The aim of the Innovation support programme in Valmiera, Beverīna, Burtnieki and Kocēni municipalities as the Latvian centre of industry and dynamic entrepreneurship is:
- Promoting the realisation of new products and innovations, strengthening existing enterprises and promoting the development of new (particularly innovation-based and technologically orientated) enterprises;
- Promoting cooperation between private and public sectors in building Valmiera, Beverīna, Burtnieki and Kocēni municipalities to become a test-bed for innovations and new products.
The programme is being realised to motivate and encourage local entrepreneurs to introduce all kinds of innovations in their companies. Organisers believe that such programme will both - inform and educate entrepreneurs about types and tactics of innovation as well as raise the number of innovative enterprises in Vidzeme region and Latvia.
When developing an idea about a programme for entrepreneurs, programme implementers from Valmiera Development Agency realised that innovation as a field and a subject in the region is a poorly developed and local companies have rather narrow understanding about it. "Therefore, it became clear that this can be a way how to strengthen existing companies and to be in line with the goals of local municipality as well to develop innovation in smart specialisation areas," says Ilze Eglāja, Head of the Board of Valmiera Development Agency.
The main stakeholders and beneficiaries of the programme are local and regional entrepreneurs, communities and society overall.
“Afternoon with a Mayor” organised by Valmiera Development Agency, brings together entrepreneurs with local executives to promote the discussion and involvement of entrepreneurs and to inform about the planned activities in the municipalities, 02.03.2018.
Ilze Eglāja from Valmiera Development Agency with mayors of Valmiera, Kocēni, Burtnieki and Beverīna County Council in an event “Afternoon with a Mayor”, 27.11.2017.
The programme provides support up to EUR 10 000 for local entrepreneurs. The funding will finance development, testing or implementation of any innovation within the company. Basic support rate is 60% for companies which plan their actions in Valmiera and employ 1-3 locals. Additional 10% support rate is allocated to companies which plan their activities in Valmiera and employ 4 or more locals. And another additional 10% support rate is allocated to companies which develop, test or implement innovation or new product which is potentially useful for public sector and/or society. The planned budget for the pilot year is EUR 22 000 (3-4 projects), for the following years – EUR 100 000 (10-15 projects annually).
The programme is one of the few regional innovation programmes in Latvia. The idea was evaluated as highly valuable and sustainable and therefore rewarded by Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia with additional funding. There are numerous support programmes in Latvia on national, regional and local levels. However, most of such support programmes focus on business idea authors and start-ups. Although Valmiera, Beverīna, Burtnieki and Kocēni Innovation support programme for entrepreneurs does not exclude any entrepreneurs, the primary focus will be on existing businesses and spin-offs.
Another factor that differs the programme from other regional and local support programmes - at the moment it is the only support programme in Latvia that focuses on all kinds of innovation, incl. RIS3 sectors, while being implemented locally and regionally only (as a result of cooperation of several municipalities).
Within the programme the whole territory of all four municipalities will become an innovation test-bed which is unique for Latvia. And the programme emphasizes the importance of cooperation of public and private sectors where both parties benefit greatly.
First results of the programme will be available by the end of 2018.