From AirDog’s $2 million round to public VC funds and Latvian Business Angel network sharing information about their investments for the first time, March has been quite a month for Latvian startup scene. Let’s look back on what happened last month:
Launch of Latvian startup community platform
On March 3 Latvian startup community platform Labs of Latvia was officially launched. More than 100 startups, investors, communities and journalists attended the ignition event. The platform provides information from and about Latvian startup scene to the world. Its database includes more than 100 Latvian startups, investors and communities. It provides tens of startup job listings, events, news and resources.
First report on Latvian public VC impact since 2007
Public venture capital (PVC) plays an important role in Latvia. Since 2007 there have been several PVC programmes initiated with the argument that PVC will stimulate private investment that would otherwise not go to startups. In March Latvian Venture Capital Association (LVCA) has for the first time released official numbers to back up this argument. Bottom line: €16.4 million public money has attracted €18.2 million private money at fund level and another €56.6 million at investment level, bringing the total investment in Latvian startups to €91.2 million.
It is important to note that these numbers only cover investments where PVC participated. Deals that only involved private investors and whose amounts were not publicly disclosed are still not considered.
Infographic from original post from March 3. You can read the full article here.
LatBAN reveals their investments
Since June 2014 Latvian Business Angel Network (LatBAN) has united 42 business angels and held a pitch session every month. In March the network released its numbers for 2014: LatBAN has made 6 investments ranging from perfume vending to a private kindergarden. You can read more about 4 investments that agreed to be publicly known here.
Ghetto Startup contest gathers 150 participant teams
Ghetto Startup is a contest for high school students led by Raimonds Elbakjans, active sports and education ambassador to Latvian youth, reaching to cities and regions. Raimonds has created a Latvian youth movement Ghetto Family organizing regular sports and community improvement activities for Latvian youth in attractive Ghetto style. Ghetto startup is his next step to expand Ghetto community to business education.
‘I’ve done a lot for their bodies and spirits with sports,’ Raimonds told us when we last met. ‘Now it is time to give more exercise to their brains. 90% of high school students still have no idea what they will do after graduation. I am personally going to 100 schools all over Latvia to make sure their eyes shine as they dare to make business.’
Ghetto Startup has visited over 100 schools in February and announced that they received 150 team applications in March. Next step is regional finals and grand final in Riga. Three best teams will receive €2,000, €1,500 and €1,000 for implementing their ideas.
Latvian database Clusterpoint closes an oversubscribed € 1.25 million funding round
Backed by existing and new investors, including BaltCap and Imprimatur Capital, Latvian NoSQL database, enterprise search and cluster storage in one system offered as DBAAS (database as a service) has raised a reportedly oversubscribed funding round. This is one of the biggest openly reported funding rounds in Latvian startup scene, right after Infogram’s €1.34 million round last February and AirDog’s €1.86 million ($2 million) round this month (see below). You can read the full story on Clusterpoint round here.
AirDog closes a $2 million seed round
After exceeding their initial Kickstarter goal 5 times and raising over $1.3 million in July 2014, Latvian auto-follow drone for filming action sports went on to set up production and become the best drone of CES 2015 in January. The $2 million seed round that was closed in March is the largest openly announced startup funding round in Latvia to date. You can read AirDog press release here and see the full story on ArcticStartup here.
FlyCap invests in RCG Lighthouse that offers lighting as a service
One of Latvian PVC funds FlyCap has invested in Latvian RCG Lighthouse – a company offering lighting as a service. The key value proposition of RCG Lighthouse is saving customers’ money by using LED lighting without the need for considerable investments on client’s side. RCG Lighthouse business model lets client start saving from day 1, while RCG earns profit from service fees. The amount of investment has not been disclosed, yet RCG Lithting press release (in Latvian) states that the value of lighting systems available to clients thanks to investment is €1 million.
Infogr.am speaks at Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2015 in Milan
Founder of Latvian data visualization success story Infogr.am Uldis Leiterts shared his story at Tech.eu fireside chat during Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Milan. Global Entrepreneurship Congress is an annual event gathering Global Entrepreneurship Network hosts, entrepreneurship support organizations, researchers, policy makers, media and entrepreneurs from 157 countries. This year more than 3000 people attended the event.
TechHub Riga will coordinate Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs in Latvia
Riga’s biggest and oldest co-working space TechHub Riga has announced that it will be the official intermediary organization for Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs in Latvia. The program lets young entrepreneurs go on exchange to another country in the network and learn from experienced local entrepreneurs. Anyone who is planning to found a startup or has a company younger that 3 years qualifies as young entrepreneur. The program also allows experienced Latvian entrepreneurs host young entrepreneurs from other countries. Read more in TechHub blog post here.
Garage48 Open data & public services takes place in Riga
#Estonianmafia hackathon Garage48 joint forces with Riga municipality and threw a Open data & Public services hackathon on March 27-29. Open data provided by Riga municipality inspired 22 startup ideas pitched at the beginning of hackathon. 12 were developed into prototypes by the end of the event, and the winner was Best School – a tool letting parents find the most suitable public school for their children.
Demo day of Commercialization Reactor’s 9th batch of science-based startups
Commercialization Reactor is an accelerator calling itself ‘nursery for just born science based startups’. It matches scientists with entrepreneurs, mentors and investors within a 4-month acceleration programme. So far Commercialization Reactor has evaluated more than 400 applications and invested in more than 30 startups than have attracted early stage investments in excess of €3 million.
Toby Moore, Managing Partner of the Imprimatur Capital expressed positive feedback about the event:
‘We have been cooperating with Commercialization Reactor for five years already, and the presentations of the entrepreneurs testify to an impressive qualitative growth of the organization compared to its beginnings. The presentations and projects shown today were of higher quality. Also, I would like to add that the structure of start-up teams has become more interesting – local entrepreneurs and authors of scientific innovation from Eastern Europe have been joined by well-known industry experts from Western European countries, which, of course, enhances the prospects of the projects.’
The presented ideas included solutions for precisely recording a person’s breathing, measuring and analyzing snow cover, carbon nanotubes and more. You can read about March demo day here and check the projects here.
Riga High Tech University (RHTU) and Silicon Valley incubator GSV Labs sign collaboration agreement
RHTU operates with a goal to advance knowledge and nurture technically grounded leaders and innovators to serve national and global needs. It organizes courses, events and other educational and research activities such as RHTU thematic monthly meetups, online courses and research. RHTU founder Rihards Gailums was already involved in strengthening ties between Latvia and Silicon Valley via Latvian-American Business Association of California (LABACA). Collaboration with GSV Labs will provide additional support for collaboration in startup and tech educational initiatives.
Riga Technical University Design Factory reports a great first quarter
We keep hearing of Riga Technical University (RTU) in Latvian tech and startup scene more and more often. Biggest contributors are RTU Robotics school and RTU Design factory. RTU Design factory published a report on its first quarter of 2015, showing how they have enhanced the number of visitors, donations and partnerships with companies and scientists. You can see the full report (made using Infogr.am, naturally) here.
Rietumu Fintech challenge attracted 16 ideas from 7 countries
Rietumu Fintech Challenge hosted by TechHub Riga and one of the biggest Baltic banks for wealthy clients Rietumu has just closed its application round. Organizers let us know that they received 16 ideas from 7 countries and will soon announce 6 finalists that will compete for the main prize of € 5,000 on April 28. As previously noted by ArcticStartup, though, the main value the teams get from this competition may not necessarily be the prize money, but rather the connections and market access than Rietumu can provide. You can read more about the challenge here.
Latvian tech blogger @krizdabz examines tech trends in Latvian startups
@krizdabz is known in Latvian tech community, though mostly for content in Latvian. Recently he has published one of his first tech overviews in English, with focus on Latvian startups. The scope is quite wide – from 3D printing to data visualization, from hardware to software and from science to big data. You can read the piece here.
Latvian M&A intelligence portal mergers.lv mentions startups as the most promising M&A sector in Latvia
Mergers.lv is a specialised resource focusing on mergers, acquisitions and related topics in Latvia. Founded two years ago by Aivars Jurcans the site aims to provide independent and unbiased views and analysis about the M&A activities in Latvia. Their rather pessimistic piece about the quiet st quarter in Latvian M&A activity has been only lightened by hopeful remarks about Latvian startup scene. You can read the piece here.
Green Industry Innovation Centre invites 15 new green ideas to pre-incubation
Green Industry Innovation Centre (GIIC), also known as Green Technoology Incubator was launched last September. The initiative is led by Latvuan University (LU), Riga Technical University (RTU) and Norwegian industrial development corporation SIVA. 90% of funding comes from Norwegian government and is supervised by Innovation Norway.
GIIC has two phases – pre-incubation and incubation. Successful green ideas from the former are invited to continue to the latter. As their September batch moves forward in greeentech innovation, the incubator is taking in 15 new ideas to its pre-incubation phase. Startups can apply here (information in Latvian). ArcticStartup covered the first steps of GIIC earlier here.
Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) opens grants to green innovation projects
LIAA closely collaborates with GIIC in providing grants to companies verified by GIIC. A step forward from LIAA business incubation programme is that grants to green innovation projects also support operating costs like salaries, prototyping, production of experimental product batch and patenting costs. More information about the support initiative is available here (in Latvian).
Labs of Latvia is a startup community platform providing information from and about Latvian startup scene to the world. We gather all Latvian startups, communities and investors in one place: www.labsoflatvia.com