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Latvia

Financial technology startups are invited to apply for the Rietumu Fintech Challenge 2017!

On April 26, Riga will host the biggest competition in the Baltics for startups developing financial technologies (FinTech). Rietumu Banka established the competition two years ago, and it is currently the largest event in the region. Thanks to the initiative of Rietumu Banka,many startups are now motivated to develop and improve the FinTech environment. The main prize on offer in the Rietumu Fintech Challenge 2017 is EUR 5,000. Register* until April 7 here.

Last year, 25 startups applied to take part in Rietumu Fintech Challenge 2016. The winner of the main prize was Nordigen, a startup from Latvia – a tool helping lenders to automatize the data analysis of borrowers’ bank printouts.

According to Roberts Bernāns, Development Director of Nordigen, “The Rietumu Fintech Challenge is a valuable event, because FinTech culture in Latvia is very active. It is good that big companies are providing support for such initiatives. Especially so, when the support comes from Rietumu Banka which also helps startups to function using the platform it provides. In preparing for the competition last year, we had a defined technology, but we lacked a clear understanding of its applicability. However, the presence of many mentors from the banks and other large financial enterprises gave us the chance to understand whether our service was useful and appropriate for them. Moreover, the large number of foreign experts involved helped us to understand whether our service was viable beyond the borders of Latvia. Our success in this competition is our quality mark and a reference we often use in order to increase the credibility of our brand.”

This year, the involvement of more participants from all the Baltic States, Scandinavia and Russia is expected. As previously, the jury will assess the submitted applications. After all applications, have been reviewed, the strongest startups will be selected for the final. The finalists will have the opportunity to spend a full day working with FinTech industry experts and mentors. These experts will share their advice and experience to encourage the teams to formulate their future vision of their product and business in general as precisely as possible, as well as to prepare the startups for the presentation to investors at the end of the day.

The Rietumu Fintech Challenge 2017 is organised by the Latvian Startup association StartinLV in collaboration with Rietumu Banka.  Both parties signed the collaboration agreement at the beginning of 2017. Previously, Rietumu Banka has actively supported different initiatives of startups, for instance, participating in FinTech Club – the series of closed events specially organised for startups working in financial technologies.

Jevgēnijs Djugajevs, Board Member of Rietumu Banka explains that, “Launching a successful FinTech project is complicated. The need to deal with real money and reveal private financial information means that user requirements in regard to new solutions are often high. While it is possible to create something unique, the company should not only be thinking about launching a product; it also has to ensure the product’s reliability and security. It is important to comply with regulations and to avoid bankruptcy. Sometimes companies launch an unfinished project expecting to deal with emerging problems on the go. In our field, this is almost impossible. Therefore, the Rietumu FinTech Challenge has a professional jury that can guide entrepreneurs in the right direction, help them find solutions to problems, and last but not least, to identify the leader amongst the crowd.”

Jekaterina Novicka Chairperson of the Board of Latvian Startup Association says, “We are truly glad that through the Rietumu Fintech Challenge, we can showcase Latvia as a platform able to attract financial technology industry teams from all over the region. It is also a unique opportunity for Latvian FinTech startups to learn, establish contacts and further cooperate with internationally recognized experts. The Rietumu Fintech Challenge is a fantastic chance to understand and exploit the advantages offered by banks.”

Rietumu Fintech Challenge 2017 welcomes applications from startups that already have working product or its prototype.  The product must be appropriate for use in the FinTech field. From all the applications, the jury will select the strongest startups, which will then be invited to take part in the all-day mentoring session and compete for the main prize. Register* until April 7 here: https://www.f6s.com/rietumufintechchallenge2017/apply

*In order to register for the Rietumu FinTech Challenge 2017, it is necessary to create a startup profile using the free platform http://f6s.com. Afterwards, you can fill in the questionnaire and to register for the competition. If you have any questions regarding registration, please do not hesitate to contact the project manager Aļona Beļinska by e-mail: alona@startin.lv

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Six winning startups to represent Latvia in final of StartUp Europe Awards

Under the frame of TechChill conference in Riga, SEUA16 Latvia has announced the six winners of their national StartUp Europe Awards 2016. The national Final Ceremony in Latvia, organised by the country manager “Latvian Association of Public Relations Professionals (LASAP)” has been last out of 13 events awarding best startups of 2016 in Europe which will now compete in the European Final in Brussels next spring.

National jury evaluated the performance of the previous year on the basis of the applications received, as well as in a wider context, on the basis of their expert-level knowledge of the Latvian startup industry as a whole.

Mrs IneseVaidere, MEP from Latvia and ambassador for StartUp Europe Awards, delivered the diplomas to the winning startups. The role of the ambassador in this competition is to support local startups and entrepreneurs. “Latvia is not a country with inexhaustible natural resources, but we are smart and educated people who are able to create products with high added value. Latvia clearly has the potential to become a centre in Europe, offering a stimulating and supportive environment in which businesses grow and thrive”  – saidMrs IneseVaidere.

The winners of the SEUA16 from Latvia are:

In the Creative Category Mozello the world’s easiest to use website builder.

Nordigen which offers transaction categorisation for improved credit scoring,is the winner in Fintech Category.

In the GREEN Category the winner is Conelum a biotechnological startup focused on development of rapid microbiological diagnostic tests for food and drink industry companies.

Anatomy Text is augmented reality, web based software for medical education and healthcare professionals, and the winner for HEALTH Category.

The winner in ICT Category is Notakey, a smartphone based solution for strong & smooth authentication and authorisation.

Finally, Rention a Property Management Platform that helps you overview and control all your estate from A to Z, is the winner in the Smart Cities Category.

“Latvian Association of Public Relations Professionals (LASAP)” decided award a special prize for achievements in public relations to 4SmartStreets.

SEUA also applauds efforts of media in supporting development of startup ecosystem in Latvia by awarding three media outlets – Labs of Latvia, LSM.lv and technology blog Kursors.lv who during the past year drawn particular attention to Latvian entrepreneurial activities by promoting creative tech ideas to broad Latvian audience.

Winners Latvia

SEUA has so far brought together more than 1,000 startup applications and 13 national awards ceremonies on the continent, with more than 80 startups awarded.Startup Europe Awards has been called The Eurovision of Startups, identifying the role models for startup ecosystems across the Europe.

StartUp Europe Awards, an initiative promoted by the European Commission, has the support of the President of the Committee of the Regions, several members of the European Parliament as ambassadors and is implemented by Finnova in collaboration with StartUp Europe.

  • Thanks to com Media Partner of SEUA for covering the Latvian final.
  • Thanks to TechChill for pictures. Pictures by Dan Taylor and Sandija Veipa.
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Latvia Passes Innovative Startup Law

On the 23rd of November, the Latvian parliament approved a new law to create a tax regime, one not matched anywhere else in Europe, that will effectively double venture capital investors’ money in young Latvian startups. This law is seen as part of a wider push to make Latvia an attractive base for startups. The law was passed with almost unanimous support in parliament and will enter into force from 1 January 2017.

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“When investors decide to risk money backing a startup in Latvia, almost half of their money goes to pay social and personal income taxes, even if the founders and early employees are paying meagre salaries because their shares and options are the financial upside they hope for,” said Andris K. Berzins, board member and co-founder at the Latvian Startup Association, one of the key organizations behind the proposal. “This is because in most startups there are few other costs aside from salaries. So together with the Ministry of Economics, we decided to tackle this cost directly and the result is this new tax regime.”

The law foresees two tax plans: a special flat tax regime, currently 252 euros/mo per employee, regardless of salary paid, for minimal social benefits. Or for more highly qualified employees with a doctors or masters degree or 5+ years of experience, a regime where all their social and personal taxes are covered by the state, and they receive full social benefits. “As it stands, if the total tax burden on those employees is almost equivalent to their net salary cost, then this tax regime will have the effect of almost doubling the runway that a startup has, for the same amount of investment money, meaning that they are more likely to survive to the next round of funding (or revenues) and be successful in the long term,” said Andris.

To qualify, a startup would need to meet some basic criteria such as being less than 5 years old, have earned less than 200k in revenues during the first two years since registration, not be paying dividends, and have produced an innovative product or service. But the startups are also required to have secured 30,000 Euros or more in early-stage venture capital funding. “The venture capital funding serves as gatekeeper mechanism to focus the benefit on those startups that really have potential, as evidenced by their ability to attract outside funding,” emphasizes Andris K. Berzins. “A mechanism to also include business angels as qualifying funding is already planned for the next revision of this law.”

The Minister of Economics Arvils Aseradens has said Latvia needs to be the first choice base for startups in the Baltics, and the law is “a first step” in a wider push towards supporting innovative technology companies. The government has made no secret of its plan to compete for the status of the main regional startup hub; more initiatives to support startups in Latvia are in the pipeline for the near future, such as a startup visa to ease the process of hiring talented employees from outside the region. A law to legalize ridesharing is currently also in motion, and enjoys the support of all coalition parties, expected to be passed next year.

Latvia already has a lot going on to support the claim of a growing startup ecosystem, and a great place for startup development. There is no shortage of educated and talented people from the region and CIS countries, the living costs are low, the internet infrastructure is well above the European average and almost 95% of the population speak a foreign language. The community is also growing fast; Baltic conference TechChill is expected to grow from 500 to 1000 participants in one year alone, another example of growing interest in Riga. During the event, Baltic founders and policy makers will also meet at the second Riga Venture Summit next year- the first one resulted in founding Latvian Startup association and the Startup Law.

 

Retrieved from: TechHub Riga

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