The Ratio project significantly contributes to the development of innovation support tools in Latvia
The year 2018 was very important for the Interreg Europe RATIO project. Based on the needs of entrepreneurs in Vidzeme region and examples of good foreign practice, the RATIO project has developed the Action Plan to promote innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises in the region.
The RATIO project recommendations for improving innovation policy and business support tools have been taken into account by innovation policy makers, making significant improvements to innovation support tools, such as the Innovation Voucher Program paying particular attention to SME’s cooperation with the science sector, supporting the conduct of the first testing and commercialization of research results. In order to develop recommendations for improvement, the good practices from Irish project partners, in particular the Irish Local Business Offices and Innovation Voucher scheme, have been examined and studied. In addition the good practice of Ireland shows that upon effective cooperation and distribution of responsibilities between the national and regional business support organizations (Enterprise Europe Network, Enterprise Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices) it is possible to ensure effective management model of support programs and the availability of support to SMEs in rural areas. Jānis Siliņš, Deputy Head of the Innovation Division at the Ministry of Economics, at the stakeholder meeting of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Working Group of the Vidzeme Planning Region welcomed the progress made by the project in improving innovation support tools, in particular in the Innovation Voucher Program: ,,The ideas developed within the framework of the RATIO project were very successfully integrated into the amendments to the innovation support program. There was a very good complex solution, because we incorporated both the VPR proposals and the knowledge gained from the foreign experience exchange, as well as the recommendations of the experts attracted by the ministry. The changes to the program were right at the moment”.
The full action plan can be found here: jauna.vidzeme.lv/upload/RATIO/Action_plan_RATIO_2018.pdf.
Another important achievement can be highlighted by the examples of VPR good practice – The Latvian high quality and healthy food cluster and the Institute of Environmental Solutions that project partners have highly appreciated and recognized as viable in their countries. The Cork Chamber of Commerce from Ireland has included the Latvian high quality and healthy food cluster in its action plan as a good practice to take over especially highlighting the cluster activities in the industry management.
The successful implementation of the RATIO project was not possible without the active involvement of business support organizations and entrepreneurs. They are pleased that their ideas and suggestions have been heard by policy makers. The project identified the innovation potential of local businesses to support their growth and innovation, provided an opportunity to learn about the innovation support tools through participation in the meetings, discussions, studies.
As part of the Interreg Europe RATIO project, Vidzeme Planning Region has created an informative video to help entrepreneurs find the information they need and consultancy in the business development process. Vidzeme is proud of many innovative business success stories. The informational video includes three success stories on how to develop innovative products in rural areas and successfully collaborate with research institutions. The video illustrates and contributes to disseminating the findings of the Action Plan developed within the RATIO project, thus encouraging policy makers, entrepreneurs, business support structures for more active action and discussion, so that the recommendations contained in the plan are successfully implemented.
The priority measures included in the Action plan are expected to be implemented over a five-year period, i.e. until 2022.