Edgars Rinkēvičs

Ladies and gentlemen,

Startup founders, investors, and visionaries of the future,

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to be at the first Latvian Startup Awards 2023. It’s a pleasure to see so many people in this room. You are united by a passion for innovation, the courage to break new ground and a commitment to shaping the future of Latvia. The stories of the companies gathered here today show that we are very much capable of great ideas. These ideas changes industries and we should be proud of them. However, we need more of these.

It’s easy to talk about what needs to be done, but the reality is often more complicated. I’m aware of the challenges that many of your start-up’s face. Some of them are securing funding, finding skilled workforce, navigating regulations, or scaling your business. There’s no doubt that our country needs a boost in competitiveness. Your work should become a part of that. So, I encourage you to think big and inspire other entrepreneurs to join.

There is a Japanese concept – ikigai – that means your ‘reason for being’. It says to find a meaning of life you should do four things:

(1) something that you are good at,

(2) something that pays you,

(3) something that is needed for the society,

and (4) something that you love.

I often feel that startup founders go into ventures with the motivation that if they make it big, everyone benefits. We have many good examples of companies doing things that improve our daily lives. For instance, Naco Technologies, which develops nano-coatings, is contributing to a green hydrogen revolution. Aerones, whose robotics make wind turbine maintenance more efficient, and Giraffe360, which is changing real estate. And there are many other. By the way, I have visited Giraffe360, and they are doing amazing things. Having said this I have to add that I cannot promise that I will visit all the companies we have seen today, but I will try to cover some.

I’ve heard you can spot a startup founder quickly because they’re always ready to pitch their idea within three minutes of meeting you. That's why I’ll now get to the awards business. Let me again congratulate all the winners and nominated start-ups. All eight categories are of the same importance and the prizes are equal. I would give prizes to everyone nominated, because you are all changemakers and change is never easy.

Nevertheless, I had to choose one category to award.

The Impact category caught my attention by a commitment to make a meaningful contribution to tackle global challenges and to help humanity. This social aspect resonated with my work.

The winner in this category is Cellbox Labs. Congratulations to Gatis Mozoļevskis, Artūrs Ābols and Roberts Rimša for their amazing ‘gut on chip’ technology, which is making drug discovery process safer, faster, and more efficient.