April 14 as part of the DigiBEST project, Latvian representatives shared good practices in developing digital transformation among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As successful examples of Latvia helping entrepreneurs to digitize their operations and which could be applied by foreign partners, were highlighted “My Latvija.lv. Do digitally!" program, consultations of Zemgale Region Human Resource and Competence Development Centre, Digital Innovation Hub, as well as project “Smart Latvia & Digital Maturity Test”.

DigiBEST is the “Digital transformation of the Business Environment” project under the INTERREG EUROPE interregional cooperation program, where the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia (VARAM) is the leading partner. At the event Latvian representatives shared good practices with other participants – industry experts, policy makers, NGO and SME representatives from Italy, Norway, Spain, Austria and Portugal.

The event was launched by Deputy State Secretary for Digital Transformation, Āris Dzērvāns, who stressed: "It is of paramount importance that political reforms should also be brought to life at the level of business, providing the widest possible support. The unforeseen circumstances of the moment have not only demonstrated the acute need for digital transformation, but also the ability of citizens to adapt to changes. Changing habits in the digital direction will also contribute to improving quality of life, so I am pleased that support is provided to the SME sector towards change."

“Digital transformation not only in Latvia but across Europe is considered to be a driver of progress, which is capable of affecting all sectors of the economy. Latvia has already implemented a number of successful support measures. Skill trainings and innovation vouchers are available to businesses, but soon we will launch the Norwegian Financial Mechanism program in IT industry. Meanwhile in the next planning period, we intend to create a full support cycle from skill development support to grants for new digital products and services, the piloting and testing of which will be available at the European Digital Innovation Center established in Latvia.”, emphasizes Deputy State Secretary on Economic issues of the Ministry of Economics Raimonds Aleksejenko.

One of the four examples identified under the DigiBEST project is the “My Latvija.lv. Do digitally!” program, where since April 2018 the ministry implemented several activities to inform and educate the public in order to improve its digital skills for receiving public services. Ministry organized communication activities and the training of digital agents. The mana.latvija.lv website was also set up and 50 descriptions of life situations were developed, thereby helping to focus on the vast supply of e-services. Zemgale Region Human Resource and Competences Development Centre shared its good practice, in which SMEs and home producers are provided with free individual consultancy for creating a digital visual identity for entrepreneurs in order to increase market competitiveness. The Latvian IT Cluster presented their activities of the Digital Innovation Hub, which serves as a digital guide for small and medium-sized enterprises, providing both a business process analysis, training and general support for project implementation. Meanwhile, the Latvian Information and Communication Technology Association provided an insight into the “Smart Latvia & Digital Maturity Test” project, which aims to provide a comprehensible support to entrepreneurs by raising awareness of the need to transform business processes.

Good practices in their business were also shared by representatives of several companies, who appreciated the added value of the above-mentioned initiatives in the development of businesses and the need for digital transformation, because one of the reasons why companies do not use digital tools in their business is ignorance, a variety of myths and a reluctance to change their thinking.

The overall objective of the DigiBEST project is to support and promote SMEs competitiveness through digital transformation of SMEs in rural European territories by proposing solutions to enhance their capacity to use advanced technologies and new innovative business approaches for promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe and its regions. The project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Norwegian national funding through the INTERREG EUROPE program. The project is in the partnership with seven partners from Latvia (lead partner), Norway, Italy, Spain, Austria and Portugal. The event taken on April 14 was the third study visit under the DigiBEST project, previously Portugal and Spain sharing their good practices to promote digital transformation. More on the project: www.interregeurope.eu/digibest/