From deep tech to agritech, this tiny country is developing a thriving startup ecosystem

ByJosephine J. Romero

Jun 2, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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A sunny street in Latvia with the Latvian flag hanging from a building

Image: Bojan Stojkovski/ZDNet

Although not as very well-known as its much more digitally state-of-the-art neighbor Estonia, the small Baltic country of Latvia in northeast Europe is home to a blossoming startup ecosystem.

A state with a population of less than two million, Latvia is residence to a handful of profitable tech corporations and, by way of initiatives with the country’s technical universities, several lively cooperative systems between startups and the educational sector.

Latvia also has a record of inventing and manufacturing groundbreaking improvements – from the sub-miniature Minox ‘spy camera’ used by intelligence agents in the Second Planet War and Chilly War, to the very first heavy multi-engine plane in the earth, made by renowned aviator Igor Sikorsky.

Developing up in the Latvian countryside is what impressed 31-year-outdated entrepreneur Alfiya Kayumova to get into agricultural technological innovation – or ‘agritech’, as it is recognized in the market.

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Following decades invested operating in the enterprise and expense banking environment, Kayumova – now the CEO of mapping tech startup GreenGrowth – was lured to agritech by the prospect of currently being equipped to tackle a world problem impacting hundreds of thousands of individuals around the globe.

“Agriculture is 1 of the most dynamically developing industries,” Keyumova tells ZDNet. “It is concentrated on the world wide obstacle of feeding a increasing human population with at any time-restricted scarce sources.”

GreenGrowth develops serious-time produce-mapping technology that is created to assist farmers boost their performance.

Difficulties these kinds of as land degradation, soil erosion and local climate change have also plagued Latvia and the relaxation of the Baltic region in latest decades, where agriculture and farming are amid its major economic things to do.

“We provide farmers with warmth maps, analytics about their fields, and we present how the true produce is distributed throughout these fields,” Kayumova clarifies.

greengrowth.jpg

GreenGrowth develops serious-time yield-mapping engineering for farmers.

Graphic: Bojan Stojkovski/ZDNet

“There is a ton of possible below in the Baltics and Latvia considering the fact that there a great deal of compact and medium, and massive agribusinesses that are in need to have of this engineering.”

A motivated, multilingual workforce

In accordance to ecosystem experts, Latvia’s competitive IT workforceis what makes the country’s startup ecosystem tick.

Alina Silina, from the Latvian Startup Association, puts this down to Latvian workers’ combination of good do the job ethics, significant motivation and openness toward new worries – as perfectly as the fact that the Latvian labour drive “has 1 of the best prices of university attendance in the earth.”

Multilingualism is a further unique attribute of the neighborhood labour sector in the EU member region – apart from Latvian as the official language, 87% of Latvians less than the age of 35 talk Russian, and 61% of folks of the exact same age range communicate English, though German and Scandinavian languages are also popular. 

A quantity of science commercialization programmes are presently currently being run by the Latvian govt aimed at accelerating the development of ‘deep tech’ startups – corporations set up to tackle significant engineering or scientific problems – and advertise collaboration concerning scientists.

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ENOT is one particular of the most promising deep tech startups emerging in the region, creating a technological innovation that compresses substantial neural networks so that they can be used on ‘edge’ gadgets like smartphones, IoT and other related products.

As ENOT’s CEO and cofounder Sergey Alyamkin explains, its technologies is created to help AI developers with limited methods conserve on computing charges by making neural networks more compact, quicker and extra vitality-economical.

“Our target is to reduce neural community computing electric power specifications with out sacrificing efficiency and accuracy,” states Alyamkin, who has far more than 10 years of knowledge as a knowledge scientist for world providers and Silicon Valley startups.

Acquiring tech expertise in Latvia is 1 of the most significant problems facing those fascinated in the progress of the country’s IT business.

ENOT at the moment has a team of seven developers – which is comparatively massive for a seed-stage startup, Alyamkin notes – despite the fact that due to the fact developers in Latvia are tough to come across, the organization has also experienced to invest much more in training the builders that they do have.

That explained, the tech workforce Latvia does have is much more very affordable than the rest of the area, such as startup-loaded Estonia.

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Acure is a further Latvian deep tech startup. Started in 2019, the organization is producing an automated data-checking and observability software to make it much easier for IT groups to manage large volumes of incidents, alerts and requests.

Acure’s CEO, Nikolay Ganyushkin, acquired the plan when he was doing the job as a head of IT functions at a significant on line services that experienced much more than 20 million end users and 10,000 assistance requests every day.

“We preferred to get rid of the engineers’ night change and substitute it with a robotic,” Ganyushkin tells ZDNet. “That’s how the solution was born.”

Startup-pleasant

While the labor sector in Latvia is reasonably compact, building tech selecting complicated, Ganyushkin states the country presents a helpful setting for tech startups, which advantages the two organizations and personnel. This includes legislation offering very low flat social tax and no individual tax for startup staff members.

Nevertheless attracting tech startups into Latvia remains a challenge. Whilst the nation may well lag Estonia when it arrives to the maturity of its tech ecosystem, it is acquiring there. Undertaking funds money these as New Nordic Ventures are seeking to aid promising Latvian and Baltic startups in different verticals, which include AI, agritech, deep tech and fintech.

“In common, the Baltic region itself is super-nicely perceived by global VCs, largely thanks to our neighbor Estonia,” suggests Dmitry Saikovsky, common partner and co-founder of New Nordic Ventures.

“Even though we lack at the rear of their working experience at the moment, in phrases of the ecosystem and investments, we have included all the amounts for businesses to get funding, from their early beginnings, to reaching worldwide VC money.”

All of this exertion is promising in the lengthy run for the nation and for the progress of its startup ecosystem, as very well as its IT sector, states Saikovsky.

“We’re a small population, but there is unquestionably a large amount of IT talent in the state – and large opportunity.”

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