NextGen Microcities - Next Generation Micro Cities of Europe Ventspils & Valmiera, Latvia Jobs and skills in the local economyEdit 06 February 2020 by NextGen Microcities project team
Technology in sport
One of the recipients of the funding this year is Valmiera company “EchoTech”. The support has enabled the company to develop a design for the company-created athlete monitoring system, EchoSports. The company over four years has developed a solution that allows detailed analysis of athletes' indoor performance.
Kaspars Urbāns and Māris Dreija, representatives of EcoTech, tell about the implementation of the project in the program ACORN: “The system we've developed now evolves into a sports management tool, allowing the organization to see all athletes' training data (how much they train and run, pulse rate, speed, etc.) all at once, and get video analysis from workouts or games. Such system greatly facilitates the work of the coach and improves athlete performance. It is designed to be easy and convenient to use; all you need is an internet connection and a phone to start recording video in the gym.”
Kaspars Urbāns admits that the support of ACORN has allowed them to develop the visual solution of the product much faster than they would have done themselves. “We have worked with great designers on the project to create a user-friendly design for our site. We are also working on the development of a mobile application and website design,” says Kaspars Urbāns.
Currently the company solution “EchoSports” in Latvia has fully equipped two sports halls, namely, the Koceni Sports House and the sports hall in Liepaja. This collaboration allows continuous testing of the solution's effectiveness. Cooperation with other partners is in progress. “We are planning to start selling our product in the near future, mainly focusing on foreign markets. In September we won the hackathon organized by the Lithuanian Kaunas basketball club Žalgiris. We want to work with this club to make our solution more recognizable in both the Baltic and European markets,” adds Māris Dreija.
Snow machinery for peat extraction
The support of the program ACORN was also granted to “Sniega Tehnika” project “Development of innovation supplement for 2nd generation peat harvester”. Vilnis Laizāns, chairman of the board of the company, says that he learned about the support program ACORN at the Valmiera City Council event "Afternoon with the mayor" and decided to apply.
The ACORN funding has enabled the company to better implement already implemented projects. “At the customer's request, we have begun work on a peat collector using a snow tractor as a base. Initially, we planned to build a peat collector based on samples already available in the market, but in the process we realized that innovative additions were needed. The approval of the ACORN project gave us the opportunity to introduce the necessary innovations,” says Vilnis Laizāns. With the support of ACORN a conveyor belt is designed and developed, which conveniently allows to unload peat from the peat collector. “The support programme has also facilitated closer cooperation with LatMet, a metalworking company in Kocēni region, which is developing our project in an outsourced service,” emphasizes Vilnis Laizāns.
“Snow Tehnika” initially operated seasonally, selling, servicing and leasing special equipment for ski slopes, biathlon slopes, but while looking for additional options the company found that snowmobiles when additionally equipped are being also used in peat extraction sites as well as in coal terminals for reducing dust. Over ten years the company has developed and now works throughout the year, providing services in Scandinavia, the Baltic States and Russia.
Maple, a CO2 metering device, will gain new markets
This year, the support of ACORN was also awarded to "GDOG" project "Maple CO2 monitor sales promotion measures". Since 2016, the company has developed a Maple CO2 measurement device and is working to promote it to global markets.
“We did a lot of activities in the project. We participated in exhibitions “iNovouss” and “Comfort Home”. By expanding our sales to several e-shops, co2maple.com and thirteen Baltic Data stores, we increased sales. We learned how to use social networks and create marketing campaigns on them. The project also made it possible to design promotional materials and organize advertising campaigns. We are currently planning to participate in BNI Latvia, the world's leading business networking and advice organization. As a result of the project, we have identified new target groups and created new types of products and services,” says Uldis Reņģe, CEO of the company.
Optimisation of work processes
This year, one of the beneficiaries is the metalworking company Daupro, implementing the project "Development of a computerized management and sales process system for optimization of internal and sales processes". Igors Zinkevičs, Chairman of the Board of Daupro, talks about the implementation of the project in the ACORN programme.
ACORN funding has allowed us to implement a digital time tracking and estimation system to optimize and make our work process more efficient. Such solution has been under consideration for a long time, and as the ACORN was announced, we applied to implement it. We did not expect it to be so easy to implement such innovation within the company. We collaborated with Valmiera IT company “Muuv”, who developed the project according to our wishes”, says Igors Zinkevičs.
The company has grown to a team of 14 people in a few years and has been operating since its beginning in Koceni (Greater Valmiera). “At the moment, our major clients are construction companies, for whom we carry out a wide range of orders, from railings, stairs, platforms to small metal constructions, ensuring complete construction of the facilities. We are also actively working on acquiring foreign markets; last year we got involved in the Export Express programme and as a result we have started a successful partnership with a company in Sweden,” adds Igors Zinkevičs.
New solution for manufacturing companies
Funding of the programme ACORN has also been granted to the project “Digitalization solution for manufacturing companies” of company Baltijas Industriālais serviss. Company spokesman Alvis Sokolov says that the idea for the project was created in cooperation with Swedish partners, who are also clients of the company. "Thanks to the support of ACORN we were able to advance the idea of a digital solution for manufacturing company much faster, not only creating a prototype, but also testing and fully equipping the company,” emphasizes Alvis Sokolovs.
The solution enables you to digitally store, visualize and quickly retrieve various production process data, such as the status of equipment or powered machinery (on, off), the state (emergency, running), time spent producing a product, etc. The resulting statistics allow you to analyze how well the process of manufacturing has been carried out, thus better planning your company's future growth.
“We are trying to make the solution more accessible to small and medium-sized manufacturing companies. We're on the road to providing an efficient, simple, and easy-to-use tool, unlike what is currently on the market, which is mostly heavy and expensive. Several companies are already interested in buying it. We have named our solution "Acorn", integrating its name and logo into the planned offer in foreign markets as well, "said Alvis Sokolovs.
“I would like to point out that the ACORN programme is a very good project that I would recommend to any entrepreneur who already has a vision, strategy or idea of how and what to do. It is a great opportunity to test your idea and move on faster,” emphasizes Alvis Sokolovs.
Improvement of TV studio
The project "Modernization of VTV Studio" by Valmieras TV has also received the support of ACORN this year. The implementation of the project is presented by the company representatives Ingemārs Vekteris and Elīna Leimane.
“We came to the idea of the project as part of a training visit to the British BBC and German Deutsche Welle studios. World experience shows that television is now choosing new types of backgrounds known as "green boxes" or "green studios". In such studio, certain technology can mimic the visual effect needed at a given moment, and we are no longer limited to additional settings or decorations. With the equipment we can project any image, imitating any environment. The purchased green background also allows us to imitate the background online. Thinking in the long run, the purchase and implementation of such technology definitely pays off,” admits Ingemārs Vekteris.
“The existing studio, which we have already had for two years, does not allow so much variation, but with the new solution we will be able to produce a very wide range of TV programmes in the same premises. We are currently working hard on the technology of the machine to make maximum use of it in the future,” adds Elīna Leimane.
Currently, the company operates in two directions - ReTV as a national TV channel and Vidzeme TV as a regional television. There is also cooperation with Latvian Television providing regional news content, Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences multimedia studio programme and Tartu municipality in Estonia.
“If there was no funding from ACORN, we would probably not implement this project in the next two to three years because we wanted to implement other ideas in parallel. In the near future, we will switch to HD broadcasting, which means quite a bit of investment in new equipment. The acquisition of the green studio is already a step closer to what we have planned,” emphasizes Ingemārs Vekteris.