What can Latvia offer to startups, or what is the #StartinLV Welcome Pack?

The second Riga Venture Summit, the only startup policy analysis event in the Baltics, brought together representatives from the Northern European region in Riga to discuss further priorities. The Minister of Economics used the opportunity to present a joint offer for startups, titled the #StartinLV Welcome Pack. What’s in the pack, and what can Latvia offer to startups at the moment?

Latvia is the only Baltic country to have a dedicated Startup Support Law, the objective of which is to foster the creation of rapidly-developing tech companies in Latvia, thereby contributing to the development of research and commercialization of research products (innovative ideas, products or processes). The law offers special support programs tailored to startups,” comments Minister of Economics Arvils Aseradens.

At the moment, any startup operating in Latvia can apply for the Latvian Startup Association StartinLV support, as well as seed and startup capital funds and state support programs:
- the fixed payment aid program, which also offers personal and enterprise income tax relief
- the aid program for attracting highly qualified employees, which also offers enterprise income tax relief

According to the Ministry of Economics’ data, during the 2007-2013 planning period, seed and startup capital funds signed 89 investment agreements worth EUR 12 million in total.

In the near future, Latvia will alreadt be ready to issue innovation vouchers guaranteeing 60% state co-financing for R&D projects and product testing. Furthermore, startup projects that have received financing from business angels will also be able to apply for state co-funding, in the same amount.

One support program will be launched in 2017 – three accelerator funds where startups will be able to consult mentors and creative industry experts and seek financial support of up to EUR 250,000. The total funding available under the support program is planned at EUR 15 million. In turn, new venture capital funds will be set up in 2018 to foster the development of startups, with the public funding amount estimated at EUR 60 million. Additional opportunities, such as increasing employees’ motivation and streamlining the company liquidation process, will be considered to further improve competitiveness of the startup business environment.

Following amendments to the Immigration Law, important preconditions have been created in Latvia for hiring qualified specialists and establishing startups, the process for hiring employees has been streamlined and accelerated, and foreign students now have the opportunity to work 20 hours a week for any employer.

According to data from the Latvian startup association StartinLV, currently there are 240 startup companies in Latvia, of which 67 have attracted investment. Based on publicly-available information, the total investment amount is EUR 43.9 million, of which EUR 9.1 million has been provided by investors from Latvia and EUR 34.8 million by foreign investors.