Policy Background

Objectives of the national research and innovation agenda in Latvia are defined in a number of laws, regulations and policy documents.

The purpose of the Law on Scientific Activity is to strengthen the state's concern for science as a very important factor for the development of society. In accordance with this law, the Cabinet of Ministers determines the state science and technology development policy as well as innovation policy, approves priority science directions and state research programs, as well as determines the procedure for the control of the use of financial resources allocated for their implementation.

The National Development Plan of Latvia for 2014-2020, developed by the Cross Sectoral Coordination Centre, is the highest national-level medium-term planning document with the goal of agreeing upon the most importnat medium-term priorities, areas of action, objectives and indicators of their implementation. This is closely related to the Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia until 2030 (Latvia2030) and the National Reform Programme of Latvia for the Implementation of Europe 2020 Strategy (NRP). The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have also developed the

Strategy for Latvia

The National Science, Technology Development and Innovation Guidelines for 2014-2020 is a medium-term policy planning document that defines goals and priorities of the country's science, technology development and innovation policy up to 2020. In the framework of the national development planning system the Guidelines is part of the Smart Specialization Strategy and contributes to the achievement of the goals set out in the country's long-term and medium-term policy planning documents. 

The Cabinet of Ministers also approved the Priority directions of science for 2018-2021. Those are:

  1. Technologies, materials and engineering systems to increase the added value of products and processes and cyber security;
  2. Strengthening energy security, development of the energy sector, energy efficiency, sustainable transport;
  3. Climate change, nature protection, environment;
  4. Research and sustainable use of indigenous natural resources for the development of a knowledge-based bio-economy;
  5. Latvia's statehood, language and values, culture and art;
  6. Public health;
  7. Knowledge culture and innovation for economic sustainability;
  8. Demographics, sport, open, inclusive societies, prosperity and social security;
  9. Public and public security and defense.

Transport policy objective is a competitive, sustainable, co-modal transport system that provides high-quality mobility through efficient use of resources, including EU funds. The transport sector has a number of relevant policy documents stemming from/ aligned with these guidelines. These include:

Institutional framework of transport research

Within Latvia, the Ministry of Education and Science plays a major part in research and innovation activities. They:

  1. Develop a national science and technology development policy;
  2. Prepare a request for the annual allocation of state budget funds for scientific activities in accordance with the state science and technology development policy;
  3. Sort delegations and co-operation agreements that may be concluded for the implementation of international cooperation projects and programs, ensuring the recognition of Latvian science and raising public awareness about the importance of science in the sustainable development of the country;
  4. Coordinate the international cooperation programs in the fields of research and technology and, in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Cabinet, provide support for participation in these programs;
  5. Maintain and update the National Science Information System.

The Ministry of Economics is the leading government authority in the field of economic policy, whose tasks and competences include development and implementation of innovation development policy. Information on innovation such as: innovation theory; innovation policy in Latvia and the European Union; innovative products in Latvia; innovation support programs; innovation support organizations; etc. is available on the Latvian Innovation Portal

 The Latvian Council of Science also plays a part in the institutional framework:

  1. The council is a collegiate scholarly under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Science, which prepares proposals for the development of national science and technology development policy, as well as elaborates proposals for the preparation of the draft state budget necessary for the financing of science,
  2. National research programs are public procurement for research in a specific economic, educational, cultural or other country priority area with a view to fostering the development of this industry,
  3. The objectives and tasks of the national research programs are determined by the relevant sectoral ministries jointly with the Latvian Science Council and the Latvian Academy of Sciences. National research programs are implemented in the priority scientific directions approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Riga Technical University (RTU) has focused on becoming a third-generation university that not only provides high quality education, but also conducts advanced research and ensures innovation and technology transfer, practically implementing scientific discoveries. RTU has become a modern internationally recognized university, which conducts internationally competitive research and cooperates with reputable international research institutions, such as the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERNEuropean Space AgencyKTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, and the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany (plus more).

Research at RTU is organized on six research platforms. The objective of research platforms is to ensure multi-faculty and interdisciplinary research in the areas of great significance for the national economy and society. Active and continuous analysis of market needs and commercial potential takes place within the research platforms.

One such platform is Transport, including research in:

  • Energy efficient and safe road and rail transport;
  • Safe and financially efficient air transport;
  • Efficient transport infrastructure;
  • Reliable and safe methods for diagnostics of technical condition of vehicles and transport infrastructure.

Transport and Telecommunication Institute (TSI) is the only privately owned technical institute in Latvia, which is certified as academic and research organization. TSI provides academic programs in subjects such as: transport and logistics; computer sciences; electronics and telecommunication; economics and management; and aviation transport including a doctoral program in Telematics and Logistics. The main research direction is “Information Communication Technology (ICT) in Transport and Logistics”, which includes 3 main pillars:

  • ICT (Telematics), including IoT; cyber security; robotics; big data, modelling, etc;

  • Smart Solutions in Transport and Logistics;

  • Digital Society and Economy.

TSI is the lead and participant of Transport and Logistics related projects in programmes such as Horizon2020, Interreg, Erasmus and others national and international programs. TSI is also valued member of the European Conference of Transport Research Institutes (ECTRI). They perform advanced research in the field of transport and logistics by cooperation with leading research organizations in this research domain including with: Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (Germany), University of Thessaly (Greece), and University of Deusto (Spain), etc.

Thematic areas/topics

One of the priority directions of science in Latvia includes sustainable transport, which in turn includes applied research in:

  • Information technology;
  • Mechanical engineering;
  • Application of intelligent technologies and engineering systems in logistics and transport;
  • Application of composite materials in mechanical engineering;
  • Provision of stable, high-quality and optimal operation of transport energy supply systems and their elements;
  • Renewable energy resources, their transformation and storage technologies for use in transport;
  • Synthesis and use of nanomaterials for the production of intelligent materials and specific products;
  • Modification of the properties of existing materials;
  • Research in water transport, logistics and infrastructure.

Key users of knowledge include:

  • State stock company Latvijas dzelzceļš (Latvian Railway);
  • Transport and logistics companies (intelligent materials in rail transport, intelligent technologies in transport flow management);
  • State stock company Latvijas Valsts ceļi (Latvian State Roads) (road construction - intelligent technologies and materials, and road monitoring - intelligent engineering systems);
  • Transport companies (intelligent materials for longevity of vehicles - smart coatings, smart lubricants; Increasing efficiency - logistics planning, forecasting; intelligent control and inventory systems).

Funding Sources and Support Initiatives

For research funding, universities and institutes typcially use EU funds within the various international research programs (Interreg, ERASMUS +, HORIZON 2020, EU 7th Framework etc.)

Current funding sources and programmes in relation to Latvian research include:

  • URBACT III (2014-2020) - facilitates the sharing of knowledge and good practice between cities and other levels of government in order to promote integrated sustainable development and improve the effectiveness of regional and cohesion policy.