Tendencies to improve the competitiveness of rural enterprises in Latvia

This is the 2nd part of the conclusions of the 3rd INNOGROW stakeholder meeting in Jelgava on the 25th of September 2017, held by Zemgale Planning Region to discuss tendencies to improve the competitiveness of rural enterprises, inviting the rural stakeholders from public and private sector.

During the meeting with experts from different sectors, the INNOGROW project’s stakeholder group discussed options for improving the competitiveness of rural enterprises, increasing exports and promoting new business models.

Undoubtedly, the lack of financing is an important obstacle to the development of companies, therefore Aiga Kalbjonoka, Executive Director of the Latvian Business Angels Network, had introduced venture capital investments possibility. This private investor society employs 76 investors, who regularly organize investment sessions and endeavor to support projects of various fields and funding. 

When discussing opportunities for cooperation and development of rural entrepreneurship among those present, it is concluded that one of the most significant constraints in the development of companies is the lack of understanding between entrepreneurs and scientists or inventors. "There are countless examples in Latvia in which the inventor goes" ahead ", and only after him goes an entrepreneur. Innovators believe that they know best how to run a business and direct the product, so often they, fear of stealing the idea, avoid cooperation with people who have a business in "genes", says Juris Birznieks, member of the board of the Latvian Business Angels Network. 

Regular tripartite meetings are also required between businessmen, financiers and other stakeholders. As the fruit picker Māris Šnickovskis has pointed out, entrepreneurs will know best what they need, so real needs should be identified in their funding programs. A similar vision was expressed by Dzidra Kreismaine, Head of Science and Project Development Center of the Latvian University of Agriculture: "Scientists also need to understand what to look for, what problems are there. Summarizing such information, it would be possible to determine more precisely the directions in which to work. "

At the conclusion of the discussion, the participants summarized that there are opportunities for supporting a rural entrepreneur, but they are often difficult to access or unknowing. Examples from both foreign countries and Latvia are useful, but it would require a stronger state position for the development of the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises, which would allow the introduction of new practices and knowledge, as well as promote the development of innovative products in enterprises in rural areas.

The development of new policies and their promotion at regional and national level, thus promoting the modernization of enterprises and the development of innovations, is the main objective of the European Union co-funded projects and the "INNOGROW" project. At the same time, it is planned to promote positive attitude of local, regional and national policy makers in the implementation of technologies and innovations. Similarly, through the Zemgale Planning Region, dialogue between the target groups will be promoting, stimulating the search for joint solutions and implementation of entrepreneurship in the countryside.

The 85% INNOGROW project is co-funded by the European Union's Interreg Europe program. The total budget of the project is 1 574 322 EUR, the ZPR's budget is 129 960 EUR (including the ERDF: 110 466 EUR). 

Aigars Ievins

Zemgale Planning Region

Public Relations Specialist