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NOVEMBER 2018 VOLUME 2 | ISSUE 2

LATVIA Baltic Hub for Meetings and Start-Ups


EDITORIAL LEAD Johanna Fischer j.fischer@tmf-dialogue.com +49 (0)171 4594029 CO-PUBLISHING Investment and Development Agency of Latvia www.latvia.travel | www.liaa.gov.lv MEET RIGA www.meetriga.com ISSUED DATE November 2018 PHOTO CREDITS Investment and Development Agency of Latvia Sandija Veiksa, Amalija Andersone, Valdis Osins Diฤna Veinberga, Janis Bautra, J. Spigovskis Pullman Hotel Riga, Kempinski Hotel Riga, Grand Poet Hotel Restaurants Muusu, The Three Chefs COVER IMAGE Magnetic Latvia Business Information Centre at Riga International Airport GRAPHIC DESIGN Vinaya Prashanth

IMPRESSUM tmf dialogmarketing GmbH Raiffeisenstrasse 8, 97209 Veitshรถchheim Germany +49 (0)171 459 40 29 office@tmf-dialogue.com www.tmf-dialogue.net

www.tmf-dialogue.net/corporate twitter.com/Johannadialogue

linkedin.com/company/1190541

facebook.com/tmfdialoguemarketing MANAGING DIRECTORS Johanna Fischer Alfred Fischer Experiential Destinations is an online magazine format published by tmf dialogue marketing as part of our multi-channel content projects for international destinations. tmf dialogue marketing is a content marketing specialist for the global meeting and congress industry, creating relevance and context for planners of intl. meetings, congresses and events. Contact us for more information around innovative PR and content marketing.


CONTENTS LATVIA – BALTIC HUB FOR MEETINGS AND START-UPS 6

Why Latvia for Meetings, Incentives or Events? It has a few unique assets that you won’t find elsewhere…

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The Baltic Start-up Industry – Worth Looking At! PART I: LATVIA FOR MEETINGS AND INCENTIVES DESTINATION UPDATES

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New Flight Connections and airBaltic Flourishes!

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New Hotels in Riga – Grand Poet, Kempinski and Pullman

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What’s Next for Hotels in Latvia

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Latvian Cities for Business and Meetings LATVIA - A FOODIE PARADISE

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Restaurants in Riga for MICE Groups

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Foods To Try in Latvia

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F&B for a Conference or Event - Make Sure to Add Some Typical Latvian Flavors!

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Sigulda – Teambuilding Challenges and Experiential History PART II: LATVIA AND THE START-UP ECOSYSTEM

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Start-Up Characteristics

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How Come Latvia Has Such a Strong Start-up Ecosystem?

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Boosting the Economy in Latvia

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Main Start-Up Events and Platforms

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Incubators & Accelerators

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Examples for Science-based Start-Ups originating from Latvia

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Effects of a Start-Up Ecosystem on Meetings

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Services at LIAA and other sources


WE LCO M E M E S S AG E S

Magnetism. It is surprising, but it works. Latvia attracts. For physicists, magnetism is the ability to attract things. For everyone else, it is the desire to be connected to Latvia – through business, culture, relaxation, entertainment or personal relationships. And Latvia is also able to connect seemingly polar opposites. Latvia is small. But that is why everything here is close. The population here is small, but there is a lot of talent.

Here there is no southern chatter, but there is northern order. Latvians do not fall into embraces. Latvians fall into work. That is why Latvia has both the oldest oak trees and the latest technology. Here we have storks, and we have robots. Some think a Latvian is predictable. No, a Latvian is well-disciplined. A responsible, reliable, qualified partner, fluent in several languages.

Few big talkers, but many hard workers.

If it is promised – it will be done. If it is decided – it will happen.

There are no great mountains here, but there are great minds.

That is also the attraction with Latvia. Or, as they say elsewhere in the world – magnetism.

From Latvia come world-renowned musicians and equally renowned quantum physicists.

In 2017, Magnetic Latvia welcomed 1,9 million arrivals, which is the highest number to date. We’d like to thank all those who chose Latvia as a place to visit for leisure and business, and hope to see you return. No doubt, the encouraging figures and trust in the local economy are key factors for the international hotel groups launching and expanding their operations in Riga. More rooms and meetings spaces will allow Latvia to further stabilise its position as a Northern European meetings hub. Worldwide we speak of six degrees of separation while in Latvia we like to say we’re never more than two handshakes away from each other. We hope to welcome you among us soon! ANDRIS OZOLS Director

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Welcome to Riga– the #MEETings and Events Destination in Northern Europe!

Riga is a relatively new Meetings & Events destination compared to its Nordic neighbours. It is an affordable, reliable, stable destination and a great gateway to the entire Northern European region. The city is easy to navigate with its compact and well-organized city centre, close proximity to all main hotels, venues and many sites from various historical periods. Meeting and Event planners can enjoy doing business with ease in Riga. Riga offers excellent air connectivity to over 90 destinations throughout Europe. Riga International Airport is expanding to be able to handle increasing passenger numbers. It is allocated just 9km from the city centre, which makes transfer times short, and city guests don’t lose valuable time during their visit. MEET RIGA is the official Riga city convention bureau and a department of Riga Tourism Development Bureau, which provides a one-stop service as an independent information source for meetings and events planners to find the most suitable local suppliers. Riga is the perfect choice for your upcoming meetings and events! AIGARS SMILTANS MEET RIGA Director

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LATVI A – B A LT I C H U B F O R M E E TI NG S A N D STA RT-UP S

Why Latvia for Meetings, Incentives or Events?

It has a few unique assets that you won’t find elsewhere…

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S

IT DOWN for a minute and do some brainstorming – what are the most important criteria for choosing a destination for your/your clients’ next events, congresses, incentives etc? Well, of course, we don’t exactly know yours but definitely the following aspects play a significant role: venues of different sizes that offer state-of-the-art technologies and differ from conventional ones, excellent hotels with good service and meeting capacities, a city that is affordable and easy to reach as well as safe. Other interesting places in the vicinity with options for outdoor, sports, any other special features for corporate activities. Is there really a destination that fulfills all these criteria? Well, there are different destinations that come to our minds, but there is one that definitely matches every single one of these aspects: Latvia and Riga! Latvia is this bubbling destination up in the young Baltics… It has all the necessary conditions for being successful as a destination for international meetings and events. But it’s not enough to provide experiential infrastructure and professional partners - meetings follow business and the economic development in and with a destination, and here Latvia has many opportunities to offer to the global business community. It may not be a major market due to its relatively small population of almost 2 million inhabitants. However, the country’s key advantage is the location, which provides access to immediate neigbours – Estonia and Lithuania, the other two Baltic states, Scandinavia, Russia, the independent CIS states and Eastern Europe. Access to all these markets, together with skilled labour force and infrastructure are the major criteria for any investor. These parameters, together with a smart governmental strategy for business development and economic growth have led to a dynamic pool of and ecosystem for Start-ups. Indeed, Latvia is perfectly suitable for events and congresses as well as for corporate incentives and motivational trips. The country has a rich and diverse culture that reflects different eras: the German Hanse, the Swedish and Imperial Russian era, Latvia’s first period of independence before the 2nd World War, the Soviet period after the 2nd World War and the modern independent Latvia today. Each wave of settlers left its mark here and is linked to its multicultural heritage. Latvia stands out from its competitors - the dynamic startup ecosystem, scientific potential, a young and vibrant restaurant scene, cities with different character and background, welcoming people and good service – it is a mix of all this together that makes Latvia so special for any kind of business related events and conferences.

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LATVI A – B A LT I C H U B F O R M E E TI NG S A N D STA RT-UP S

The Baltic Start-up Industry – Worth Looking At!

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Y 2020, Millenials will make up 50 % of the workforce (Source: Kjaer trend compass, number 3, lightweight nomads: kjaer-global.com). Future trends as shown eg in the trend compass are already materialized in the start-up ecosystem. By understanding and observing the way start-up entrepreneurship is organized, traditional ways of making business are questioned and the door can be opened for innovation. The start-up ecosystem disrupts the traditional ways people meet, work, travel and engage- so the mind-set of this community is a good example for thinking differently – and is essential for the international meeting industry to comprehend. As a source for future success, innovation is essential to all businesses. Innovation can only be achieved by taking risks and accepting that systems change fast, very fast. The startup entrepreneurs are encouraged through “accelerator” (!) programs to think, exchange and materialize their ideas at a fast pace. There is no space for comfort zones, the community is highly transparent, sharing and returning help they have received before. Through the great hunger for new start-ups and the investors’ and government money available, speed is further enhanced. Investments are available at very early stages of company building. Investors on average have to put money into 10 new projects in order to end up with one success. Traditional and established companies also want (and need!) to innovate, but they do not like to take risks. Immediate return on investment is no guarantee in startups. Learning by doing, failures as part of the learning curve and serial entrepreneurship are all part of the game. Besides the importance and opportunities for economic development, Latvia and its start-up ecosystem are worth that extra attention by #eventprofs – as an abundance of ideas with great inspirational quality are available. Event planners, owners and CEOs of companies seeking innovation and new solutions should make an effort to dipdive into this scene and learn from case studies; maybe they’ll find solutions for problems which they couldn’t have dreamed of.

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New Flight Connections and airBaltic Flourishes!

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S THE GATEWAY to Latvia, Riga International Airport, along with its home carrier airline airBaltic is growing by leaps and bounds. They’ve significantly increased their air traffic, passenger numbers and are at the forefront of the air services in the Baltics. This has enhanced connectivity for this region with the rest of the world to a great extent. And consequently, this is a great boost in helping Riga/Latvia secure its position firmly as a MICE and business destination. Riga Airport is the leading airport in the Baltics. It caters to nearly half of all the passengers going in and out of the Baltic region and handles the highest number of cargo and aircrafts in this region. This year, it increased its number of direct destinations to 100, which according to Laura Audarina, the Route Development Manager, is certainly “a good sign”. Among the major European airports connected directly to Riga, we have Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin and Dusseldorf in Germany, Vienna airport in Austria, Zurich and Geneva airports in Switzerland with flights time under two hours from all these places. In the first eight months of 2018 as compared to the corresponding period last year, the number of passengers handled by airBaltic grew by 18 %, while cargo figures went up by around two thirds. This is a significant number and a major achievement for the airport! The airport has undergone a major revamp in light of this increased human and air traffic. Three different places offering excellent food and drinks recently opened at the airport: Asparagoose (fresh and healthy food), Easy Wine Bar, TickerDaze (Sports bar). Further, the Airport is planning improvements in the checkin and security control areas of the current passenger terminal. They plan to construct the new landside area of the passenger terminal, which will be connected to Rail Baltica railway station. Once this project is completed, the Airport will be ready to service up to 10 million passengers a year.

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Riga Airport is just 9km from Riga city centre and that makes transfer time efficient and short. Even other Latvian cities are conveniently close – Jurmala is located just over 10 km away and Sigulda approx. 60 km. The largest single flight carrier at Riga Airport is airBaltic, an airline growing steadily. They have introduced 11 new destinations this year – with eight new direct flights from Riga and with more new destinations to connect to in 2019. airBaltic maintains its position as the market leader in the region to further improve connections between the Baltic States and the rest of the world. In 2018, airBaltic became the most punctual airline globally and received the ATW Airline Industry Achievement Award as the Market Leader of the Year 2017 (to recognize excellence in the air transport industry). The Market Leader


of the Year Award usually goes to an airline that has set itself apart from its peers either in a geographic region or a market sector, or that has created or stimulated a market. According to ATW, airBaltic received the award for dramatically expanding and improving commercial air service in the Baltic. The innovative airline delivers quality customer service, with advanced aircraft such as the Airbus A220 and high performance standards. Eight new state-of-theart aircraft have been inducted (and more will be) which offer increased comfort to passengers through significant noise reduction and larger seats, windows and luggage compartments. airBaltic works closely with MEET RIGA and LIAA in promotion for the destination – they agree on joint projects,

joint activities and campaigns. And this is very important as Irina Pilipenko, Area Sales Manager of airBaltic puts it: “You can’t sell anything if your destination isn’t known.” Hence this makes for a symbiotic relationship beneficial to all the parties. Planning an event or conference in Riga/Latvia will allow delegates to come experience the ease and comfort of flying with airBaltic, the super services offered by Riga Airport, and the old world charm of this Baltic country with all comforts for a perfect event.

MORE INTERESTING READINGS: www.tmf-dialogue.net/riga-becoming-even-moreaccessible-for-german-planners.html

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New Hotels in Riga – Grand Poet, Kempinski and Pullman Three new and classy hotels which have opened in Riga recently are the Grand Poet, the Kempinski and the Pullman hotel. Grand Poet - A New Design Hotel At the beginning of 2018, the Latvian-based Semarah Hotels opened the very central Grand Poet Hotel. Guests can take advantage of rooms with unique interior design by a Swedish design company, an upmarket restaurant of the highest quality, a spa, a swimming pool and a view of one of Riga’s most beautiful parks – Bastion Hill. The hotel occupies a building which was once Latvia’s Ministry of Home Affairs and was painstakingly preserved during the renovation process. It’s perfectly positioned with easy access to all key business and diplomatic centres and the city’s landmarks. The hotel’s name comes from the idea that poets can be characterised both as businesslike and bohemian, just like the hotel.

Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga is well equipped to handle all kinds of events including business meetings, private celebrations or major conferences with a high level of personalization. It has a majestic Grand Ballroom which encompasses a 6-metre-high room, adorned with crystal chandeliers, refined marble and wooden wall elements and immense ceiling windows overlooking the opera and park alongside it. The large TV monitor wall functions as a great asset for presentations, while the extended rectangular shape of the room allows organizing dynamic events, such as fashion shows, or dividing the Grand Ballroom into three separate sections and hosting three different events simultaneously. The hotel also offers five stunning private meeting rooms, all named after famous individual musical movements – Sonata, Solo, Symphony, Andante and Allegro – which is yet another reference to the neighboring opera.

Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga is the epitome of grandeur and sophistication and stands out majestically in the heart of Riga. Situated right next to the famous Latvian National Opera House on the fringe of the Old Town, the five-star hotel features 141 first class rooms and suites, including a majestic presidential suite, two gourmet restaurants and three bars, six spacious meeting rooms, a world-class spa and wellness facility, as well as an aromatic pastry shop right next to it. It offers beautiful views of the town from all sides along with refined service and a rich cultural experience. This hotel first opened its doors in 1878 as Hotel Rome, the most modern accommodation in Riga that combined the best Western and local traditions. After being almost entirely destroyed during WWII, Hotel Rome was quickly rebuilt in the following years, and along with a new face, the building also got a new name – this time proudly representing its birthplace, Riga. Over the last decade, the hotel has once again gone through some structural and design-related changes rejuvenating into a world-class hotel that satisfies all the needs of its prominent guests which include many noted artists, musicians, writers and other celebrities.

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Grand Poet - A New Design Hotel


Pullman Riga Old Town Hotel

Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga

Pullman Riga Old Town Hotel is a perfect example of modernity combined with classic aesthetics. The hotel is located on Jēkaba Street, in one of the oldest buildings of the Riga Old Town. It’s on the edge of the historic centre of the city, but also a short walk from the canal, with its pretty waterside park and the Freedom Monument. There are 155 guest rooms, a 24-hour restaurant, a bar, five meeting rooms, a private dining room, and two conference rooms for 150 and 200 guests, as well as a fitness and recreation centre with a swimming pool on the top floor with a picturesque view over the city. It was opened in June 2016, and to date has accommodated more than 50 thousand guests. The hotel received the “Baltic Real Estate Awards 2017” prize, successfully surpassing Lithuanian and Estonian hotels. It’s a mix of contemporary style with a historic stone basement, which used to be a horse stable in the Medieval times. Entering the lobby comes with a WOW moment: old walls, an airy glass roof, plants and a comfortable bar make guests feel welcome and cozy. The whole interior of the hotel is designed along the equestrian theme, commemorating the famous 18th century fantasy master Baron Munchausen, whose stables were there. Another characteristic of the hotel’s style is the modern art and design. Grey is the order of the day across the 155 rooms and suites here, with pleasing touches such as tweed headboards and stained wood flooring. Pullman is part of the mega hotel chain Accor hotels, which is also well known for its brands like Novotel and Sofitel. However, Pullman maintains a strong sense of individuality and a distinct charm.

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What’s Next for Hotels in Latvia

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Wellton Riverside Hotel


The tourism and meetings’ destination Latvia and particularly Riga as the capital are developing fast – here’s an overview of what new hotels are lined up to open or are in the planning stage.

average – with the big chains investing in above listed projects and a generally positive outlook for growth in the destination, the hotels expect a good future for the hospitality industry.

While the situation of new hotel rooms in 2018 and 2019 will remain more or less stable, there will be more openings from 2020 onwards.

In 2017, the destination saw a growth of 8% in overnights, and, in 2018, again growth is expected in a similar range. The development of infrastructure supports the increase in visits: the opening of the second airport terminal in 2016, investments of local air carrier AirBaltic in new aircraft fleet and new connections open the country to new markets and visitors.

A few projects are about to be finalized in old town Riga this year, like the new 4-star plus Wellton Riverside Spa Hotel, which is planned to open in November 2018 with 222 comfort rooms on eight floors, a wonderful view of the river Daugava and with an event and conference facilities for up to 150 people. Wellton hotels as well as Rixwell hotels are part of the Mogotel development group – with a total of 12 properties (10 of them in Riga). Coming up in 2020 onwards: Hotel Albert (closed for reconstruction) will re-open as AC Hotel, as a member of the Marriott Chain. Hilton Garden Inn Riga Old Town Expected to be completed by the end of 2019/in 2020, this 100 room property will be located in the centre of Riga’s historic old town. The site of the hotel is almost immediately adjacent to the city’s most famous building, known as the House of Blackheads, which is a popular events venue. A new Intercontinental property is planned in the former press house on Kipsala Island near the Swedbank – approx. 200 rooms, Lithuanian Investors With both Hilton and Intercontinental, two more major international projects will be present in Riga. Also the Radisson Group has expansion intents: near the main station, opposite the Tallink Hotel, will be a newly built Radisson Red property to open in 2022 – which will be the 8th hotel of the group in Riga. The Radisson group also rebrands the former Astor hotel. A new construction opposite the national theatre in Riga Old Town will be a 4-star 100 + rooms as member of the Fresh Wind Hotel group which is not present in the market to date. Seasonality of the hotel industry in Latvia is at 55% on

When it comes to international markets, the Chinese market is expected to have a huge potential for the destination and a planned new flight to the South of China (Hainan province) proves to be a smart strategic step – as this is the connection between the area and the South of the large Chinese market. Currently, visitors from China make only up to 1% of total nights spent in Latvian hotels thus there is huge potential to be explored. Promotion and development from other new markets is within the Tourism Department’s fields of work (part of LIAA). The meetings market is a valid segment for the Latvian hospitality industry. A good co-operation between the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of Latvia, MEET RIGA (part of Riga Tourism Development Bureau) and the newly founded Latvian Convention Bureau shall support the promotion of low season times in the hotels over the winter months. The main hotel groups are members of the new Convention Bureau – with its strategic focus on congresses and a local ambassador scheme all is set for new business for the hotels. The Association of Hotels and Restaurants of Latvia covers the following strategic areas for its member properties:

• Education (participation in development of Latvian profession standards in hospitality industry, management of EU cofounded education programs) • Marketing (participation in trade fairs, representing industry) • Co-operation with state institutions and lobby work for the sake of the members SOURCE: Update by Janis Pinnis, President of Latvia Hotels and Restaurants Association

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RIGA

The Capital Easy to access and with an abundance of venues and locations, both historic and contemporary. Due to the fast development of both business as well as infrastructure, new locations are appearing all the time. A choice of different locations and venues in Riga:

L AT V I A N C I T I E S

National Library of Latvia »» www.meetriga.com/en/7474-national-library-of-latvia-1

FOR BUSINESS

»» www.lnb.lv/en/about-library/nll-building

AND MEETINGS

»» www.lnb.lv/en/services/conference-and-events-premises The Blackheads House »» www.meetriga.com/en/3599-the-blackheads-house Small Guild House »» www.meetriga.com/en/3446-small-guild The Great Guild House »» www.meetriga.com/en/5956-the-great-guild Riga Latvian Society House »» www.meetriga.com/en/3444-riga-latvian-society Ziemelblazma Culture Palace »» www.meetriga.com/en/6507-culture-palace-ziemelblazma VEF Culture Palace  »» www.vefkp.lv/lv/noma/telpu-atteli/ »» www.liveriga.com/en/2794-vef-culture-palace

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LIEPĀJA

220 km from Riga Liepāja has grown from a small fishermen village into the third largest city in Latvia. Located at the Western coast of Latvia, it is an important place for culture and creativity, with the oldest professional theatre in the country and the internationally recognized Liepāja Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, the city became home to the Great Amber Concert Hall by Austrian Architect Volker Giencke. Since 2001, each year Liepāja City Beach has received the Blue Flag – the well known eco-certificate. Karosta – a part of Liepāja – is the largest historical military territory in the Baltics and is a world of its own. Karosta is a spectacular, paradoxical and unique site in the world’s history and architecture, reflecting the interaction of tsarist Russia military elegance and robust soviet militarism. Flights via Riga connect Liepāja to major European hubs. Outstanding Venue »» The Great Amber Concert Hall lielaisdzintars.lv/en More information for MICE planners »» www.meetriga.com/en/7610-meet-liepaja

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JURMALA

Beach Resort just 25 km from Riga Jurmala is the largest seaside resort in the Baltics, located a mere 15-minute drive from Riga International Airport, making it a convenient place to organize a seminar or conference. The town is well known for its beautiful wooden architecture, fresh air, pine forests and relaxed vibe. Conferences here can be combined with leisure activities from spa evenings to swamp hiking or cycling along the seashore. More information for MICE planners »» www.meetriga.com/en/7609-meet-jurmala-1 Cesis Sigulda Jurmala

Riga

L AT V IA

Liepāja

Daugavpils

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More details and a choice of meeting venues from other cities can be found on »» www.MeetLatvia.com »» www.visitjurmala.lv/en/plan/meetings-and-events/ »» www.meetriga.com/en/7555-meet-jurmala


DAUGAVPILS

The Second Largest City, 223 km from Riga Daugavpils is the second largest city in Latvia at the Eastern border of the country. The city is an important centre of socio-economic development in the Baltic States. A little known fact is that Daugavpils is the birthplace of painter Mark Rothko, the famous American Modernist Painter, who was born in 1903 in Dvinsk, what was part of the Russian Empire and is now Daugavpils, Latvia. In his honour, the city is home to the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre with onsite meetings spaces and a few rooms. This is the only place in Eastern Europe where you can view the original works of Mark Rothko, world-known as the founder of abstract expressionism. Daugavpils is also proud to have its own university which means there is a pool of academics in the city to tap into. More information for MICE planners »» www.meetriga.com/en/7638-meet-daugavpils

CESIS

90 km from Riga Cesis is not only one of the oldest towns in the country, but also one of the most authentically Latvian towns. Rich in picturesque landscapes and testimonies of the past, Cesis embodies both an intriguing sense of antiquity and modern self-esteem. Both Cesis and the Cesis district are among the most attractive locations for incentives, seminars, and conferences. The Cesis Castle complex offers different halls in different sizes and styles for seminars, featuring modern presentation equipment. A great complements to incentive activities are bicycling, hiking, and rafting in summer, and skiing in winter, helping to relax and enjoy the magic of nature. More information for MICE planners »» www.meetriga.com/en/7607-meet-cesis

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Restaurants in Riga for MICE Groups Riga is a young and – in the best sense – dynamic city and every time it looks a bit different to the visitor. Restaurants are generally good places to see what an urban ecosystem in a city is up to! In Riga, a young and trend-conscious community is obviously predominant and their style and interpretation of global trends leave a mark on how they present themselves. This matches well with the bubbling start-up environment in the city which is very interesting for both foreign investors and to planners of innovation-driven conferences. But you have to eat as well! So here’s an update on the restaurants …

The Three Chefs’ Restaurant

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Restaurants owned or run by young and aspiring chefs seem to be in a competition on how the food is displayed and on creating new combinations of traditional local with international fusion. For the looks, a mix of Scandi Style with a touch of French Shabby Chic and some quite original characters involved in suggesting, serving and entertaining: restaurants in Riga present themselves in a truly urban, yet cozy style. Together with Aigars Smiltans from MEET RĪGA, the official convention bureau of Riga city, the tmf team tested the following two restaurants for you!


Muusu Restaurant The Three Chefs’ Restaurant

As the name implies, the place has three distinct owners who are all very active in both the kitchen as well as in direct liaison with the guests. Fully booked even on workdays, with great food and all kinds of local and international drinks, like a Latvian Cider, with a color like champagne and with light bubbles and a special mix of flavor – a bit apple (naturally….) but infused in a winey environment. We must mention the unique table decoration they do in this restaurant by splashing sauces in different colours – like an art piece – on the paper mats as a savory basis to dip the freshly baked bread into. Very original idea and fun to eat! Mārtiņš Sirmais, one of the three chefs, told us: “We’re not selling food, we’re selling the evening experience” The restaurant has several rooms and one of them is presently decorated completely with Iittala items (for those who do not know the brand: it is a Finnish company, very famous, offering dishes, cutlery, all kinds of home items in a typical style).

It is a real experience to order a dessert there … In the YouTube clip you see some plate foggily wafting like a little volcano…. Try it out. It is fun – and delicious as well! More information on the restaurant website: www.3pavari.lv/en/

Muusu Restaurant

Here is a 360° tour around the place which spreads over 3 floors in one of the old houses of Riga old town. The interior is set in a Nordic style – clean lines, raw brick walls, linen fabrics and wood in combination with metal. Chilling sofas and different environments in the rooms and the decoration in the eclectic style described above add to the experience of the meal. Good wines and friendly staff! Happy dining and a good experience for a small group!

When we went into the place, my eyes immediately fell on a sign saying “Iittala Zale” which made me jump in happy expectation and think I had accidentally come across a special sale for Ittala. It was not a sale … Zale is the Latvian word for “hall” …

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FOODS TO TRY IN LATVIA A great opportunity for both visitors as well as locals to try out mushrooming new restaurants and food styles (and – styling!) is the Riga Restaurant Week. During this event, fixed menus come at an affordable price – at the last Autumn Restaurant Week, a total of 53 restaurants participated! Due to its popularity, as well as the interest of participating restaurants, it has become an anticipated and traditional event, which takes place twice a year – during the second week of October and May. www.liveriga.com/en/77-riga-restaurant-week

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F&B FOR A CONFERENCE OR EVENTMake Sure to Add Some Typical Latvian Flavors!

The quality and taste of foods is outstanding, many of the ingredients are organic and/or handpicked from the forests and fields. Not be be missed out:

Choice of Breads

Wild Berries and Mushrooms

Pickles and Vegetables

Beer and Balsam

Most chefs in restaurants bake their own bread or have it prepared specially for them along secret recipes. No. 1 bread pick is Rye Bread, dark and delicious and enjoyed with just a little butter or home-made spread as a starter.

Add colour and vitamines to hearty dishes and are deliciously prepared and served.

Latvian forests are abundant in providing the best in wild berries and mushrooms, which are eaten seasonal or in various preparations, like frozen, dried, pickled.

Grains, Seeds and Legumes

Grits or mash are prepared from wholemeal and older types of grain and seeds – they are good and solid food to accompany meat or saucy dishes.

Local beers are recommandable and small home breweries are in fashion in urban environments. The famous balsam is a great gift to take home.

More about local and regional specialities and foods to try in Latvia: www.latvia.travel/en/article/flavours-latvia Top 10 restaurants in Riga: www.latvia.travel/en/top/top-10-restaurants-riga The Riga central market, a UNESCO world monument: www.latvia.travel/en/sight/riga-central-market

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SIGULDA – Teambuilding Challenges and Experiential History! When incentive groups or a conference travel to a new country, it’s always a nice option to get to see a bit more of the destination – other than the main location of their event. It provides a more complete feeling of having been in a country. We recommend Sigulda as such a perfect addition to a trip to Riga. It’s close by, has a whole different appearance and surrounding landscape and is highly professional in offering sport or teambuilding events. The trip must include the picturesque Gauja River in its namesake - the Gauja National Park. The forest-covered river valleys of Sigulda breathe myths and legends – a visit to the town offers fascinating glimpses into life in medieval Europe. The beautiful park and ruins of the Turaida Museum Reserve give a nice historic tweak if combined with an athletic challenge! Sigulda is also a great option for “bleisure” – individuals can extend their stay after an event in Riga for 1-2 days in Sigulda, to relax and see more of the country. So here are a few good reasons to include Sigulda in a corporate program: • It is just one-hour drive away from Riga and it is perfect for any activity program as part of corporate events • Sigulda has a unique range of professional sport venues – with professional instructors and all facilities necessary for mini Olympics. The best thing is that everything is in close vicinity, so no trouble on long transfers and complicated organization. www.siguldassports.lv

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• A race on the original bobsleigh track with high-speed bobs means to scorch down a kilometer of ice with a ride in a real bob at the only bobsleigh track in the former USSR. Sigulda Bobsleigh and Luge Track (1200 m) was opened in 1986, and is one of the few tracks in the world that is accessible to both professional athletes and visitors. The track features 16 curves, and allows for a maximum speed of 125 km/h. The track is suited for bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton competitions. Your groups will have the opportunity to chase adrenaline through the curves of the track while competitions are not taking place. • Tarzāns Sigulda Adventure Park is the largest outdoor adventure park in the Baltics. The park consists of 100 different obstacles with  varying degrees of difficulty  placed in trees up to 20 meters above the ground. The Park also offers a chair lift, catapult, climbing wall, archery, open-air pneumatic / paintball shooting ground and pedal go-karts. • Aerodium, where you can launch yourself into an amazing flying experience that has livened up Olympic ceremonies and action movies. Flight in the wind tunnel - Aerodium is the first vertical wind tunnel in Eastern Europe.

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• Zērglis and Bungee Jumping. The first and currently the only such attraction in the world, where a zipline ride takes place along a cable car. Zērglis is situated in the Gauja valley landscape and is a breathtaking experience akin to a bird’s flight above the Gauja, facing the horizon at speeds of up to 60 km/h. The creator of the attraction is the Bungee Sigulda team, which has been operating in the extreme sports sector for over 25 years, admiring the high standards of safety and professionalism. If Zērglis doesn’t cut it for you, catch the greatest rush of your life with a bungee jump off the cable car over the Gauja River. • Historic hotels as the centrally located hotel Sigulda* for lunch/dinner of your group or as your “central meeting point” during any events that might be spread over the small city – or the **Segevold hotel in a quiet green environment - provide meeting rooms, gastronomy and cater for spa and relaxation breaks. • The running candidature of the city of Sigulda together with Stockholm in Sweden for the Olympic 2026 winter games is a prove for the great conditions of the sport facilities. Sigulda and Stockholm follow a sustainable application and integrate existing tracks and venues in the new concept.

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Experiential History with Creative Workshops at the

Sigulda Castle Complex A wood workshop to create the wooden walking sticks  that have been a traditional symbol of Sigulda for over two centuries. A jewelry workshop at the Balts Jewelry Studio, well known for both the traditional design created based on ancient ornaments and modern interpretation of the traditional jewellery design typical for Baltic region.  A leather workshop in which the group can create customized leather bookmarks, belts, key rings and other small objects. A textile workshop  in which one can personalize their own textile by printing a symbol or logo on it. A paper-art workshop, titled ‘Viktor’s letters’ is where the remains of unique ancient documents stationaries are used to create – post cards, remembrances and paper jewelry. Additionally, Events and story-telling session can be organized for group about ‘Maija and Victor’s’ love, the history about the Summer Palace and the paper casting customs in Latvia and worldwide.  The Tourist Information Centre in Sigulda can help you plan your activities there or connect you with DMCs or agencies for sport activities. Ausekļa Street 6, Sigulda +371 67971335 info@sigulda.lv

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How Come Latvia Has Such a Strong Start-up Ecosystem?

START- UP CHAR ACTE RISTICS • Quick global scalability. • Repeatable business model.

• The bank crisis of 2008-2009 resulted in a lot of redundancies and, as a result, gave birth to fintech startups and supported a community driven by different mind-set. • Latvia has no big local market, therefore it was scaling global from the beginning.

• Problem solving where solution is not obvious.

• It is a new country with a new society and strong drive forward.

• High failure risk.

• Multilingual highly educated talented people.

• Special funding instruments like FFF (family, friends and fools), crowdfunding, Business Angels, VC (venture capital) , IPO (initial public offering).

• LIAA and government /ministries are strongly involved and supportive; they offer state funds for accelerators, voucher programs to enable start-ups to go to international conferences and to meet investors, support of events and activities, like the weekly “hackathons” to present ideas, special start-up visa and lower taxation etc.

• Company designed to be sold. SOURCE: LABS OF LATVIA www.labsoflatvia.com/about-us

• Good universities provide human capital and many more. • Focus on science-based start-ups (deep-tech). • Riga – very good start-up hub due to its geographic location (where East meets West meets North), also the strongest airport among the three Baltic Countries. MORE POINTS WHY LATVIA www.startuplatvia.eu/index.php/why-latvia

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Despite being a small country, Latvia has a dynamic and exceptional start-up community with many different players and platforms. An exemplary way to promote structure, advice and access to potential business partners is provided by LIAA. LIAA’s different teams are hands-on with the community and provide a range of information and help. Usually, the development of start-ups commences with a participation in a hackathon, successful teams can then go into a pre-acceleration phase with accelerators like EstLat-Accelerate, a joint initiative of Estonia and Latvia, organized with support of an Interreg project. At EstLatAccelerate a series of support is provided to the candidates to keep them motivated, eg mentorship programs and workshops on different aspects of running a start-up, like business models, market research etc. Another example of a good hackathon is recently concluded Minsk-Riga Startup Train hackathon. This hackathon gathered together 20 developers and business leaders from Belarus and 20 – from Latvia. They then spent three days together working in mixed teams on the business ideas in Minsk, then on the night train from Minsk to Riga, and concluded with the Grand Finale in Riga.

Boosting the Economy in Latvia

The video on the hackathon Pre-acceleration programmes focus on the pre-seed stage, taking people from having an initial idea to having a fully formed and committed team and raising the quality of their start-ups (and thus their chances of survival). Pre-seed and pre-acceleration programs are provided by several communities and accelerators with different focus (IT or technology etc.) – most of them you can source on the LIAA platform www.labsoflatvia.com/communities In the whole of the Baltics, and particularly in Latvia, startups are highly promoted and supported and lots of special conditions are granted to keep the ideas as well as the young and creative talent in the countries. Special start-up visa and conditions for establishing a business there and starting a company in Latvia, and easy residence permits are available, bureaucracy is low in obstacles and start-up taxes are very favorable. Latvia’s start-up ecosystem has a strong focus on “sciencebased” or “deep-tech” start-ups. These are start-ups based on research and findings in new high or deep technologies. They are about hardware, IP, space technology or pharma-related with health tech start-ups. In Riga one of the incubators for the development of “science-based” start-ups is the RTU Design Factory of the Riga Technical University, which explores how the scientific findings can be translated into future commercial success.

M A I N STA RT-UP EVEN TS A N D PL ATFORM S Please visit www.Start-uplatvia.eu/index.php/ rocking-Start-up-ecosystem to see more of how Latvia’s start-up ecosystem is structured! Digital Freedom Festival (November 2018) www.digitalfreedomfestival.com/ Tech Chill (February 2019) www.techchill.co/ Deep Tech Atelier (April 2019) Since 2018, there is also a deeptech event, organized by LIAADeep Tech Atelier. It will become an annual event, in 2019 the dates are fixed to April 11-13. More information deeptechatelier.liaa.gov.lv Video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX7acZseCXk

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Incubators & Accelerators 15 business incubators are run by LIAA all over the country, they are geographically spread and offer a pre-incubation programme (six months) and incubation programme (up to four years) www.liaa.gov.lv/lv/fondi/2014-2020/ biznesa-inkubatori/kontaktinformacija

The main accelerators in Latvia are: Three Accelerators supported by the Government: Buildit, Overkill Ventures and Commercialization Reactor www.Startuplatvia.eu One Private Accelerator – Start-up Wise Guys startupwiseguys.com RTU Design Factory www.rtu.lv/en/science/dizaina-fabrika An initiative of the technical university as part of the Riga Technical University as part of global network of “design factories” (dfgn.org), for a co-working and mentorship program to build business models from applied research findings. Bringing together students, mentors, labs and workshops to build prototypes; investors and public organizations (municipality, government) with the goal of providing a platform for innovations and industry looking for innovations. Part of EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology) Climate KIC initiative (accelerator for climate-friendly start-ups, giving grants through main partners) eit.europa.eu/ Part of Demola Alliance www.demola.net/alliance Zala Kipsala: www.rtu.lv/en/university/rtu-kipsala-campus An initiative for a University “Green Campus“

A great reading on projects of the Riga Technical University: Innovation Magazine online, published by LIAA and RTU www.rtu.lv/en/university/for-mass-media/ magazine-innovation

Commercialization Reactor

Specialised in “deep-tech” start-ups; deep-tech = scienceor technology-based start-ups with strong and protectable intellectual property); have own grants (= investors) and administrate government grants (Altum ). CR engage in pre-pre-seed relationships between scientists and investors and invest in pre-seed and seed stages. More on their website: www.commercializationreactor.com

Startin.LV – the start-up association

The Latvian Start-up Association “Startin.LV” - a nongovernment, non-profit community to unite start-ups and to lobby their interest. The idea for Startin.LV was born at a 2016 conference -  “Silicon Valley comes to the Baltics” – and established itself with 30 members by then. In 2018 the membership has already tripled and consists of corporations (like lawfirms, consultants), start-ups, co-working spaces and alike. The association’s board is elected and works on a voluntary basis so costs are kept low for the members. Startin.LV, apart from lobbying start-up interests, is actively involved in organizing start-up related events with different partners. For example, Startin.LV together with LIAA has been organizing a series of hackathons since 2017. Hackathons are 48 hour technology marathons, and the term “hacking” here is meant in the sense of being faster and better. People from both Latvia as well as from abroad apply to present their ideas – as individuals or in teams. From around 50 participants per Hackathon, 7-8 teams are formed who then work on the ideas of the presenters and pitch the results to get feedback from the judges. All this in only 48 hours! Alona Belinska, CEO of Startin.LV: “The hackathons are a great way to initially test your idea in teams and in a very compact form.” Aside from the Startin.LV, start-up association, there is also LATBAN – Association of Business Angels, and LVCA – the Association of Venture Capital Investors. There are also two blockchain associations. Please check www.Startuplatvia.eu

Oracule Tang

Co-working and support space for tech start-ups (part of Social Discovery Ventures – sdventures.com/who-weare/news/ Also, People Work, Teikums, Mitt and others – please see the link: www.Startuplatvia.eu techHub – A global community for technology Start-ups.

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Examples for Science-based Start-ups Originating from Latvia Eventech

High-precision time mechanisms for space industry.

Aerones

Flying drones to lift and rescue people from mountains, fires, water.

AirDogs

Drones for filming high-speed sports - skiing, races etc.

ALINA

improving paint and composite material durability, while substituting use of toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

Sonarworks

Providing accurate listening experience for music creators and listeners.

Giraffe Visual

3 D filming of venues, virtual reality glasses etc.

Vividly

Creating immersive presentations for 3D design Anatomy Next: anatomy learning tools for students.

Anatomy Next

Anatomy learning tools for students.

Conelum

Technological Start-up founded in late 2012. Focused on the development of rapid microbiological diagnostic tests for food and drink industry companies. Owner: Anton Adamovitch See also Commercialization Reactor

I N TROD UCI N G ATL A S DY N A M I C S www.atlasdynamics.eu

We spoke with Ivan Tolchinskiy, CEO and founder of Atlas Dynamics. The company has a strong vision about innovating and improving Drone Technology by translating the knowledge of military technology into private life and organisations. Their drones are multisystem instruments, faster, easier to handle and simple, also beautiful in design.See red-dot-award 2018 for the Pro professional drone: www.droneblog.com The company is only 2.5 years old and was founded in Riga because it’s a large hub for aerospace development in Europe that makes it an amazing place for designing and building cutting-edge aerial vehicles. With great universities and human capital, and the benefits of being an EU company, Latvia is the perfect place for this start-up. Despite being at 42 employees and new projects coming up around the world, Ivan does not yet see the development of Atlas Dynamics as a “success story”. His visions and scale of thinking are too big and encompassing to satisfy at this stage. As all elements of their products are proprietary (built by themselves) their further development is independent on third-party supplies and therefore has no limits in numbers and solutions. Ivan himself is an aerospace engineer with a previous career in the defense industry in Israel. His vision was to bring advanced aerospace technology to non-military application. The system he wanted to build should be responsible, easy to handle, with a great quality and affordable price. His vision for the company is to innovate and to disrupt the drone market by creating uncomparable products. He literally built the first prototype of one of his drones in his kitchen at home, made a video about the product and was promptly contacted by his first investor who saw the video on Youtube and agreed to provide a grant to start the company. That was only 2,5 years ago and, ever since, opportunities have found him and allowed the company to grow and explore new areas.

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Effects of a Start-up Ecosystem on Meetings 1. Foreign Delegations

Delegations come to Latvia from around the globe Germany, Israel, UAE, South Korea etc. People in these delegations have business in mind and look for partners, clients, investments – future meetings will be a natural outcome from this network.

2. Corporate Travel

There are two major platforms for the start-up ecosystem which bring international guests to the city; one is the Digital Freedom Festival, a meeting place to celebrate digital culture and debate the benefits of the digital revolution - in Riga, Latvia, November 30th - December 1st, 2018 for start-ups, corporate, policy, lifestyle. The other is Tech Chill, February 21-22, 2019 in Riga. Now there is also a 3rd platform, very focused on deep tech – Deep Tech Atelier, April 11-13 2019. deeptechatelier.liaa.gov.lv

3. “Regular“ conferences in the destination where the start-up ecosystem can get involved:

Many international banks develop their applications in the Baltics and particularly in Latvia - fin tech and block chain technology is one of the core sectors in local expertise. Corporate conferences coming to Latvia often include a day about innovation, where success stories and opportunities can be introduced. Innovation is at hand in the destination and LIAA departments are happy to connect interested parties with the right people.

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Services at LIAA and other sources

A great starting point is the new Magnetic Latvia Business Information Centre at the Riga Intl. Airport, departure sector “C”, which provides information for business development in Latvia and offers areas for meetings with local business partners. The helpful team of the business information centre can organize an entry pass for the local business partner to the secure area. It also displays fine examples of Latvian design – ceramics, textiles, wood crafts and others. Brochures about business areas: listing companies, their interest in markets, contact persons etc. are available. The Business Guide 2018 with an overview of the Latvian economy, FDIs, information on promising business sectors, human resources, taxation and all you need to know when doing business in Latvia. More information on launching a business in Latvia: www.liaa.gov.lv/en Labs of Latvia: Start-up community platform.

ALTUM: State-owned development finance institution. Financial agency giving acceleration funds via fund administrator partners, Commercialization Reactor being one of them. Within the scope of start-ups, LIAA operates under the brand Magnetic Latvia Start-up. In June 2018, this new brand has launched its own information portal targeted at foreigners: www.Startuplatvia.eu/ In this page, WELCOME PACK section lists all the benefits a Start-up can avail of if it establishes itself in Latvia: all the perks/benefits are divided into “money”and “cool stuff” – please have a look. Among them: innovation voucher for companies to innovate; financial support to go and attend global Start-up events/conferences; Start-up law which offers substantial tax incentives for qualifying Start-ups, etc To complement this webpage, there is also a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Start-uplatvia

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Latvia Digital Magazine November 2018 Issue  

Latvia–Baltic Hub for Meetings and Start-Ups

Latvia Digital Magazine November 2018 Issue  

Latvia–Baltic Hub for Meetings and Start-Ups