I look forward to promoting stronger U.S.-Latvia ties and working with AmCham members to ensure Latvia is a trusted destination for international business.
John Tully, Chairman of the Board of MikroTik
The biomedicine companies developing their businesses in Latvia - seeing 455% growth, deep historical roots, and endless scientific commercialization. Among them is Roche Latvia, a global pharmaceutical company represented in more than 90 countries. But it's the only one in Northern Europe (in its widest possible definition, including Belgium, Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Poland) with an incubator.
Director and Purpose Lead of Roche Latvia, Rauls Velins, says that this was a choice to make use of the talented scientists in Latvia, to give them the freedom to innovate and improve the lives of people. “In creating successful products to help save lives, the key is collaboration. Not only among regulators and ourselves, but also among academia, scientists, lawyers, and more. Our incubator is geared towards fostering this collaboration. Because there is no lack of strong scientists and individuals in Latvia, but they require a collaborative environment to structure and nurture their innovation, to eventually bring it to the market” - Rauls Velins, Purpose Lead of Roche Latvia.
Mr. Velins emphasizes that Latvia has a strong chemistry history, with the Baltics leading pharmaceutical manufacturers based in Latvia. He mentions that for Roche specifically, this history stretches back far. While Roche was founded in 1895, Riga was mentioned in the company's history just one year later - Riga was an early manufacturing location for the healthcare company. After the re-establishment of Roche Latvia in 1996, the company has now regained their original building, and has invested more than €5M to renovate it as a state-of-the-art facility.
Health care solution company Roche Latvia established its Innovation Incubator in July 2020. The aim of the incubator is to facilitate and support the preparation of new and innovative ideas, as well as research in specific areas of health care and the creation of new and relevant products and/or services. The incubator is a permanent platform for new ideas, and support from Roche Latvia will be provided for those who wish to develop ideas about innovative solutions. If the idea is already in process and the need is to continue its development and research, the support recipient can seek practical and consultative support from Roche Latvia. This can involve office space, equipment, specialist consultations, etc.
The director of the Technology Department of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency, Lauma Muižniece, argues that such support instruments for researchers and business people are of great importance. "It is not just financing that is essential in the development of new products and technologies," she says. "There must be also a reciprocal link with potential clients and partners to make sure that the idea is sustainable and can be developed further. Advice from experienced professionals from the sector at an early stage of product development can help avoid various risks, as well as to identify the most promising directions for the use of the product or technology. We really appreciate such initiatives from the private sector, with experienced companies sharing their experience and supporting new entrants into the market -- both new companies and researchers, thus creating an open environment for the development of innovative solutions that can be raised to an entirely new level."
Roche is the world's largest biotech company, designing and manufacturing special medications to treat diseases related to oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology, and the central nervous system. Roche is also a world leader in the area of in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics. It is also on the front lines when providing treatment for diabetics. More than 30 medications from Roche are on the list of essentially important medications of the World Health Organisation. Among them are live-saving antibiotics, anti-malaria drugs, and medications to treat cancer. The Roche Group is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland. It operates in more than 100 countries, and in 2019 it had some 98,000 employees all around the world. During 2019, Roche invested 11.7 billion Swiss francs (CHF) in research and development, and the company's revenues amounted to CHF 61.5 billion. The Roche Group also owns the Genetech company, which is in the United States, and it is a majority shareholder in the Chugai Pharmaceutical company in Japan. According to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Roche has been one of the most sustainable companies in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 11 years.
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Matiss Kukainis, Partner at Spigulis & Kukainis