This economic week was largely dedicated to the development of innovations and support of fresh and current businessmen.
Latvian Silicon Valley – no joke
Latvia, having shown a truly innovative approach to the process of overcoming the crisis (which, by the way earned Latvia great praise from the Head of IMF Christine Lagarde, who recently visited our country), does not intend to stop advancing forward. Specific steps are being made to create a real Silicon Valley on Latvia’s territory, where scientists of Baltic States and Russia would be able to perform development of innovative technologies for their future commercialization. The Latvian Silicon Valley will be part of the Baltic Institute of Research and Technologies (BIRTI), the creation of which requires 600 million LVL. The precondition for such a large scale project became the fact that some interesting and perspective scientific research projects are ongoing in Latvia and Baltic States.
The most successful of them, from the point of view of commerce, are ongoing in the field of pharmacy. In particular, scientists are carrying out a number of research projects on the basis of the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, mainly for Grindex and Olainfarm companies.
Specialists of RTY are also not far behind. They are currently carrying out a joint project with Airbus: compiling calculations and testing new materials. Constructed devices are sewn in clothing, and then used to transform the energy of motion into electricity, allowing, for example: to charge a mobile phone on the go. There are also special jackets for small children that calculate the micro-climate and signal the mother if the child is uncomfortable. There is also research into mechatronics, which will allow creating robotized systems for underwater work, smart clothing and micro sensors. Artificial intelligence systems are being researched in the segment of cyber physics…
All this seems more like science fiction, but it is already being developed right under our noses, we just do not know much about it. And we could still be in the dark, if not for the announcement of the BIRTI project, which is expected to be directed on three main development routes – pharmacy (BioPharma Alliance), nano-material and high-energy radiation (NanoTechEnergy) and engineering sciences and IT (BaltSmartTech). According to experts, the realization of the BIRTI project will become a great leap forward in the development of education, science and economy. It will also create many start-ups for new, innovation enterprises.
Kick start for business
Continuing the topic of innovations, it is worth noting the TAKEOFF grant program for small and medium business, which is jointly organized by Riga City Council and Swedbank. The names of the winners of the program were voiced this week. 116 projects applied this year. Only 8 of them won, and will divide approximately 50.7 thousand LVL among each other.
Particularly, the project for the production of special furniture corner covering packages, which will serve to protect the edges of furniture during transport. The Jury also favored the idea of innovating fisherman accessories. The authors of the idea – experienced fishermen – decided to help their comrades, by creating special cases and bags, convenient for packing tackles. A firm producing glass sculptures and monuments also received funding. The firm’s production is popular not only in Baltic States and Russia, but in USA and Germany as well.
«I am pleasantly surprised to see so many creative people in Riga with fresh ideas and the will to realize them. Almost all projects participating in the contest comply with the city’s priority branches of economy, and this also shows that Latvia’s capital truly has the potential to develop production, tourism and other important industries», – claims Chairman of Riga City Council Nils Ushakovs.
Working while studying
The Finance Ministry has developed a special concept for companies being in business for a long time: according to this concept, merchants will be allowed to pay PIT free bursaries to their employees. Right now, only State funded and charity status fund bursaries are not subject to PIT. The Cabinet of Ministers Committee supported FM proposal to introduce a privilege regime in relation to education institutions and employers, which encourage their employees, who successfully study at universities and colleges.
It is planned that the new regulation will become in force on January 1, 2014. «The proposed system will contribute to the relationship between studying and practice – a common phenomenon in Latvia», – believes Chairman of the Board of Latvian Taxpayers Association Dana Muciniece.
Who said we can’t build on water?
Finally, the decision of the Riga City Council to introduce the term «construction on water» into the Riga Historic Centre Development Plan can be considered innovative in some regard.
During the last ten years, Riga City Council received numerous applications from merchants to receive permission to use water areas and embankments. So, a special protocol on the joint intent with the P.V.B Company to construct a multifunctional leisure and service center on the Daugava River, between Vansu Bridge and Stone Bridge, was signed in 2010. But this intention did not go beyond the protocol itself, because the city’s development documents lacked the meaning of the term «construction on water». Now, it is time fill in this blank spot. Authors chose the priority area of Zunda canal, around Kipsala, for the placement of floating platforms. Near it, on Daugavgrivas Street, Lithuanian investors are constructing the Acropolis – entertainment-trade center. This is why the City Council believes that the water surface of the canal would be an interesting construction site for developers. The maximum height of the buildings must not exceed two storeys (eight meters), so that they would not block the view to the opposite bank of Daugava River. Floating platforms will also be allowed to be placed in other areas, particularly along the November 11 Waterfront, between Biskapa Gate and the Stone Bridge.
After the approval of profile committees, the amendment project to the Historic Center Development Plan must be approved on the plenary meeting of the City Council. Then, public hearings will be held within six weeks. Deputies will return to the document’s review with respect to the results of the public hearings, and will finally correct it appropriately – around the end of 2012.