics and bodies of the municipality. To help making the much needed equipment they have involved other local entrepreneurs and cooperate with Valmiera Development Agency.

On March 29 the Latvian airline airBaltic performed a special cargo flight to and from Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport in China and brought 900,000 face masks and 80,000 respirators to Latvia. On April 10 airBaltic returned from its second flight from Ürümqi, bringing around one million face masks made in Zhejiang and Jiangsu regions to Latvia.

Balticovo egg producer that is making hand sanitizer for its own needs in mid-March decided to donate the disinfectant to medical institutions, social services, police, rescuers, and educational institutions. 

Several Latvian companies have engaged in ensuring hand sanitizers in the country, among them is Latvijas Balzams that has announced to having increased its production capacity up to 20 tons per day due to high demand.

Brewery and alcohol beverage producer Cēsu alus has also started manufacturing hand and surface sanitiser and is donating part of the production to local hospitals. The popular cosmetics brand Madara Cosmetics has thought about medics too, and developed alcohol-based (70%) MÁDARA PRO hand disinfectant spray in 100 ml bottles to supply hospitals of Latvia.

Cido Grupa supplies drinking water for the doctors working in Covid-19 tents thus being one of the many companies supporting our doctors during the time their work is especially hard and intense.

To support the treatment of Covid-19 patients JSC Olainfarm has made the decision to give Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital 100 000 EUR worth of artificial lung ventilation equipment. The devices are expected to be delivered in May.

Network equipment manufacturer MikroTik has offered to use premises belonging to the company in case they will be needed to set up a temporary hospital.

The companies that are part of Magnetic Latvia Business Incubators might be young but no one can deny their ability to adjust and adapt. They have found new markets and come up with new products even in times like these.

A producer of furniture for offices and kids Platte (Midimini brand) was affected by the decrease in demand from the USA. But the company managed to start a new cooperation with customers from Asia that are easier to reach. The maker of ice hockey, lacrosse and tennis grips Rocketgrip was faced with cancellation of sports events when Covid-19 started but decided to try their luck with fishing rod grips, and the Norwegian cooperation partners have already shown interest in them. Fishboat (Vizion brand) team with their boats is also having success in foreign markets thanks to attending fairs at the end of the last year and at the beginning of this year. Fermentum with HOPALAA beer has also found a way to start exporting as well as provide home deliveries and selling their production online.

As the number of kids’ play houses sold to the local and foreign customers has decreased, LiL HOUSE has decided to rent them for those willing to make their children happy. And the printable educational materials for kids by Armino are especially valuable now when many children are homeschooled.

A number of companies have been able to adjust their production to help provide Latvia with much needed disinfectants and face masks. Among them are laser equipment manufacturer DKRobotics that now sells face shields, Fabr – a company which uses its experience to offer protective shields for face and counters. The developer of an app that helps solving home tasks effortlessly Partly is able to ensure contact free payments and offers disinfection of premises.

The sophisticated girls’ dresses of PataTaTa are amazing when it comes to parties, baptism ceremonies, wedding celebrations, 1st birthday and other special occasions. But during the Covid-19 crisis the company has started sewing face masks for kids. With weddings and other parties being cancelled, Mazliet Romantikas – a company that offers event decors and equipment rent is making face masks to adjust to the current situation.

When it comes to disinfectants, several companies that have done their share:  Rasa Botanicals with its plant extract-enriched disinfectant and PURENN with its product developed using hydrogen peroxide.

With the significance of home deliveries growing, Fresh Terase lounge café started offering take-away, Frenx that runs a pizza restaurant now provides home deliveries but the producer of bio teas Dabas Dots faced with decrease in export together with its partners opened a food delivery platform www.food24.lv.

Lockdown is not a reason for our scientists and entrepreneurs to stop inventing and working. And there are many who manage to excel at this time.

Riga Stradiņš University is developing a joint COVID-19 research platform in cooperation with the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Center and other scientific institutions. It will unite all scientific institutions in Latvia to study the disease. Establishing a bio-bank for COVID-19 patients is considered to be one of top priorities as the collected material can be studied in the future. This helps getting understanding about the biology of the virus and how the body responds to it.

Smartomica, a Latvian biotech company, is working together with global healthcare technology leader MetAdvice to develop a decision-making platform for the coronavirus ARIADNA. The platform will help medical professionals navigate the COVID-19 issues more efficiently.

The winning team of the hackathon “Hackhorce” which came up with a solution for 3D printing of medical supplies has been granted a 100,000 EUR ALTUM loan to cover the future costs of raw materials and manufacturing. The team has already manufactured 10,000 face shields for Latvian medics. 

As countless labs around the wold are currently working on a vaccine against the coronavirus, the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study centre scientists are also doing their share in virus research and development of the vaccine. In a few weeks, it will be clear if their chosen method works or not.

Tourism is one of the industries that has been most directly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. With their customers staying at home, it is hard to keep working. But even now there are businesses that have managed to come up with ideas how to keep helping, accommodating, feeding and entertaining their customers.

Some of the resources below are available in Latvian only, therefore machine translation might be useful.

There is no need to stop organising conferences because of the lockdown. Radisson Blu Latvija Conference and SPA Hotel offers to organise online events with real-time and will make sure their customers won’t have to worry about stage, technical equipment, etc.

When visiting museums is impossible, some are organising online tours and exhibitions.

Museum of Decorative Arts and Design together with Virtual Reality and digital solutions company Vividly invites to enjoy “Samsara” – a selection of works by the internationally recognised artist Skuja Braden in 3D.

Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre provides the opportunity to visit it in a 360° virtual tour, and Riga Motor Museum is posting pictures and stories about antique vehicles. But pictures and facts revealing Latvian history are provided by National History Museum of Latvia.

When restaurants are closed, people still like to enjoy their food. Therefore home deliveries or take-away meals are available for various tastes also outside of Riga – in Tukums, Ventspils, Cēsis, Ventspils, Kuldīga, and Alūksne.

A number of hotels are welcoming people to help them self-isolate.