At the seminar several regional funding instruments were reviewed and their availability for the silver economy analyzed. The aim of the seminars was to provide recommendations on the options for adjusting financial instruments to promote the development of silver economy projects. The strengths and weaknesses of funding instruments were analyzed and opportunities to better apply them to the needs of silver economy were searched for. Possibilities to create a new or find an application for an existing instrument for financing projects in the field of silver economy were also considered.
The senior economy (often referred as silver economy) applies to the products and services of any industry created for the senior citizens (usually defined as so called “Best Agers” or people aged 55+, but may include other groups of society as well). In these seminars, we focus thematically on the RIS3 (Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation) priorities set by the Latvian state – information technology and medicine/welfare solutions.
Representatives of several stakeholders (so-called triple helix universities-business-municipalities / state representatives) were invited to participate in the seminars - municipal and state structures, researchers from universities and research institutes, entrepreneurs, non-governmental organizations and seniors.
Presentations were given by representatives of Riga and Kuldiga municipalities, Ventspils University of Applied Sciences, Green Tech Cluster, Latgale region, Social Entrepreneurship Association and a nascent entrepreneur operating in medical clothes market.
In total 25 participants of different triple helix actors joined the event.
The event has gathered representatives from almost all regions of Latvia including cities of Riga, Daugavpils, Liepaja, Ventspils, Kuldiga, Jelgava. It was highly valued that participants from so many diverse regions could present their financing programs and share experiences with the peers in other regions.
Only one of the presenters emphasized that the area of silver economy is one of the prioritized in the allocation of funding. Usually the focus of supporting start-up entrepreneurs is set on the quality of the business plan and is not limited to RIS3 priorities. However, the Riga City Council has noted that silver economy and social care system is at least the fourth priority of the city. Smaller regions and cities have already well established senior community networks, i.e. in Kuldiga and Daugavpils. Kuldiga city shared a brilliant example where every city infrastructure and long term planning projects details are directly communicated with the senior citizens representatives in advance and their advice is taken into proper account.
Another conclusion was that the collaboration of triple/quadruple helix actors is key to success of innovation ecosystem especially when it comes to a smaller communities, such as Ventspils city with around 40 thousand inhabitants.
An entrepreneur case study showed that the mix of support programs and funding instruments is used at the early stage of business development.