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Aug
24
2016

Latvia plans to double the number of startups by 2020

Latvian Startup Association, Startin.LV uniting 52 Latvian startup ecosystem players has developed a plan to double Latvian startup dealflow by 2020. The solution and its relation to existing programs was productively discussed with Ministry of Economics, LIAA and ALTUM earlier this month.

Currently Latvia and Lithuania have twice less startups and three times less Series A investments than neighbouring Estonia, even though the countries have more potential founders. Startin.LV advisory board including Jekaterina Novicka and Daniels Pavluts (Startin.LV), Jean Maurice (Eegloo and Branchtrack), Ernests Jenavs (Edurio), Andris Berzins (Techhub Riga), Dagnija Lejina (Digital Freedom Festival), Artūrs Mednis (New Black) has explored the reasons behind it and proposed first actionable steps with an ambitious employment tax policy treating startups differently from SMEs announced in August.

“Latvian Ministry of Economics has approved the Acceleration fund, seed and growth fund programs executed by ALTUM making extra 60 million euro available to the market. Half of it will be dedicated to pre-seed and seed investments from second quarter of 2017 to accelerate 120-150 startups in 3 years. However, we first need to boost the number and quality of startup teams that can successfully apply for this program,” explains Jekaterina Novicka, the chairperson of Startin.LV.

According to world’s biggest startup accelerator 500 Startups that has been developing and monitoring over 1500 startups from over 50 countries for the last 6 years, to produce 30 startup companies that attract at least 1 million investment each you need to develop a community of at least 1000 teams that try to implement their idea.

After analyzing Latvian startup ecosystem, Startin.LV has identified the greatest need for support to early stage entrepreneurs. The team has devised a strategy to boost the numbers  of new bootstrapped startups through hackathons, workshops, inspiring networking events and easy access to essential resources.

The first tangible outcome is a series of newly established regular thematic hackathons called “Startup Slalom” where people can quickly find teams, test their ideas and develop them further if they see potential. The first event will be held on 11-13 November, 2016 and will focus on financial technologies. The events are planned to take place every 2-3 months with topics covering both ICT and science-based startups.

“We are developing a comprehensive national startup strategy based on the needs of Latvian startup community. We are working with relevant government departments on a range of topics, from cohesive support programs to startup taxation issues and startup visas. The hackathons are just the first step towards our vision of Latvia as a perfectly functional launchpad for global startups by 2020,” shares Jekaterina Novicka, the chairperson of Startin.LV.

This is only the tip of  the iceberg. Working with Latvian Ministry of Economics, LIAA and ALTUM to support valuable existing and new events and workshops, Startin.LV is determined to encourage 400 teams to develop their technology ideas and to help prepare 123 viable ideas for further acceleration by 2020. Using the 500 Startups estimates, this approach is  expected to yield 37 seed and 7 Series A investments in startups by 2020, totalling more than €10,7 million.

According to Teleport’s data from world’s city municipalities, Riga beats conventional big startup hubs in terms of environmental quality, costs of living and housing, with an airport well-connected to any major hub in Europe. Because of this, it is reasonable to assume that most Latvian startups that attract funding will keep the bulk of their workforce in Latvia and thereby benefit local economy and startup ecosystem. Another important aspect is Riga’s ability to attract foreign founders and talent.

“Based on our survey of Teleport users, Riga is potentially interesting to a geographically diverse range of skilled talent, from Los Angeles and Brooklyn to Moscow, Yehuda and Almaty,” comments Kristjan Lepik, Head of Partnerships of Teleport.

Together with Teleport, Latvian Startup association has reviewed factors that would make Riga an attractive relocation destination for promising foreign startups and Startin.LV is already devising a strategy to attract foreign startups that value these attributes.

Startin.LV is an open community organization that currently unites 52 representatives of Latvian startup community around common values stipulated in Latvian Startup Manifesto. Its goal is to represent interests of Latvian startup scene, promote and connect it to the world, as well as foster mutual respect and promote understanding about startups in Latvia.