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An overview of R&D-intensive sectors in Latvia

Reposted article by Enterprise Europe Network. Click here to view the original.

In 2014, 27% of the total EU funding for Information and communication technologies (ITC) innovations were granted to Latvian SMEs. A large pot of money has been awarded to highly competitive businesses in a country with less than 2 million of inhabitants. What is the secret? And what does it mean for UK businesses? Latvia benefits from an old tradition in research in different scientific fields, high qualified and multilingual staff together with modern infrastructures, high speed data transmission lines and the 8th fastest internet connection in the world. The Latvian R&D intensive sector enjoys the positive spill-over effect from:

  • quite a high number of innovation centres and research institutes: over 32 research institutes for a country of 2 million of inhabitants,
  • combined with R&D governmental incentives programs and a flat corporate tax rate at 15%.

However, the above-mentioned features would not be enough without an excellent culinary tradition, delicious beer and outstanding wild nature. Elements that notoriously support creative thinking and innovative ideas.

There are 3 sectors of particular interest for UK businesses:

Electrical Engineering and Electronics

The E&E industry has a very long manufacturing tradition. The pool of expertise and existing infrastructure allows Latvia to be highly competitive internationally. For example, Siemens established two regional centres of excellence for microwave data transmission and indoor networking solutions. Latvian companies can carry out a complete electronic manufacturing service including product design support, industrialization, manufacturing processes from Printed Circuit Board (PCB) assembling to complete box build. The Latvian E&E industry is active in the field of advanced acoustic systems, wireless data transmission equipment, industrial optics, nuclear electronics, electronics control, and monitoring devices.

Chemistry, Pharmacy and Biotechnology Industry

The chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnological sector has always been among Latvia’s leading manufacturing sector. It includes a good number of successful bio-cosmetic and phytopharmaceutical companies benefiting from the country’s natural richness and biodiversity. The chemical sector manufactures high quality plastic, rubber and synthetic fibres employed in different fields from aerospace and military to metallurgy and electronics. The UK laboratory equipment company Grant Instruments has invested in the Latvian company Biosan, active in the field of genomics, proteomics and cellomics.

The pharma and biotech sectors do enjoy the presence of internationally recognized research institutes like the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, specialized in medicinal chemistry, drug discovery and organic synthesis. Recently the Institute invented and synthesized an active substance used for anti-cancer drugs.

The sector is also strong in medicines, phytopharmaceuticals, paints and varnishes, chemical compounds and synthetic fibres, household chemicals, cosmetics, perfumes, plastic and rubber products.

Information and communication technologies – ICT

The ICT sector is definitely the fastest growing in Latvia. 92% of the population enjoys a total fixed broadband coverage (European average 89%). At the same time Latvia offers one of the lowest monthly broadband cost and the 8th fastest internet connection in the world. The country is in the top 10 for per capita investment and revenue in the IT industry. These conditions allowed the ICT industry to flourish, especially in the field of ICT service activities and Telecommunication. Business process support functions are an example, IT global companies like Accenture, Exigen and Tieto located their R&D centre in Latvia.

Moreover, a competitive-driven and lively start-up environment plays a crucial role in the industry, providing smart and innovative apps and IT solutions.

These 3 sectors all offer R&D partnering opportunities for UK companies looking for testing, manufacturing and outsourcing partners. Would you like to get a privileged insight into the opportunities of the Latvian market for your business?

Enterprise Europe Network East of England is organizing an event in London and a trade mission to Latvia.

For further information contact Daniele Esposito on tel 01707 398038, or email

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