Overview of Latvian Startup Ecosystem
Latvian ecosystem is small, yet vibrant, it consists of highly motivated multilingual (often with at least 3 languages or more) talented people of various age and backgrounds. The startup environment is dynamic and rapidly growing. To nurture this growth, all important stakeholders have joined hands together.
Latvian startup infrastructure consists of 400+ registered startups, a pool of institutional investors and business angels, a diverse range of modern co-working spaces, dozens of business incubators fuelled by the government, academia and private individuals, as well as an event calendar full of exciting gatherings, productive conferences, hackathons and meetups. The capital city Riga hosts numerous annual Tech & Innovation conferences: the Digital Freedom Festival, iNovuss, Deep Tech Atelier and TechChill. Moreover, a unique Startup Law has been passed and Startup Visa, officially - temporary residence permit, has been created in order to make Latvian startup ecosystem even more vibrant and productive.
Latvian government has particular interest and determination in boosting the development of startup environment, therefore, the support is provided at various stages: ideation & conceptualization, initiation, development and expansion. No matter what stage you have reached – there is a support mechanism just for you! And it is implemented and delivered through Magnetic Latvia Startup (also known as StartupLatvia), which represents a brand under Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA).
The Law creates a favorable tax regime for startups. The law foresees two benefit scenarios: 1) a special flat tax regime, currently 302 euros/month per employee, regardless of salary paid, combined with the 0% individual income tax rate, or 2) 45% co-financing for the highly qualified specialists. Read more on StartupLatvia - Law Benefits website.
Startup visa, officially - a temporary residence permit, is offered to all non-EU startup founders who are willing to come and develop their startup ideas in Latvia. One startup can have up to 5 founders with a startup visa. The application process takes one month. The visa is given for the period of maximum 3 years and it is also issued to the spouse and children. Read more on StartupLatvia - Startup Visa website.
Innovation voucher program is aimed for any-size businesses that develop new products or technologies. The R&D actions supported by the program are the development of a new product or technology, the strengthening of industrial property rights and the certification and testing of new product or technology. Innovation vouchers are up to 85% co-financed in the amount of 25 000 EUR. Read more on StartupLatvia - Innovation Vouchers website.
The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia provides support to public research organizations for commercialization of research results. Among supported activities are: carrying out a feasibility study, preparation of a commercialization strategy, industrial research, experimental development, participation in international exhibitions, contact exchanges, conferences (seminars) abroad, individual visits and participation in national booths and trade missions, preparation of commercialization offers, attraction of experts and other activities. Read more on StartupLatvia - Science Commercialization website.
Visibility for startups and the ability to build and expand their business network are of high importance. Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) is offering an opportunity to reach out to investors, clients, and partners. Startup representatives can attend various events all over the globe, conferences, go on trade missions and get co-financed by the government. Read more on StartupLatvia - Explore the Globe website.
There are 15 LIAA incubators throughout the whole Latvia that support the necessary environment for the set up and development of business by offering training, mentor support and grants, and organizing events on general business issues. Read more on StartupLatvia - Incubators website.
In 2017, the government made a special EUR 15 million acceleration fund (allocated by the European Regional Development Fund during the planning period of EU structural funds 2014-2020) available through ALTUM to support Latvia-based early-stage startups. The fund was then equally divided after a public procurement between three professional funds: Buildit focusing on hardware and the internet of things startups, Commercialization Reactor focusing on deep-tech startups, Overkill Ventures focusing on B2B software startups. There is one more acceleration fund in Latvia - Startup Wise Guys, focusing on B2B Fintech startups. More on StartupLatvia - Acceleration funds website.
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