The implementation of an action plan co-financed by the EU contributes to the development of an environmentally friendly business and innovation support system in Latvia

With the implementation of the Interreg Europe project SUPER, from 2016 onwards, the development of environmentally and socially friendly innovations has become a particularly important topic in Vidzeme Planning Region (hereinafter - VPR), while at the national level it has received considerable attention. Conditionally dividing the project into two parts, it is time to implement all the activities named in the action plan for the development of a eco-friendly business and innovation support system, based on research and evaluation. Since April 2019, project implementation has entered the so called project monitoring phase. This means that the project team continues to implement the activities foreseen in the action plan, as well as mobilizing and monitoring the implementation of those involved.

The first semester of the monitoring phase has been quite productive as the project team has engaged and implemented a number of activities as planned. The most important results achieved:

- During the preparation of the SUPER project, it was identified that significant support for eco-innovation would be applicable to the marketing of innovative products. VPR engaged in national discussions with decision-makers to encourage them to find as soon as possible a solution to find additional funding for the specific objective and thus promote sustainable innovation. At the same time, the VPR also submitted proposals to the Ministry of Economy for the necessary improvements to SAM 3.2.1. The project team has identified increased support for the export activities targeted by this support.

- During the monitoring phase, the project team has identified that within the Innovation Voucher Program (SAM, the assessment criteria will continue to assess SME eco-innovation, which is essential for promoting the emergence of new green businesses.

- According to Action Plan B2.1. in early summer, the project team applied for a project concept in the Life program on promoting circular economy in Vidzeme. The project aims to help SMEs assess the suitability of their products and processes for the circular economy, train top executives and prepare VPR entrepreneurs for future challenges that may emerge as mandatory EU-level requirements or standards in the partner country. The project idea concept is expected to be refined and resubmitted next year.

- Under Activity B1.1, the project team also participated in a meeting of the Interreg Baltic Sea Region 2014-2020 project LARS working group of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development. The aim of the meeting was to get acquainted with good practices of partners from other countries in promoting cooperation between public authorities, businesses, universities and the non-governmental sector in RIS3. There was also a discussion of what should be good practice so that it can be implemented by the public administration. It is important to provide an increasing number of entrepreneurs with the opportunity to get to know and establish contacts with research institutions. It can also be facilitated by the public sector through its activities. From the perspective of the SUPER project, it is important that representatives of the regional ecosystem are increasingly involved in the design and implementation of projects at national level.

The activities and action plan implemented by the SUPER project allow to move towards the achievement of the goals of the long-term development strategy of Vidzeme Planning Region, as well as make a significant contribution to the planning of the next planning period.