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Latvia is reboosting its cluster development

On 19 January 2017, in the framework of a forum on “Clusters – cooperation with result”, the new Latvian cluster program was launched in Riga. The event gathered the main cluster community stakeholders - policy makers and implementers, universities, research organizations and of course different clusters as the main participants of the event.

Evita Feldberga from the Entrepreneurship Competitiveness Department, Ministry of Economics, Latvia (which is one of the partners of the CLUSTERS3 project), authored an article on the launch event of the Latvian cluster program, published by the TCI Network:

"The aim of the cluster program is to encourage businesses, research, education and knowledge transfer organizations and other institutions for cooperation at local and international levels, thus contributing to the competitiveness of economic operators, by increasing export volumes and the share of high value added products and services in export, as well as innovation and new product development.

So far 13 cluster projects has been approved with the total budget of 5,4M EUR. These 13 clusters consist of 332 SME’s which are the main beneficiaries of the financial support the program provides. All 13 clusters combined export volume account for 3% of Latvia’s total export amount according the statistical data of 2015. The export volume per worker of SME’s within clusters exceed more than two times the amount per worker of SME’s outside clusters. Also companies in clusters show better results on the average wage per employee per year, which is 9% higher than the average wage in the country. Comparing just the cluster SME’s,  the evidence show that these SME’s on average pay 16% higher wage per employee than SME’s outside the clusters. In total 13 clusters provide jobs for 10 619 people.

Content of the forum consisted of official speeches, program presentation, and statistics. Also EU cluster policy was presented by the guest from DG GROWTH, Mr. Jose Freitas, but the most interesting part was the discussion with impulse presentations. Speakers during the discussion represented 2 larger universities in Latvia (Riga Technical University and University of Latvia), EEN, Latvian ICT cluster (Silver Label of the European Cluster Excellence Initiative), SME’s and large corporations. Main focus of the discussion was cluster efficiency, cooperation opportunities, advantages and disadvantages of cluster development. The main conclusions consisted of the importance of shared cooperation vision – what kind of cooperation is needed, what is the contribution potential and embracement of cooperation initiative nationally and internationally.

Taking into account that the event brought together the main cluster stakeholders in Latvia, this was great opportunity to introduce the implementation progress of CLUSTERS3 project. Audience was interested to hear what kind of support instruments and programs other project partners are using for cluster policy implementation. Comparison helps to evaluate the certain approach which can lead to more progressive solutions in future. Clusters in Latvia have high potential in RIS3 areas which makes participation in the project particularly important. Also it is complimenting the part of the cluster program for increasing the share of high value added products and services in export, as well as innovation and new product development."