Latvian Startup Association Startin.LV reveals that an agreement is underway with Latvian Ministry of Economics for a comprehensive national startup strategy. Among other things, it aspires to double the number of Latvian startups within the next 3.5 years.
According to association’s chairperson Jekaterina Novicka, the key aim of this initiative is to complement the existing later-stage support instruments with well-structured, accessible and relevant early-stage startup support:
“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.
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”. The first event will be held on 11-13 November and will focus on financial technologies. The events are planned to take place every 2-3 months and cover both ICT and science-based startups.
Currently, Latvia and Lithuania have twice less startups and three times less Series A investments than neighbouring Estonia, even though the countries have a larger population. Startin.LV advisory board has explored the reasons behind it and proposed first steps with an ambitious employment tax policy treating startups differently from SMEs announced earlier this month.
“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.
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 rule of thumb devised by 500 Startups, this approach is expected to yield 37 seed and 7 Series A investments in startups by 2020, totaling more than €10.7 million.
The plan also includes enticing foreign startups to relocate and run their companies from Latvia. Together with Estonian relocation startup Teleport, Latvian Startup association has reviewed factors that would make Riga an attractive destination for promising foreign startups.
Go Riga, Young Man
“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.
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. Startin.LV plans to use these selling points to attract more foreign founders and talent to Latvia.
The development is definitely a step forward in creating a national startup policy. As one of Latvia’s most active female founders, Anna Andersone, said in a recent interview: “Latvia is a bunch of people living in a forest near the sea. Our resources are our brains.”
We also encourage more collaboration between the three Baltic states on their policies, as many investors we meet at Arctic15 treat the Baltics as one region.