On Thursday, April 15, the CEE Business Services Awards 2021 were held in the Polish city of Wrocław and online, during which Riga received the award “Dynamically Growing City of the Year in the CAE Region” – the highest possible award for a city at this annual ceremony.
According to the Riga Investment and Tourism Agency (RITA), the achievements of the Latvian capital in the sector of international business service centres (IBSC) were assessed by a large panel of international experts, who chose Riga over other European cities participating in the competition for the title of City of the Year. Riga received the prize for the first time. In 2019 Riga received the Rising City of the Year Award at this industry award event.
Riga received the award due to its activities in attracting investments and improving the business environment. The initiative related to the creation of RITA, which will bring significant investment to the city’s economy in the long term, was especially appreciated.
“This award is the result of several years of dedicated work by the Riga City Council in cooperation with the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia LIAA, ABSL Latvia, the Ministry of Economy and other private sector partners. We are most satisfied with state and local governments understanding the need for attracting foreign direct investments, which has contributed both to the expansion of the LIAA Investment Department and to the creation of the Riga Investment and Tourism Agency, which in the long term will lead to more events to be proud of, as well as a significant contribution to the economy of Latvia and Riga,” says Rolands Bogdanovs, Acting Director of RITA.
The Latvian branch of DNB Bank ASA was recognised as the International Business Service Centre of the Year, earning this title due to the lowest rate of employee rotation in the sector, as well as the company's active work on process automation projects.
In addition to ecosystem development, several new IBSC representatives entered Riga last year – q.beyond, a German IT company, SwissCom, Switzerland's main telecommunications provider, Norwegian, an internationally recognized airline, and others.
Switzerland's leading telecommunications provider, SwissCom, deployed its second European DevOps Centre in Riga and aims to employ 200 highly qualified IT specialists. They are also the first tenants in the Z-towers office building, from which the whole city can be seen.
The airline Norwegian decided to centralise its activities and set up an international service centre in Riga. The Norwegian Air Resources Latvia office runs a world-wide airline, refusing a number of outsourcing operations.
The German IT company q.beyond deployed its business centre in Riga. It is focused on enabling customers to continue developing business processes flexibly and effectively. q.beyond focuses on three rapidly growing sub-services in the big IT service market – Cloud & Colocation, SAP and IoT. In addition, q.beyond has experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, analytics, permissioned blockchain, 5G and NB IoT. By combining all these service modules, q.beyond is developing innovative service packages for the retail, manufacturing and energy sectors.
The Circle K business centre in Riga is expanding significantly, thanks to the takeover of its U.S. and Canadian service function. They will service 7200 refuelling stations in North America with a team of 130 people.
In total, around 50 IBSCs work in Latvia, employing more than 15,500 specialists. Mainly IT, finance, accounting and customer support services are provided. Existing IBSCs continue to attract both local and foreign professionals, resulting in an annual average increase of around 7-10% in the sector. One of this year’s best examples of expansion is the opening of the Webhelp office in Daugavpils, which has recruited more than 200 new employees over three months.
In March this year, LIAA has also initiated a “green lane” for Priority Investment Projects. Latvian merchants from several sectors, including IBSCs, whose investment and future development plans in Latvia meet the minimum criteria, may apply. This will help to shorten the time limits for administrative processes and encourage the development of existing businesses that meet the criteria. It is an important instrument that facilitates both the development of IBSCs and other technologically developed and export-oriented industries in Latvia. LIAA's active work with Belarus since August of last year demonstrates Latvia's ability to attract technology companies, including innovative start-ups, as well as highly qualified specialists from other countries. Consequently, LIAA will continue to use different channels to promote the development of the business environment and research in the country and the capital.