Latvian Startup Association elects a new board for 2 years

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The Latvian Startup Association “Startin.LV” has elected a new board that will guide the organization and help the CEO for the next two years.

The Latvian Startup Association is an organization with 82 active members. The aim of the organization is to develop the Latvian startup ecosystem and promote the startup movement, as well as facilitate mutual understanding and respect within the startup environment.

One of the most significant achievements of the Latvian Startup Association was the introduction of the Startup Law that came into force in Latvia in 2017. Subsequently, the association proposed numerous amendments that made it more effective.

The Latvian Startup Association helped to develop regulations on stock options that give startups more opportunities to compete for the best talent in the market. The association also maintains the Latvian startup database.

Five well-known and active people from the Latvian startup ecosystem have been appointed to the board. Several foreigners were among the election candidates.  

Overall, out of 16 candidates who took part in the election, four were foreigners from the US, Canada, Ecuador, and Russia, currently residing in Latvia. Each has their own story of why they chose Latvia as a place to live. Some of them are investors, some of them have founded startups and thus received a startup visa.

Having diverse stories of their relocation to Latvia, all foreign candidates have successfully integrated into the local startup community and, at this stage, are ready to contribute to the further development of the startup ecosystem.

Latvian Startup Association elects a new board for 2 years

Overall 51 Startin.LV members took part in the election and voted five candidates into the new board:

  • Agnese Veckalne, Head of Operations at “Edurio” which is one of the largest ed-tech startups in the country and works with over 1500 schools across the UK and Latvia. This is going to be her second term on the board and first term as a Board Chair.
  • Andris K. Bērziņš, Partner at “TechHub Riga”, a Board Member at “TechChill” and a Partner of the investment fund “Change Ventures”. He has previously served several terms as one of the association’s board members and has helped with some important startup ecosystem initiatives.
  • Liene Briede, Director of the Science and Innovation Department at Riga Technical University. Liene is the first representative from Latvia to be confirmed as an EIC Board Member at the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency. This board is considered to be the most significant innovation initiative across the whole of Europe and aims to promote research, innovations, and startups to be able to achieve a European technological breakthrough.  
  • Arta Abāšina, Head of Operations at “Nordigen”. Nordigen is a free open banking API proving access to banking data and insights. Arta also used to be the head of the acceleration program “Overkill Ventures”.
  • Reinis Tenis, co-founder of the “Jeff App”. The startup has raised more than 1 million dollars up to date and is successfully expanding in Asia.

The startup ecosystem is starting to gain momentum with more startups than ever before raising millions in investment, new supporting legislation being introduced, and a growing number of startup-related activities taking place everywhere.

While momentum is starting to build up (for which we have so many people to thank), there’s much more we could and should do to support Latvian startups. But to make it truly effective, the ecosystem needs a harmonized effort at all levels ranging from NGOs to government, such as having a main coordinating body within the ecosystem.

Our main focus will be to directly bring value to startups and to push for more alignment among all ecosystem players. I’m excited to see where the next two years will take us.

The new Chair of the Board at Agnese Veckalne

The association is structured in a way that the Board oversees the organization’s general development vector and helps the CEO with strategic decisions.

Olga Barreto Goncalves became CEO seven months ago and is currently leading an operational team of two, soon to be three. She is well-known within the local startup ecosystem as the first Head of the Startup Support Division at the Latvian Investment and Development Agency. 

I think that the newly elected Board is powerful and ready to take on new challenges. I’m especially happy that each board member has personal experience in the startup industry. Three startup companies, an investor, and a representative of the academic field will now actively take part in the everyday life of the organization that is going to focus on two main directions.

The first one is strengthening the support to Startin.LV members in order to facilitate their growth and ability to scale. The second one is developing the startup ecosystem, maintaining the startup database, helping establish a Startup House (physical space for startup teams and community members), as well as building relationships with universities.

Olga Barreto Goncalves