Using the Concept of Innovation Week, on February 28, in Valmiera, the working group of the SUPER project met during the conference “Innovation for Development”, using the opportunity to pay special attention to the importance of eco-innovations in both Vidzeme region and Latvia as a whole. Representatives of the SUPER project presented the action plan developed in the project. 

The participants were told about the main aspects of the plan and the conclusions of the research, including the challenges that should not be ignored. Thus, policymakers - representatives of ministries, representatives of support organizations, heads of municipalities and specialists responsible for business promotion and development planning in the municipality, entrepreneurs, and others, about 150 interested persons, were encouraged to pay attention to the importance of innovations, especially eco-innovations in Latvia as a whole, as well. The audience was invited to familiarize itself with a number of issues that will be addressed in the action plan to improve the innovation support system in both the region and the country as a whole. 

According to Laima Engere, manager of the SUPER project in the Vidzeme Planning Region: “In order to successfully implement the Action Plan for Improvement of Support Instruments, as a result of which the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises would increase, including innovation capacity, and all parties involved should be aware of the importance and opportunities of eco-innovations. The Vidzeme Innovation Week was a great platform to bring the topic up to date with the plans for the near future in the context of the action plan being developed within the SUPER project. ” 

In order to raise awareness, Stef Röell, a partner in the SUPER project, was also invited to attend, and at the same time, he was representing Utrecht Economic Board in the Netherlands – an organization that is seen as a good example of how to build strong support for eco-innovation development in the region. During his presentation, a number of useful examples of how activities can be implemented to make businesses invest more directly in eco-innovation were discovered. At the same time, he also revealed a vision of how support tools should be set up for entrepreneurs to be flexible on the one hand in response to the current market situation, while not losing sustainability and long-term stability.

The expert pointed out that this is the right time for entrepreneurs not only to develop their business but also to address societal challenges where eco-innovation can be an effective solution. In addition, those who will not invest in eco-innovation will most likely drop out of the race, as the society and the market are now changing and circular economy and sustainable products and services are becoming a priority. The expert pointed out that the stereotypes that eco-innovations are an expensive process are finally being dispelled while adding that financial support instruments are now wide enough and that resources available internationally should also be addressed.

It should be noted that the visit of Stef Röell to Latvia was particularly important because some of the activities of the Vidzeme Region Action Plan have been developed after analyzing Dutch support system and taking over best practices to ensure the system works as effectively as possible. As Röell acknowledged, it is essential to identify the views and needs of the beneficiaries before the system improvements.

Meanwhile, Ilona Platonova, expert at SUPER project in Latvia concludes: “The low activity of Vidzeme entrepreneurs in using the innovation voucher and competence center support program indicates that there are significant problems in the support tools ecosystem. Some of the conclusions are that the support system is too fragmented, support functions overlap, but others are not provided at all. In addition, there is another significant nuance - in the seemingly rich era of information, it still does not reach the target audience and a number of entrepreneurs are still unaware of existing support instruments.”

In order to offer an opportunity for everyone interested to get acquainted with the concept of eco-innovation and its role in the development of the company and territory, as well as to develop a deeper understanding of the individual activities included in the action plan, we invite you to watch the experts' presentation at the conference “Innovation for Development”.

Watch the presentation “How to avoid seemingly fast, but short-lived victories in business?” by Stef Röell (representing the SUPER project and Economic Board Utrecht, Netherlands) and Ilona Platonova (SUPER project expert in the Vidzeme Planning Region, Latvia) >> HERE<<.