Information and communications technology

They say data is the new gold. We say you need something and someone to work with these data. IT support, software development, cloud solutions and many other things, including AI and robotics. Many countries rely on the strong growth of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector development as part of their development strategy. Latvia is one of them. 

Clearly, ICT development tendencies are path to new opportunities. And it is great that this progressive sector – information and communications technology (ICT) – is one of the fastest-growing industries in Latvia. This does not take us by surprise as with the 16th fastest internet speed in the world (Cable, 2019) and being 3rd country for mobile usage (12.8 GB) in the OECD countries (OECD Broadband Portal, 2019) as well as being one of the first countries to implement a 5G network Latvia beats many other countries. 

Let’s use a time machine for a bit. Historically Latvia has had a reputation for being a research and development hub in the ICT industry, which has led to the fact that nowadays we are largest ICT exporters in Baltic’s (sorry Estonia and Lithuania). Over the past few years, computer programming and information services have increased their share, because the IT industry is merging with other business disciplines and acting as a catalyst for growth and innovations. Latvia’s telecommunication companies in cooperation with IT sector are actively working on 5G and other Smart city solutions.

Main subsectors

IT support, Telecom, Software development, Cloud solutions, AI, Automation & Robotics

Fast facts

  • We are proud to have the largest air transportation hub in the Baltic’s – Riga International Airport – offering 100 direct destinations.
  • It takes maturity to be a leader. Latvia ranks fourth as the country in EU with the highest maturity in e-government, according to the European Commission's (EC) annual eGovernment Benchmark.
  • 3G...4G...no! Now is the time for 5G! Latvia is amongst the first countries globally to implement 5G network.
  • What does it even mean? Imagine uninterrupted 5G coverage for all urban areas and all major terrestrial transport paths. 5G use cases include mobility, drones, public safety, big data and AI.
  • To test a certain idea and concept pilot projects are essential. Because of its fit-for-purpose legislation, Latvia is a friendly country for carrying out pilot projects in the field of AI. Several projects – including the construction of an international test track for self-driving vehicles – are already being implemented.
  • A team work makes a dream work. As a small nation Latvians have always understood the importance of joining forces and building communities. Various associations, communities established, and events organized to support and promote industry and foster cooperation between companies and higher education institutions.

Industry leaders

  • SAF tehnika is one of world’s leading producers of microwave point-to-point radios and field-optimized portable spectrum analyzers and 99% of company’s production is being exported to more than 130 countries worldwide.
  • tet is one of the most experienced companies in Europe providing integrated and innovative IT, telecommunications and outsourced business process solutions supported. Besides that, Tet develops such projects as Claara, which is the first TV advertising and large-scale audience analytics online tool in the Baltic’s, manages a launch platform Overkill for start-ups and more.
  • LMT is a mobile telecommunications operator and market leader in Latvia, currently amongst the most efficient mobile data network providers and 5G implementers in world. LMT has been recognized internationally as Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough, European 5G Pioneer and nominated in Global Mobile Awards 2019 among such companies as Deutsche Telecom, Verizon and Ericsson.
  • MikroTik provides hardware and software for Internet connectivity in most of the countries around the world, for example, Mitsubishi Motors, Siemens, Hewlett-Packard, Ericsson, Motorola and is even present in Mount Everest and used for travels to Mars. World Intellectual Property Organization has awarded MikroTik with WIPO IP Enterprise Trophy for innovative use of the IP system by the enterprise and successful corporate strategies for promoting respect for IP.
  • Zabbix is one of the most demanded IT monitoring products globally which is used in Brazilian bank security systems, Japanese machine making and world-known telecommunication grand’s, largest retailers, airports and ministries. Company has managed to reach clients without much of investment in marketing, Zabbix name speaks for itself.
  • Tilde provides localization services, develops custom machine translation systems, and offers online terminology tools for a wide range of languages - Tilde’s virtual assistants are used in Facebook and Skype. For three consecutive years, Tilde has won the “Olympics” of the machine translation technology – the WMT 2019 competition.
  • Lightspace technologies are global leaders in multi-focal accommodating 3D AR headsets and glasses free future 3D image displays. The key use areas for 3D image technologies are medical data 3D visualization such as real-time 3D microscopy, image guided surgery, diagnostics, airspace and mission control with 3D visualization, car wind-screen 3D heads up displays (HUD) and gaming and augmented reality 3D headsets.

Industry statistics

  • There is a certain, healthy competition between the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. With more than 1b ICT export value, Latvia is the leader amongst Baltic States in ICT export.
  • The presence of modern, accessible, high quality ICT infrastructure is a precondition for the dynamic development of the ICT industry. Latvia’s infrastructure is amongst the best in the world. No wonder that the number of ICT companies in Latvia has doubled since 2011.
  • As ICT is one of the fastest growing industries in Latvia; sometimes the local workforce is not enough. 1121 working permits issued for foreign IT professionals in 2019.
  • The ICT sector contributes to technological progress, output and productivity growth. In Latvia ICT industry demonstrates 30% profit growth YoY.
  • ICT is one of the sectors than can be proud of high added value products and services contributing to increased profitability. In our country we observe 9% added value growth YoY. 
  • Start-up is a kind of entrepreneurial experiment. And it is great when this experiment is successful. Latvia has a booming start-up ecosystem and a high-number of ingenious up-and-comers and experienced start-ups. In what areas do start-ups operate? In Latvia about 70% of start-ups established are in or related to fintech.
  • Students of today are technologically savvy, digital-natives no wonder that 11% of all first-year students choose to study ICT, 63% of those are in computer sciences.
  • ICT specialists are in demand throughout the world. Latvia can help in filling out those vacancies as it is #1 in Europe in terms of ICT students per 1 M population.
  • Opposite to the stereotype that ICT is a male-dominant industry, also women are becoming more interested in this sector. 20% of students enrolled in ICT studies are women, women comprise 27% of all graduates, and this number is going up.

Employment and education

  • Digitalization and ICT is changing our everyday lives and creating new opportunities for both businesses and employees. There are 37k employed in ICT sector in Latvia.
  • Most of ICT sector workers are tri-lingual (at least), speaking Latvian, English and Russian. 
  • Some are almost polyglots adding German and French to the mix.  No wonder that Latvia is #2 in EU in terms of language skills – 96% speak at least one foreign language.
  • ICT sector companies care for their employees and are large tax payers. 7% of all labour taxes can be contributed to ICT sector.
  • As we have a premium, high-speed internet available in our country our people love it and use it in leaps and bounds. 84% of Latvian population use internet daily.
  • Hope you are not indecisive as if you want to pursue higher education in Latvia as you can choose between 52 higher education institutions with 80k student pool.
  • Brilliant and progressive ICT students take up 8900 out of this 80k student pool. 
  • We always look for best practices and implement them whenever we can. The Baltic IT Leaders Excellence Bachelor's Program in Computer Science and Organizational Technology was developed by the University of Latvia (LU) and Riga Technical University (RTU) in cooperation with the Buffalo University (USA).
  • The majority of specialists employed in ICT have higher education. Many of them have studied in Riga Technical University, University of Latvia, Institute of Electronics and Computer Science.
  • ICT study programmes are wide, comprehensive and forward-thinking, allowing to major in robotics, big data analysis, AI, cybersecurity, telecommunications and electronics.

Read why they have chosen Latvia

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