Riga is the most active region in business in Latvia – here are 112 companies per 1 000 capita (average indicator in Latvia – 86). In 2016 6 305 new companies were registered in Riga and it makes up to 69 % of all new companies in Latvia. European Start-up Initiative survey carried out among Europe-based company founders shows that the Baltics is one of the most attractive regions for business establishment and Riga stands in 22nd place among the most attractive European cities for establishing a company. Increasing the number of new companies and support for small and medium-sizes enterprises is one of the priorities of the municipality in improvement of the business environment. For business start-up and its development wide and varied national and local support is available.
GRANT PROGRAMME ATSPERIENS (TAKE-OFF)
Since 2009, the Riga City Council, in cooperation with Swedbank implements a grant programme Atsperiens aiming to promote the establishment of new, innovative enterprises and innovative development of existing enterprises in Riga administrative territory. Within the programme it is possible to receive co-financing of 80 % for covering various expenses of new merchants – for purchasing specific technical equipment and licences, accounting and legal-consultant service fees, website development, specific employees’ training, creating marketing materials, costs of rent and improvements of premises, etc. The maximum grant available for one merchant is 15 000 EUR. The open call of the grant programme is organised twice a year – in spring and in autumn.
So far seventeen project calls have been organised, in total 1 640 business ideas were submitted and support was awarded to 145 companies receiving funding more than 1,2 million EUR. Within the programme such business ideas were supported as – manufacturing of wakeboard, longboard, snowboard and winter skis, manufacturing of bicycle locks uSkunk, robotic constructor SumoBoy, board game Mission to Mars 2049, kinetic data collecting Track.it, production of granite accessories, manufacturing of exclusive soy wax candles, production of the heat accumulating stoves, etc.
More information: www.atsperiens.lv (In Latvian language).
The Welfare Department of the Riga City Council are currently implementing in Latvia the only social entrepreneurship grant programme for promotion of employment of social exclusion risk group in Riga, whose aim is to stimulate, initiate or develop and implement a sustainable development of societies and foundations or merchants to provide employment opportunities, including creating new or improving existing job places for social exclusion risk groups. In 2016 in total four projects were supported, each being given a grant of 4 000 - 7 000 EUR.
THE LATVIAN START-UP ASSOCIATION
The Latvian Start-up Association is a non-governmental organisation that unites more than 50 start-up companies of Latvia and whose aim is to represent the interests of new entrepreneurs of Latvia, to promote their mutual cooperation and to develop new entrepreneurs ecosystem of Latvia as a whole. Based on the initiative of the association, in 2016 the Parliament (Saeima) adopted the Law on Aid for Start-up Companies that determines support types to such enterprises (special tax rates, the support programmes to attract highly qualified employees). The Association organises the most important events of the start-up sector – TechChill, Riga Venture Summit, Startup Expo, Startup Slalom.
CREATIVE INDUSTRIES BUSINESS INCUBATOR
The creative industries business incubator of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia was established especially for creative industries businesses and it is planned that it will provide 50 % co-financing for different services and grants, as well as 100 % support for pre-incubation services. In the business incubator there will available co-working premises where incubator members will be able to work and to meet with customers and partners, and also to use equipment available there, as well as to attend seminars and events meant for business incubator clients. For joining the Riga creative industries business incubator, applicants may apply who work in creative industries sectors: architecture, design, cinematography, performing arts, visual arts, music, publishing, television, radio and interactive media, advertising, computer games and interactive software, cultural heritage, culture education, recreation, entertainment and other cultural activities.
OTHER SUPPORT INSTRUMENTS
For starting and developing business in Latvia and Riga, varied state support is also available – the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia provides support for export promotion, the development financial institution ALTUM implements start-up and microcredit programmes, provides credit and export credit guarantees, support start-up company training, coordinates risk capital support, etc., the Rural Support Service implements rural development activities, also the Latvian Business Angel Network, the business incubator TechHub Riga, business accelerators, and other support is available.