Country Guide

Latvia

Latvia
Lauma Sīle

Guest Editor

Lauma Sīle

Operations Lead at TechChill

Lauma Sīle is a part of the team at the Latvian Startup Association, the central startup support organization in Latvia, as well as TechChill foundation, the leading tech conference in the Baltics. Alongside all of that, she is developing some of her own initiatives to educate and inspire others to develop their interest in tech. Examples include creating the “Podcast of Things” by Techie Foundation.


Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind? Nominate a country guest editor.

Disclaimer: all content within the Startup Ecosystem Summary and Editor’s Guide sections is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the guest editor. The guest editor is not responsible for content within the Country Snapshot and Community sections, as much of this content is compiled from external sources and does not necessarily reflect the guest editor’s view.

Startup ecosystem summary

Key Startup Cities

Riga

Connected Country Ecosystems

Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden

Differentiators

  • Easily accessible travel to any EU country
  • Low living costs
  • Entrepreneur-friendly legal regulations, startup visa, innovation vouchers

Challenges

  • Ecosystem is quite fragmented with several organizations
  • Lack of centralization of updated information about the ecosystem

Editor's Guide

Introduction

Latvia is a relatively small country by population, however, it takes this characteristic as a great source of adaptability and agility for growth. The term “startup” has been used more and more recently and we even have a name for it in Latvian: “jaunuzņēmums.” Currently there are more than 400 startups with most focusing on the SaaS, FinTech, and DeepTech sectors. The main organization that unites all startup communities in Latvia is the Latvian Startup Association, which works closely with other significant representatives, such as TechChill, TechHub Riga, Startup Wise Guys, Helve, Change Ventures, EIT, Buildit Latvia, and many more.

The fundraising scene in Latvia’s startup ecosystem has shown that startups here can adapt to any situation and are ready to grow despite the global situation that 2020 has brought upon us. In 2020, our biggest success stories include Juro (EUR 5 million), Lokalise (EUR 5 million), and Giraffe360 (EUR 5 million). The past few years have shown a steady growth trend in investment and we are ready to support and celebrate even more successes in 2021 and beyond. More detailed information and analysis can be found in the Baltic Startup Funding Report by Change Ventures here.

Significant support is also offered by the government, primarily through the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia. LIAA collaborates with the majority of ecosystem representatives to foster the common goal of entrepreneurial development in Latvia. The Investment and Development Agency also takes part in organizing startup visas to invite foreign founders to start their business here, gives out innovation vouchers, and coordinates the support for a newly amended startup law.

Outlook

The startup scene in Latvia has experienced rapid development in recent years. Now more than ever, we hear about our startups becoming success stories and creating products that are disrupting many industries around the world. Although we do not have our own unicorn just yet, we have noticed some very potential candidates that may just break through in the near future.

The investment scene is also showing a steady growth pattern by an increase in total investments received by Latvian startups despite the circumstances that we have experienced in 2020. There is a significant number of startup organizations in Latvia that are currently working alongside the government to make regulations and support mechanisms more efficient. We have already had some great successes by having, for example, the passage of the Startup Law, Startup Visas, Innovation vouchers, etc.

Featured Tech Startups

Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.

Startup Showcase

Editor’s pick of which ‘Featured Startup’ is especially worth following and why.

Longenesis is a medical technology company identifying and unlocking the hidden value of biomedical data to accelerate the novel drug and treatment discovery and provide better help to those of need. It has created an end-to-end environment for biomedical institutions, patient organizations and research partners and sponsors to communicate directly, enabling both safe data curation and compliant, consent-enabled biomedical data utilization for research.

Focus Industries

Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.

FintechFintech is one of the most popular startup industries in Latvia. Approximately 24% of all active startups can be qualified as financial technology companies. Although we are still tackling some regulations that influence the development of the industry, fintech companies in Latvia are not scared to express their needs and talk about the issues that matter to build a strong and developed industry for the future. Fintech stars from Latvia include startups like Mintos, Nordigen, Jeff App, etc.
HardwareLatvians love to build things, and they are quite good at it. Many of the universities in Latvia have opened their own hubs and incubators just to support new product development. Riga Technical University even has a Design Lab that is used for prototyping and testing out new ideas. There are a lot of hardware products, for example, CastPrint, Roboeatz, Fixar Aero and many more.
SaaSThere are so many diverse SaaS companies in our ecosystem and each of them have made sure that they differ with their unique solution. SaaS companies in general have an easier path expanding to international markets, therefore global solutions and initiatives made by Latvians can obtain success in this way. SaaS startups in Latvia are, for example, Lokalise, asya.io, Agroplatforma, etc.

Talent

Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.

  • Technical TalentAdvanced
  • Marketing TalentAdvanced
  • Experienced TalentModerate
  • International TalentAdvanced

Culture and History

Editor’s commentary on how the country’s culture and history have impacted the ecosystem.

Latvia has always embraced technology and innovation, which can be observed both in historical events and current ecosystem traits. For example, jeans, the first spy cameras, the tradition of having a Christmas tree all originated in Latvia. We have always been a solution-oriented population, creating solutions to make our everyday life easier and more efficient. Another interesting characteristic is that as a country, we follow global trends and adapt them to our own ecosystem. Due to the relatively small population, we can adapt or resolve errors very quickly and efficiently when needed to make these international tendencies work for us here. It is also typical that many Latvian entrepreneurs do not start by dominating in the local market, but go international from the start because their ideas that are too big for the local market.

Interested in becoming more involved in this ecosystem and connecting with local ecosystem leaders? Let us know.

Community

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Coworking Spaces/Hubs

Birojnīca (Riga): Birojnīca – for your events and meetings. Presentations. Workshops and training. Lectures and discussions. Media conferences. Events. Source: Birojnīca

OraculeTang Space (Riga): Coworking space in the heart of Riga Old Town. Some of the professionals we expect are freelance creatives, entrepreneurs, start-ups and small business of all interested areas.

TechHub Riga (Riga): TechHub Riga is a community of new technology startups who can meet, work, learn, and collaborate! They are the home of 20+ startups and a host of various events.

Teikums (Riga): Coworking and event spaces located at the smart Jaunā Teika district. An open and vibrant space for flourishing of businesses, personalities and ideas.

The Mill Riga (Riga): Coworking and event space for creative minded people to collaborate and create greater value and fast growing businesses.

Venture Faculty (Riga): We build the community where startups, investors, and corporates could find a partner, a client, an investor, an opportunity. Source: Venture Faculty

Workland Riga (Riga): Provides an alternative to traditional office space rental where any kind of working style is supported, be it short term or long, fixed or flexible, although the focus is on the latter of these.

Government Programs

Innovation Voucher Latvia: Innovation Voucher by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia drives industry and research communities together to support one another and foster entrepreneurial development.

Startup Law Latvia: Offers support for early-stage companies to decrease social tax and co-finance highly qualified talents.

Startup Visa Latvia: Supports foreign founders that want to develop their business ideas in Latvia.

Non-Government Organizations

Latvian Startup Association: Unites Latvian startups and the startup communities around common values in order to represent joint interests, speak in one voice and educate society about startups in Latvia.

TechChill: Helps Latvian and Baltic startups succeed in the world by filling the gaps in knowledge, skills, and network. In practice, TechChill invites the best people from different fields to visit Riga for the TechChill Conference and go around the world promoting Latvian and Baltic companies and ecosystems. (Source: TechChill)

TechHub Riga: A community of new technology startups who can meet, work, learn, and collaborate! They are the home of 20+ startups and a host of various events. (Source: TechHub Riga)

Universities

Riga Business School (Riga): Key degrees: Bachelor of Business Administration, Baltic IT Leadership Bachelor Program

Riga Technical University (Riga): Key degrees: Bachelor in Entrepreneurship and Management, Bachelor in Organization and Management of International Economic Relations

SSE Riga (Riga): Key degree: Bachelor in Economics and Business

University of Latvia (Riga): Key degrees: Bachelor in Business Administration, Bachelor in Modern Language and Business Studies

Country Snapshot

Economy

Startup funding
Startup funding
US$26.3 million (2020)
Standard of living
Standard of living
Global rank: 43
Innovation
Innovation
Global rank: 36 (2020)
Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship
Global rank: 44 (2018)
Annual GDP growth
Annual GDP growth
2.1% (2019)
(Global avg. 3.0%)
Ease of doing business
Ease of doing business
Global rank: 19 (2019)
Ease of starting a business
Ease of starting a business
Global rank: 26
Research and development
Research and development
0.6% of GDP
(Global avg. 2.3%)
Contract enforcement
Contract enforcement
Global rank: 15

Sources

Startup Funding: Startin.LV
STANDARD OF LIVING: International Monetary Fund - GDP per capita (PPP)
INNOVATION: Global Innovation Index
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Global Entrepreneurship Index
ANNUAL GDP GROWTH: World Bank
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: World Bank
EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS: World Bank
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: World Bank
CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT: World Bank

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

Society

Population
Population
1.9 million (2020)
Government
Government
Parliamentary Republic
Stability
Stability
Global rank: 33 (2020)
Internet usage
Internet usage
86.1% (2019)
Smartphone usage
Smartphone usage
N/A
Literacy
Literacy
99% (2018)
Population under 15
Population under 15
16% (2019)
Median age
Median age
43.6 (2018)

Sources

POPULATION: Worldometer
GOVERNMENT: The World Factbook
STABILITY: Global Innovation Index
INTERNET USAGE: International Telecommunications Union
SMARTPHONE USAGE: Newzoo
LITERACY: World Bank
POPULATION UNDER 15: World Bank
MEDIAN AGE: The World Factbook

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

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