Two Latvian clusters receive support from Baltic Sea Region cluster program “Innovation Express”

In a move to strengthen Latvian-Nordic regional cooperation, two clusters will be the first to represent Latvia in the Baltic Sea Region cluster support program BSR Stars Innovation Express: Latvian IT Cluster with the project “Opening CIS markets for smart technology SMEs from Latvia and Sweden” and Latvian High Added Value and Healthy Food Cluster with the project “Cross-sectoral collaboration for efficient and sustainable food value chains in the Baltic Sea Region”.

Latvian clusters will collaborate with the Fiber Optic Valley AB cluster from Sweden and  food industry cluster FoodNetwork from Denmark, thus facilitating innovation, export growth and internationalisation of SMEs.

The participation of Latvian clusters in this program is supported by the Latvian Ministry of Economics and the Nordic Council of Ministers, with a joint allocation  of 48 000 EUR.

Deputy State Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Economics, Raimonds Aleksejenko, underlines: “Our goal is not only to promote inter-sectoral business cooperation in Latvia but also to push for a more proactive approach and openness to international cooperation. To make it happen, in cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia we have created this additional opportunity for cluster internationalisation. Although cluster projects are not always impressive on the financial scale, their business synergies are powerful. Inter-business cooperation and communication is the right path to take if we want to facilitate the transfer of knowledge, boost innovation  and exports. We will follow the implementation of both projects with great interest, and will assist the involved businesses in reaching their goals.”

The “Innovation Express” cluster support program is designed to facilitate international cooperation among SMEs by implementing cluster initiatives and promoting mutual transfer of innovative technologies and expertise between the Nordic and Baltic countries.  

According to the Latvian IT Cluster manager, Aiga Irmeja, they have successfully cooperated with the Swedish Fiber Optic Valley AB before. This time  the two clusters will join their accumulated expertise in order to help the members enter the CIS markets, boosting the development of ICT technologies and sustainable approach in areas such as transport, smart cities, agriculture etc. Astana EXPO 2017, with its main theme “Future Energy”, has been selected as a suitable platform for a variety of networking events.  

Board chairman of the Latvian High Added Value and Healthy Food Cluster, Jānis Garančs, says that their cooperation project involves two leading food industry clusters in Denmark and Latvia. The main focus of the project lies on food packaging, which will contribute to a sustainable food value chain in the whole Baltic Sea Region. The cluster has had a positive experience of cooperation with Nordic partners before. In 2015 it was involved as an associate partner in a joint project developed by the FoodNetwork (Denmark) and Ideon Agro Food (Sweden), when a group of Latvian entrepreneurs took part in a product innovation workshop-seminar in Denmark.

In total the “Innovation Express” support program received applications from four Latvian clusters, covering various sectors: environmental and green technologies, food manufacturing  and information technologies.

Up to now the participating countries included Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. All in all, 62 international projects have been implemented and 2109 companies involved. The sectors of activity have been diverse: green technology, food, ICT, healthcare, business and financial services, energy, robotics, media, manufacturing technologies, biotechnologies, creative industries and medicine. Inspired by the great results from the years before, in 2016 the program was joined by the regions of Brandenburg (Germany) and Catalonia (Spain).