Smart materials and photonics

Smart materials, technologies and engineering are crucial for the transformation of Latvia's economy. They help to create new and innovative technological solutions and develop high value-added products and services. This sector is a basis for other fields and provides necessary components and systems (including precision medicine, ICT, smart cities and green energy, bioeconomy). 

To make the best use of smart materials, cooperation between industry, science and the national authority is essential. Luckily, Latvia has been a scientific hub from a historical perspective, with long-rooted collaboration between academic, scientific and industrial minds and well-established science clusters. Latvia has proven to be the leader in scientific excellence in the Baltic States, boosted by a well-targeted distribution of funding to scientific institutions. 

 

Main subsectors

Functional materials for photonics and electronics, thin layers and coatings, equipment, devices and systems, energy harvesting and storage

Fast facts

  • Here you can find world-leading high-impact research and more than 100 years of experience in delivering state-of-the-art solutions for the industry, as well as excellent supply chains for electronics, optics and lens manufacturing.
  • In Latvia, there is an enormous potential for the science and industry of smart materials because we have international expertise and plenty of innovation collaborations within H2020 projects.
  • We offer technology scouts who work with companies and research organizations and help them navigate through the jungle of academia. Technology scouts will consult about the state-of-the-art technology available at research organizations and where and how to secure funding.

Industry statistics

  • We have the ambition to become Silicon Valley of the north, and already plenty of impressive and market-leading products are coming from Latvia, such as the world's fastest optical switch and top-notch optical fibre products. 
  • Today, smart materials are one of Latvia’s research priorities, and the cooperation between the industry and scientists is very active. Latvia has the necessary infrastructure (technology, policy, researchers, know-how, etc.) for high-impact investment and result delivery in developing deep tech innovations, such as platform MATERIZE - a one-stop solution to link business and science. 
  • A cherry on top of these opportunities and benefits – Latvia is the leader of employment in fast-growing companies in the Baltic States.

Employment and education 

  • Nowadays, smart materials are replacing insufficient traditional resources. Altogether 2470 companies are operating in the sector, with total employment of 29,3 thousand people (2017).
  • One of the main driving forces to invest in this industry is the skilled and motivated workforce and scientists available in Latvia. We are 7th in the world in the number of students entering STEM bachelor programmes in Europe (2019).
  • Latvia's universities have numerous study programmes within different levels representing engineering and natural sciences. The total number of engineering and natural sciences programme graduates at Latvia's largest universities is 3019, namely, 41% of all enrolled students in 2018. 

Industry leaders

  • RD Alfa Microelectronics develops and manufactures high reliability and radiation-hardened microelectronics components for aеrоspace and defence equipment. Partners – European Space Agency.
  • HansaMatrix is electronic system manufacturing, partners – Facebook, Apple, VW, Boeing.
  • LightSpace Technologies are global leaders in real-time multi-plane volumetric 3D image display technologies.
  • EuroLCDs offers the world’s fastest optical shutter technology, smectic liquid crystal switchable smart glass.
  • Groglass is one of the world’s leading developers and manufacturers of anti-reflective coatings, with such partners as Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Louvre Museum Paris, Forbidden City Beijing, State Hermitage Museum Saint Petersburg, and others. Interestingly, Groglass has developed an anti-reflective glass to protect the Mona Lisa painting.
  • Fiber Optical Solution (FOS) – specializes in developing optical-fiber gyroscope. FOS has supplied high-precision gyroscope to world companies such as NASA, Applanix Corporation and Lockheed Martin.
  • LightGuide Optics is the world’s leading provider of fiber optic products, optical fiber probes for laser medicine, optical fibers for UV, VIS, or IR range. Light Guide Optics produces more than half of the world's instruments used in urology.
  • CeramOptec creates customised solutions in fiber optic technology, medical Original Equipment Manufacturer
  • Sidrabe has more than 50 years of excellence in developing unique thin-film technologies, partners – NASA.
  • Baltic Scientific Instruments (BSI) specializes in the development and fabrication of devices for spectrometric analysis based on semiconductor and scintillation radiation detectors. Their products are applied in multiple industries: nuclear power; environmental monitoring; geophysics and the mining industry; medicine and healthcare; research including space sciences; security systems and customs control; and other spheres.

  Downloads

Photonics and Smart materials industry 
 

Photonics and Smart materials fact sheet

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