Innovation in Latvia. Realities and Challenges

Keywords: innovations, statistics, national innovation system
Language: In Latvian

Nowadays, innovation is the main driver of economic growth. How effective and well considered is the national innovation system depends on the effectiveness of the process of creation and implementation of innovations in the country. In turn, successful functioning of the national innovation system, in author’s perception, is determined by research (education, science, and creativity), entrepreneurship, financial system and legislation. According to Eurostat, in terms of innovative activity, Latvia lags far behind not only from other EU member states, but also from our neighbouring countries, Lithuania and Estonia. After summarising information and statistics, the authors concluded that Latvia should form a powerful base for innovation creation. The authors found several weaknesses in the Latvian innovation system. There is an obvious lack of cooperation and dialogue between business people, academics, the education system, and government. Enterprises, scientists, and universities need to work together, and it is necessary to promote both the development of high-technology industries and the traditional economic sectors (e.g., agriculture, food industry, forestry). When developing strategic and planning documents, the government needs to be aware of the importance of statistics on innovations, and the broader range of statistical data provided by the survey on innovation, which is carried out every other year in Latvia by the Central Statistical Bureau, should be used as far as possible. Looking at the situation, one can find that, on the one hand, various research and innovation support programmes are available to entrepreneurs in Latvia, but at the same time there is no well-developed innovation system in Latvia, that is, entrepreneurs lack information on how to lead an idea to the creation of an innovative product. In addition, the elements that need to create a single innovation system, although separate, are not related to each other. Thus, knowledge (scientific activity and education) functions separately and finances (economic activity) — separately. The author believes that the existing national innovation system in Latvia is fragmented and does not help to solve the current national economic problems.