Science for Latvia, Latvia for Science

‘Value through knowledge’ is the motto underlying the Congress of these days in Riga, where Latvian scientists have convened to discuss the status of Science in the country in a EU and worldwide perspective. The Baltic culture leadership in R&D areas in the EU is well known. Notwithstanding their size the three Baltic in only 33 years of independence from SSSR took the leadership in EU and entered in the first group in the world as quality and acknowledgements of scientific papers produced and also for the strong impact of their research on economic structuring of their industries. In the beautiful context of the cool architectural masterpiece of Latvian National Library, the Congress has been vibrant of energy from the beginning, with a lot of participants from Universities, State administration and politicians, firms hunting innovation. It was really a pleasure to meet such type of people, attending panel discussion, following exhibitions and demonstrations, questioning directly researchers near to their totem presentation perfectly exposed and open to direct public interactions. Perfectly organised and managed not only for the professional meetings, but also in relaxing time of coffee break and lunch, thanks to the peculiar beauty of the location and the spaces availability, this Congress will certainly help to relaunch in the country and perhaps in EU the attention to the Science not as simple mind exercise of passionate researchers but as a strategic factor of economic development. The main subject of discussion and very active panels have been Digitalisation, immediately refocused on AI developments and perspectives, and the Space Economy, whose importance is growing day by day in all the world.

I had personally more of twenty years of experience in organising and pushing as a Chairman various scientific Associations and managerial also, so I know the difficulties of dialog between scientist and business people. But the climate here is totally different because in italy main mind set is absolutely bureaucratic and conservative with attitude to change quite zero. Here you feel immediately a high curiosity toward innovation at any level of culture, like I experimented in the past in Finland and Sweden. Focal point of the Congress on this subject has been the outstanding interview with the Chairman of Estonian Academy of Science, prof. Tarmo Soomere, who presented the main receipt of the enormous success of Estonia in Science research and applications to economy. Estonia was at Soviet Union time with a lot of scientist completely unproductive and isolated, at position 100 in the world of index citation in scientific reviews. In 25 years they passed to 4th position in the world after Singapore, Iceland and Panama (because of USA Smithsonian Tropical Institute). This enormous success has been obtained focusing public policies on pragmatic approach, giving money to projects but strictly controlling results, orienting to applications to economy development of the country, educating scientist to communicate properly with business environment. Breaking the glass ball surrounding research world, the Estonian start up are full of Unicorn, higher number pro capita in the world, from old Skype, to Gelato, ice cream printed just in time, in various industries, from top technology to consumer goods. Soomere remembers basic principles of Universities as dictated by Von Humboldt, to produce autonomy of individuals and world citizenship through knowledge.

Very basic principles and actions but pursued constantly for 25 years, make Estonia a point of reference by definition for Latvia but should be studied much more particularly in Italy ,where every year we lost ten in international technological competition and where the SME are old fashioned family closed environment. A very participated panel, with rectors of two main Universities, tried to suggest how to transfer this wonderful experience to Latvian policies, where the communication gap between researchers and business world remain quite high. As said the Digitalisation discussion were going rapidly to AI revolution, with EU representative talking immediately of regulations, prohibitions, limits, very good mind setting for USA triumph also in this field. Very important also the sessions on space economy, with presence of at least 7 Latvian start ups or micro-enterprises already in the field of high tech components for satellites and satellites to earth communications. The totem presentations of research projects were mainly focused on Health field and on nature conservations and bio-economy possibilities from forests. After two intense days people was very happy and certainly another step of progress for this brilliant country has been completed. Already more then 150000 micro-enterprises are developing in the country, mostly in new technologies applications to industrial and financial world, so the country wants to improve its incubator nature according to Estonian model: give a lot to Science for receiving a lot to the economy.